Archive for March, 2014

A Model X showing off it's doors.

A Model X showing off it’s doors.

 

Up and coming car behemoth Tesla will be releasing its new model X a little later this year, and we here at Hilton Auto are incredibly excited. With only a single model the company has been able to revolutionize the entire auto industry. Clever design choices have made for one of the best vehicle designs in modern history.

 

For those unfamiliar with Tesla, they are a unique ‘modern’ car company. I put modern in quotes because it is difficult to describe what a modern car company is, really. The three major manufacturers in the USA (Ford, GMC, and Cadillac) have been designing and selling 95% of American cars for almost 90 years now. I’m also pretty certain that at least one of the companies at one time or another has advertised that it is a ‘modern’ company, working for the modern person. But, just because they claim that, it does not make it true.

Tesla is ‘modernizing’ the industry, because not only is their product modern (some could argue it is revolutionary, though personally I do not agree) they are attempting to change the way automotive business is handled. Rather than going through dealers, Tesla works directly with customers to get them the car they want, an idea so shocking that the state of New Jersey is actually planning on banning the vehicle.

 

The current Tesla Model S comes with a variety of features. It’s a 4-door sedan with a large Ipad-esque touch screen computer in the front console, up to six seats, and with the engines attached to the wheels, both the front and back can be used as storage compartments. The cars can be charged at home or for free at a Tesla charge station. The cars interior and exterior have the look and feel of the newest luxury cars.

 

The newest model of Tesla is a Sports Utility Vehicle, the Model X. The Model X will feature the same style of engine from the Model S except they will be on both drive axels instead of just one. The rear doors, looking like seagull wing doors from a DeLorean DMC-12, are called ‘falcon wings,’ and open upward instead of outward. The second row seats can easily slide forward and backward, allowing easy access to the rear seats/trunk from the doors. Finally, like the Model S, the X is all battery powered; has no tailpipes or any sort of emission system. This is the future of family vehicles, finally fully realized.

Advertisements

20140306_111634

 

We’re a little late to the party but the auto industry is finally making major plays on the digital and internet stages. It’s been standard practice to have a website for any business for almost fourteen years now, but since websites generally just give information or allow you to place online orders they’re essentially phones without having a to deal with a person on the other end. Thanks to social media and the technological leaps in portable technology the way our customers interact with us is changing.

 

Pictures have been increasing in pixel size, cameras have been decreasing in physical size, and these two combinations have made things like Snapchat and Instagram incredibly accessible and thus wildly popular. Well we’re making use of these technologies in a couple of ways. Taking pictures and having a way to send them easily means now we can write estimates for minor damage without ever having to see a car. While this isn’t entirely recommended since there is always the chance of internal damage, and pictures don’t get the message across entirely, it’s a step in an interesting direction.

The newest innovation which really sticks out is now the ability for our customers to track their repairs. Thanks to the great folks at CCC Information Services, we can now have our customers look up not only the status of repairs online, but also see pictures of the process. Not every body shop will be participating in this, but at Hilton Auto Collision we’ll be doing our best to make sure our customers can check up on their cars right from the comfort of their own homes.

 

Now for my personal favorite: tablets. Tablets have been around since the mid-nineties but did not get very popular until around 2007, and are really just computers that use touch instead of hardware for interaction. This difference is invaluable, since it allows for the tablet to be portable. Thanks to its portability anyone can use it anywhere, easily, and unlike laptops they don’t have long start up times (they usually just stay on) and due to the simpler technology going into them, large amounts of fans, bulky casing, and other computer necessities are not required.

With all of this in mind, it is easy to see the future which is coming, and I for one look forward to it. Our body shop has recently received its first CCC approved tablet and when it is set up we will be writing estimates outside by our customers’ cars, right next to them, in real time. This gives a more open, less restrictive environment for both us and our customers. No longer will customers sit idly by staring uncomfortably at the unknown of the computer screen. Instead we’ll be right by you, going over the vehicle step by step as we input it into our device.

 

My father told me that in the early nineties, body shops stopped hand writing estimates and switched to computers. The change was made to make things more streamlined, to boost production, and to lower the chances of getting inflated estimates. An unintended consequence of this is it seems to have also separated customers from the body shops. A technological shift is happening right now which has the potential to remove this unintended problem. Thanks to the internet, social media, and tablets, no longer do we keep our customers out; we can now open our doors wide and let them in.