Nissan Rogue 2021 Production Starts in Tennessee, U.S.
October 7, 2020
The long-awaited Nissan Rogue 2021 is coming to America. Production has already kicked off at the Nissan Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant in Tennessee. This high-tech vehicle is being produced in an award-winning facility. While the factory itself is quite advanced, this production is being led with some of the most advanced technologies and approaches possible for automobile production lines. The Nissan Rogue contains a lot of technology itself, but this time its development process will be using cutting-edge virtual technology and assistive robots are going to be used in its development. NEW CHALLENGES FROM THE NEW NORMAL COVID19 has placed new requirements on many companies across all industries. This was no different for the Nissan factory, after months of not being able to work in the factory at all, returning to work recently presented new challenges to the way staff could operate. The staff didn’t stop working while the factory was shut either. Instead, they helped to make thousands of face masks to protect the local community, a tribute to the brand and its commitment. The factory was opened up slowly in stages, allowing for adjustments to be made and new measures introduced. COVID19 meant it was in for more things such as plexiglass barriers, social distancing areas, and of course the beloved masks. However, for the workers at the factory, masks and other safety gear such as goggles are often a normal part of working on the production line. Even areas for relaxation had to be changed drastically since the start of the pandemic. Social distancing is maintained, and barriers are used in areas where masks are removed for eating or drinking. In addition to all of this, there is the necessity to sterilize the factory. And so, frequently throughout the day (approximately every two hours) production needs to be halted and all tools and areas that are touched frequently need to be fully sterilized. Despite all of this, the staff is upbeat about the new production of the Nissan Rogue coming to their facility. WHAT’S NEW ABOUT THE 2021 NISSAN ROGUE PRODUCTION? Over the years we have seen increased automation of production lines across many industries. With virtual reality, augmented reality, and 5G, the possibilities of both automation and human collaboration are increasing. Robots are even collaborating, and able to adjust to scenarios as required. David Johnson, vice president, Production Engineering and New Model Quality for Nissan North America stated “Not only have we improved the way we build the new Rogue, the team is using this new technology to build all the vehicles in our U.S. plants with better efficiency and quality for customers,” In this sense, two key aspects were mentioned in a recent press release: 1. Virtual Reality – While this has been used for a while for design and training purposes, this time the use was taken a step further. Virtual reality with realistic properties was used to not only design aspects of the new cars but to test them as well. Potential issues were refined and fixed before production even began. This was due to virtual collaboration and reviews as a part of the development. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-70.jpeg] 1. Cobots – This launch sees the largest number of collaborative robots used on the production line than on any other car created by Nissan. The robots are generally used to perform repetitive tasks to improve quality and safety. However, they also mean that existing staff are free to be reassigned to areas that require a more human touch. With these two areas combined, considerable amounts are saved in time and costs. By working out issues virtually, it saves wasted resources, delays, and possible vehicle issues down the line. The Cobots also help to increase safety, reduce chances of RSIs (repetitive strain injuries), and speed up production. This time, due to restrictions and the staggered return to production after COVID19, most of the training was also done remotely. HOW VIRTUAL REALITY IS CHANGING AUTOMOBILE PRODUCTION LINES Virtual reality is steadily changing how we can experience digital objects and scenarios. In the automobile industry, there have been some great usage cases for these virtual approaches: [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-71.jpeg] * Factory Planning – The perfect factory floor layout can be planned in virtual reality. Not only can it be planned, but it can also be tested and refined * Car Design & Testing – Cars are being both effectively