Auto Service World
Feature   July 1, 2000   by Auto Service World

CONFERENCE REPORT: Change Isn’t Just In The Air, It’s On The Road

Technology will bring new challenges and new potential to the aftermarket, says the head of Delphi Automotive Systems.

“Think about the changes we’ve seen on vehicles over the last decade or so. We’ve gone from electronically controlled carburetors to throttle body injection, to electronic fuel injection, and the fuel delivery systems continue to be more complex and advanced,” says J.T. Battenberg, chairman, president and CEO, Delphi Automotive Systems.

He says that the industry is going to see more of this as new technologies arrive and drastically affect the demands on the industry.

“Our latest technology enhances disc brakes with electronic sensors. Just imagine, no more mechanical or hydraulic connections, just electrical systems and electronics. These are all changes aftermarket professionals will be facing in the future. They will require strong diagnostics support, and training will be needed to service these new technologies.”

He says that one of the most important changes coming is the integration of systems, and the multimedia revolution.

From brake by wire and four-wheel-steering systems, to sophisticated smart suspension systems that include ride control and stability, these systems will have a dramatic effect.

“These are game-changing technologies, and it won’t be long before you encounter them on the road.”

Delphi’s recent announcement with Palm Inc. of its Communiport system is an example of the type of technologies which will shape the types of systems present in cars. Combining a Palm device with a cellular phone and sophisticated software, the Communiport Mobile Productivity Center allows a driver to:

Download and read e-mail, schedule appointments and stored information;

Dictate and send electronic mail;

Record new appointments and memos;

Download and read simple Intranet text, including directions, breaking news, stock quotes and sports scores;

Request that a phone number recorded in the Palm device be dialed through Delphi’s hands-free phone, as part of Delphi’s integrated Communiport technologies.

Perhaps the most startling part of advancements like this is that it is in the realm of product, not just technology, and will be on the market later this year.

“Now, I know that for the most part, aftermarket service professionals don’t currently maintain or repair some of the systems I’ve talked about, but much of the technology I’m telling you about relies on information shared between the various vehicle systems. The cars and trucks of the future will have so many more integrated systems they will have to be at least somewhat familiar with all of them.”