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The Evolution of Service.
In the 90 years since Walter P. Chrysler registered the Chrysler Corporation name, plenty has changed. But no landscape seems to have evolved more than the automotive service industry. In fact, when the Chrysler Corporation was in its infancy, the repair industry was just beginning to move away from hiring bicycle mechanics to fabricate parts or hiring chauffeur mechanics full time to maintain the vehicles of wealthy car owners.
Technology changes quickly, but the fundamentals do not.
By 1927, the automobile was being mass-produced. So were the standard interchangeable parts that made up each vehicle. But those parts weren’t perfect and sometimes they needed to be serviced. This gave birth to the repair garage — and the Mopar® brand — as we know it. Since its inception, Mopar has never stood stagnant. Instead, we’ve tirelessly attempted to find the best ways to provide the quality service Chrysler brand vehicle owners expect. And, as hydraulic lifts, electronic fuel injectors, ECMs, the Internet and tablet computers have all become usable technologies — changing the way repair shops do business — Mopar has remained at the forefront of the automotive repair industry.
Modesti’s Car Care Center in Culver City, California, has been around for nearly 50 years. Owner John Modesti and his son, and General Manager, Nick, have seen it all. Thanks to Moore’s Law (the law associated with observation and forecasting in the areas of technological advancement), Modesti has been able to see exponential technological growth both in the cars and in the bays where they’re serviced.
“We started out with one service bay and two jacks,” John stated. Then, we put in a hoist and basically built the building around it.” Three years later, the shop added five additional hoists, which they still use to this day. The lack of expansion since those early days is attributed to how much more efficient the shop has become around the hoists.
To stay productive, Modesti installed its first computer system to assist diagnostics and repairs in 1986. Further vehicle technology advances, like OBDII, also improved efficiencies. “We don’t have to count how many times a light blinks any more like we did in OBDI,” says Nick. “Now we can just plug in a laptop and get the codes that tell us what’s wrong … immediately.”
Evolution of Service
Tony Molla, vice president of the Automotive Service Association, has seen a lot of changes since his early days in the industry managing a FIAT® service center in the 1970s. Because of technology advances, he says today’s customers rely more on shops to provide both service and maintenance needs – which can be a boon for independent repair facilities.
“The complexity of just changing their oil, the hazards, the disposal; they’d rather just pay somebody to do it,” Molla said. “Besides, when most people open the hood on a car these days, they see another hood, which is a sign they don’t belong there.”
It seems today’s customers prioritize quality and convenience over costs, so keeping technicians up-to- date on the latest technologies is not only a necessity for surviving in the fast changing industry – it’s often a differentiator for attracting and retaining customers.
“Learning is the only maintainable competitive advantage you can have,” Molla said, “Today’s techs will probably be going to school for the rest of their careers because technology is always changing.”
Many shops are dividing more work between maintenance and master diagnosticians to better handle the volume and more complex repairs. “The Crew Chief mentality,” as Molla puts it.
Technology has also crept into the service equation in the way shops communicate with their customers. Modesti’s shop is migrating to iPad Minis, which the techs use to scan codes, take notes on repairs and communicate with increasingly tech-savvy customers in real time.
“ROs and work orders are going away completely,” Modesti said. “We can now send everything to a customer’s email address and we can get the go-ahead to do the work within minutes.”
Technology has advanced so quickly in the past few decades that it’s hard to keep track of the major changes. We asked Modesti to give us the top five technologies that have changed the industry forever.
■ The Internet – Emails and texting speeds up work exponentially.
■ Scan Tools – Scan tools are now multifunction tools that not only read issues, but can change the behavior of the car.
■ Training – Online training allows shops to stay on top of the latest technologies and cut down on costs.
■ Competition – The automotive service industry has grown massively. Online reviews allow customers to do their research before choosing where to take their car.
■ Online Ordering – Dealers used to be the only ones who had access to inventory levels. Now it can all be handled online.
Founded on June 6, 1925, Chrysler brand celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2015. This (highly) condensed look back at nine decades of driving innovation illustrates why innovative engineering and style is synonymous with the Chrysler brand.
1920s – The first Chrysler branded vehicle hits the streets: the Chrysler Six, featuring a groundbreaking L-head six-cylinder engine and four-wheel hydraulic brakes.
1930s – Chrysler brand develops “Floating Power,” (a two-point mounting system that prevents engine vibration from reaching the frame and body); a downdraft carburetor; automatic spark control; and rustproofed, welded steel bodies. Plus, the Chrysler Airflow in 1934.
1940s – The “Vacamatic,” a four-speed gearbox with two ranges is developed. Founder Walter P. Chrysler dies in August 1940.
1950s – A legendary powerplant roars to life in 1951 — the hemispheric-head V8 HEMI® engine. In 1955 the first muscle car, the Chrysler 300, featured a 300-horsepower HEMI engine. Virgil Exner’s visionary “Forward Look,” debuts in 1955. Torsion-bar front suspension, the first rear window defogger plus, child-guard rear door locks are seen in 1957.
1960s – The Sixties moves all of Chrysler Corporation’s cars to light unibody construction, improving performance and fuel economy. In 1963, Chrysler Corporation shakes up the industry by offering a five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty – the first of its kind.
1970s – Electronic ignition becomes standard on all Chrysler brand vehicles in 1973. 1975 marks the debut of the new Chrysler Cordoba and spokesperson: Hollywood actor, Ricardo Montalban, who sings the praises of “Rich Corinthian Leather.” Lee Iacocca is named President of Chrysler Corporation in 1978.
1980s – In 1984, Chrysler Corporation introduces an entirely new vehicle segment — the minivan, a front-wheel-drive compact van perfect for family transportation. With more than 75 minivan and industry innovations today, and more than 275 awards worldwide, the Chrysler minivan changed the automotive world forever.
1990s – The Chrysler brand introduces the world’s first luxury minivan, the Chrysler Town & Country, complete with imitation wood paneling and luxury accommodations not found in any other minivans of the era. The 300 nameplate returns to the Chrysler brand lineup in 1999 with the introduction of the 300M.
2000s – The merger of Daimler and Chrysler Corporation produces a number of milestones: Chrysler Pacifica “Sports Tourer” crossover vehicle in 2004, the introduction of the 2005 Chrysler 300 series (including the 5.7L HEMI engine 300C model) which will be named “Car of the Year” by Motor Trend. Plus, new Chrysler Town & Country minivan rolls off the line in 2005, offering a revolutionary new feature: Stow ‘n Go® seating and storage.
2010s – Out of bankruptcy and now part of FCA Group Marketing S.p.A. (formerly known as Fiat Group Marketing & Communications S.p.A.), the brand debuts the all-new-from-the-ground-up 2015 Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan in 2014. The first mid-size sedan to offer a nine-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment.
Three new vehicles commemorate the Chrysler brand’s 90th Anniversary. All three come with power sunroof, 90th Anniversary touchscreen messaging and floor mats.
Chrysler Town & Country 90th Anniversary Edition
The Anniversary Edition builds on the Touring-L model with bright door handles, heated first- and second-row seats, heated steering wheel, and Keyless Enter ‘n Go.™
Chrysler 300 90th Anniversary Edition
Appointments include HomeLink universal transceiver and the segment’s most technologically advanced AWD system.
Chrysler 200 90th Anniversary Edition
Upgrades include an 8.4-inch touchscreen radio with Uconnect® Access and SiriusXM Radio, and Convenience Group*.
*Convenience Group includes one-year SiriusXM Radio, body color power heated mirrors, leather wrapped steering wheel, power four-way driver lumbar adjust, power eight-way driver seat and sun visors with illuminating vanity mirrors.