designed and tested in a virtual environment. As things are to scale and interactions realistic, often faults can be found and fixed before production or real-world models begin * Reviewing & Collaboration – Although many issues are detected during virtual design, some issues can occur when in the production stage. When this happens, the best minds can instantly collaborate on the issues and resolve them quickly via virtual meetings or redesigning in a virtual space. * Assembly Training – The best minds of the project can create standardized training for existing and new employees. This helps onboard them faster and develop the skills needed for production. * Maintenance Training – Whether maintenance of vehicles or factory machinery, virtual reality is perfect for this. * Increased Safety – As people can train as much as they need virtually, it reduces the risk of untrained staff being on production lines. Virtual mistakes don’t cost the company and don’t injure staff. * Remote Assistance – If there is an emergency or a specific skill is needed, instead of calling a specialist in, they can often offer remote assistance via augmented or virtual reality devices. * Remote Workers – Once 5G is rolled out across all areas, the possibilities of ‘live’ remote actions open up. This means that a specialist could work remotely in a virtual environment, and a robot or machine on the other end performs their actions. It may not be cost-effective for some aspects, but for dangerous environments or specialist skill sets, it could be extremely useful. In some places, augmented reality is also being used to detect anomalies, track stock, and more. The possible uses are continuing to be discovered. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-72.jpeg] WHAT IS THE NEW 2021 NISSAN ROGUE GOING TO OFFER? The Rogue is not new to the market as such, but this next model is packed with some exciting features. It is one of the best sellers for Nissan and in fact, this Smyrna assembly plant is getting another five to produce. A testament to their abilities and quality product approaches. Of course, as a best seller, it goes without saying that the 2021 Rogue needed to exceed 2020 expectations. So, here we take a look at what the new Rogue will offer: Engine-wise, buyers can expect a decent drive from the 181-horsepower engine. It is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder design that is connected to a continuously variable automatic transmission. This engine is more powerful than the last model and puts out 181 lb-ft of torque. There is also a choice between front-wheel or intelligent all-wheel drive. To keep buyers interested, the exterior has also had a redesign with some sleek features, focusing more on the family market by incorporating more in-car entertainment, safety -features, and comfort. Two-tone color options will also be available. According to NissanUSA, the car comes with 3 high-tech displays, a digital dashboard, and even a heads-up display that can project useful information onto the windshield, such as sat-nav directions. The Standard Safety Shield 360 is a major selling point of the vehicle. It is an advanced collection of driver’s assist and other safety features to both make driving a pleasure and the vehicle considerably safer. Safety Shield 360 includes: * Blind-spot warnings * Lane departure warnings * High beam assistance * Reversing automated braking * Rear alert for crossing traffic or pedestrians * Automated emergency braking that includes pedestrian detection NissanUSA also states that the intelligent all-wheel-drive system is advanced enough to tackle the trickiest of driving surfaces. It can adjust as required to allow safer driving on gravel, dirt, wet surfaces, and even snow and ice. The Nissan Rogue also comes with all of these included, even from the basic trim: * Keyless entry * Push-button startup * Hands-free and text messaging assistant * Apple CarPlay * Android Auto * Satellite radio * Heated front seats * Heated steering wheel * Heated mirrors * Automatic headlamps * Tire pressure monitoring (plus Easy Fill Tire Alert for correct pressures) * Two-tone exterior paint This is quite an inclusive range of technologies to be included at all trim levels. TO WRAP UP The Nissan Rogue is both full of the latest technology and also using the latest approaches in its development and production. Nissan is not the first company to take on virtual reality approaches in the automobile industry and is unlikely to be the last. Virtual reality, assistive robots, and modern work approaches via 5G is changing how we live and work.
Experts Predict Massive Growth In Augmented Reality In Automotive Industry
October 5, 2020
The automotive industry continues to change and evolve year after year. Now, innovations in augmented reality (AR) are being incorporated into the automotive industry. According to a recent study, the global augmented reality automotive market is projected to reach USD 9 Billion by 2025 due to the growth in technological advancements, growing connected vehicles, and growing consumer demand for more in-vehicle safety features. The global augmented reality automotive market’s consistent growth and demand is also dependent on the region, with North America dominating the market in 2019 and will likely continue to rise in the next five years alone. BENEFITS OF AUGMENTED REALITY IN AUTOMOTIVE Automotive companies’ investments in augmented reality can greatly benefit drivers in many ways such as: * Enhanced auto retail experience * Convenient shopping and buying research * Increased safety features * Advancements in self-driving automobiles Augmented reality can also benefit manufacturers by: * Easier design and prototype creation * Streamlining assembly process * Increased speed and safety for car repairs HOW WILL AUGMENTED REALITY AFFECT DRIVERS? Augmented reality will likely change the way that drivers shop for cars as well as enhance the driving experience. For the most part, it seems that augmented reality will actually make roads safer as the primary usage for AR in vehicles seems to focus on safety features. However, an increasing demand in self-driving cars will likely also drive the market in the future. CHANGES IN BUYING BECAUSE OF COVID-19, BUT LASTING CONSUMER PREFERENCES This projected increase could also be in part to changes in how consumers shop for automobiles. In general, online retail and spending has continued to increase year after year. Many online retailers are incorporating augmented reality into their online shopping experience. You can now find options for “virtual try-ons” on many online retail shops such as Warby Parker which uses such technology to allow customers to “try on” glasses before ordering them. Auto retail has also adopted online retail techniques but has not caught up to the complete augmented reality experience, until now. The impact of COVID-19 on consumers’ purchasing practices has forced the automotive market to completely rethink their selling techniques and consumer shopping experience, and this new experience in auto retail is likely to be a permanent shift. The global augmented reality automotive market’s boost can likely be attributed to the higher demand in online and at-home shopping experiences. With augmented reality and virtual reality, consumers can now “try on” a car from the comfort of their homes. Virtual showrooms are increasingly the way buyers prefer their car shopping experience. Consumers are becoming increasingly knowledgeable before purchasing. Even if they are planning on viewing the vehicle in-person, many buyers prefer to research and view the car before going to a dealership. They can now view not just the exterior of a car but also the interior as if they are actually sitting inside the vehicle. They can even view color options and added features before purchasing and can view all these options without ever having to go to a dealership. This change in consumer shopping habits plays a big role in the increased demand in augmented reality and virtual reality availability. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-15.jpeg] FULFILL CONSUMER IN-VEHICLE SAFETY DEMANDS Along with a shift in how buyers choose to shop for a car, the automotive industry needs to meet the demands and needs of today’s consumers. The demand for more in-vehicle safety features has also helped to fuel the global augmented reality automotive market. Drivers are increasingly looking for safety features in a car that anticipates and avoids accidents. More and more buyers are looking for vehicles that have more advanced and innovative safety features such as blind spot detection and panoramic rear views. These safety features can often make-or-break a buyer’s choice. Augmented reality in the automotive market can also satisfy consumer’s increasing demands for self-driving vehicles in the future. Tesla already has self-driving features in their vehicles, and it is likely they will merge these features with their AR developments in future vehicles. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-68.jpeg] CURRENT USAGE OF AR IN CARS Augmented reality might seem like something futuristic, but many auto companies are already implementing AR into their vehicles. Many companies are also using augmented reality for their vehicle’s manuals. A driver can download an accompanying app and use the app and computer vision to identify features in the car then learn more about use as well as give important information about maintenance. Another current usage of AR in vehicles are heads up displays (HUD). Many automotive companies such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and Mazda already have vehicles that use this form of AR to help enhance the driving experience. Vehicles with HUD use augmented reality to project data for the driver such as: * Speed * Directions * Gas levels * Lane guidance * Parking assistance This information is projected onto the windshield so that drivers do not have to take their eyes off the road even for a second. With more advancements in AR, drivers will be able to receive more real-time data as they drive and have more control without ever looking away from the road. The overall potential of AR in automobiles helps to create a more enhanced experience for drivers that will also help reduce traffic accidents and improve longevity of vehicles. WHAT CHANGES CAN AUGMENTED REALITY BRING TO THE AUTOMOTIVE MARKET? The massive growth in the global augmented reality automotive market will not only bring changes and improvements to consumer experience and use, but it will also bring changes to design, manufacturing, and the auto repair industry. DESIGN AND PROTOTYPES Designing and creating prototypes for vehicles can be extremely costly and time consuming. However, using augmented reality, manufacturers can utilize existing models and overlay them with new designs and elements. Some automobile companies are also utilizing smart glasses to design vehicles. It is also a great way for collaboration on projects as edits on designs can be made immediately and shared with all participants. AR also helps to prevent costly manufacturing of prototypes. Immediate changes and improvements can be made to a virtual model rather than creating new physical prototypes with each design change. CAR ASSEMBLY Along with designing new vehicles, AR can help to streamline and boost accuracy in car assembly. Much of the car assembly process is actually still manual which can lead to errors and often makes for a slower process. However, AR can help to optimize the process of assembly to make it quicker, more accurate, and safer for workers. Some car manufacturers are looking into how to utilize augmented reality technology such as smart glasses to help production. Information would be displayed for workers and they can follow step-by-step instructions that are overlaid on specific parts. This can make the manual process more accurate and helps reduce human errors. Another way manufacturers, such as Tesla, are hoping to utilize AR in the assembly process is to use it as a form of quality inspection as the AR applications can scan for inaccuracies and precise measurements. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-69.jpeg] AR IN CAR REPAIR Augmented reality is helping automotive technicians to be able to perform complex repairs and maintenance to vehicles more accurately and quickly. Just as car manufacturers are providing drivers with AR manuals, they are providing similar interactive manuals for repairs. Many companies already implement this technology for their technicians. They use the manuals on mobile devices such as tablets to view step-by-step instructions. This helps to increase accuracy and makes the repair process quicker. New advances in augmented reality is helping to create innovative tools to help auto technicians connect to other support services quicker. In 2017, Porsche launched a new pilot program called Tech Live Look that incorporates using AR smart glasses. The technician wears the glasses as they are working and when they need assistance they can contact a remote support service worker. Through the AR smart glasses the remote worker can view exactly what the auto technician is working on and can guide them through the process. The pilot program in several Porsche dealerships showed a 40% reduction in repair time and the company now plans to expand the use of augmented reality to all their dealerships. GLOBAL INVESTMENTS IN AUGMENTED REALITY BOOSTS AUTOMOTIVE MARKET The growth and investment in the global augmented reality automotive market will change the automotive industry in many ways. While it will be costly to implement AR, it will actually save money for both manufacturers and drivers in the long run. Manufacturers will be able to design and produce vehicles easier, quicker, and more reliably. Drivers will have increased safety measures resulting in fewer car accidents, and they will see longevity in their vehicles with more enhanced safety and maintenance features. Investing in augmented reality can also help boost an automotive company’s appeal to consumers through virtual showrooms and dealerships. RelayCars can help enhance the virtual showroom experience with high quality images and an immersive online experience. Using RelayCars, shoppers can carefully research cars they are looking to purchase before even stepping foot in the dealership.
Hearing the World with Augmented Reality
October 2, 2020
Visual wearables are the most well-known type of this growing technology, most notably for the flop that was Google Glass. But, hearables are taking over as the hot new trend in augmented reality. From real-time navigation to responsive voice-enabled search features, in-ear devices are small, discreet, and easy to bring with you everywhere you go. Read on to learn how auditory wearable tech has grown within the AR sphere, and why experts expect that this technology is here to stay. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-65.jpeg] AUGMENTED REALITY VS. VIRTUAL REALITY Virtual reality has long used audio and visual elements to transport users to a completely manufactured digital world. Augmented reality, on the other hand, combines digital elements with the user’s real-world view. When it comes to the future of AR-enabled hearables, this distinction is important to understand because both technologies provide entirely different experiences for the user. As a result of the changes caused by COVID-19, much of the American workforce will be working from home for the foreseeable future. This has created a growing demand for smart hearables, which give remote workers additional flexibility. Common uses for smart aural wearables include: * Hands-free calling * Voice-activated web searching * Noise cancellation * Improved multitasking More advanced models are adapting their technology to act as a secondary “set of ears” for the wearer, from automatic Google searches to real-time language translation. Using hearables as a pathway for augmented reality tech creates an extra layer of insight into the information the wearer is already taking in. AI and interconnectivity with the internet of things gives users an unprecedented level of access, without the need for auxiliary equipment. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-66.jpeg] USES FOR AUGMENTED REALITY One of the most critical components of a successful augmented reality system is seamless interconnectivity. Excessive lag time or lack of compatibility between practical and digital objects can make the AR experience clunky and impossible to navigate. To ensure a fluid connection between the digital and real worlds, augmented reality-enabled wearables use one of two methods to distribute information. CUSTOMIZED CONTENT Did you know that advertisers often collect location information to create tailored experiences for different users? Using this feature, wearables provide brands with the perfect way to build individualized ad campaigns that users will enjoy and, as a result, engage with more. Everything from radio commercials to social media ads use demographic information to appeal to a specific audience. Since more and more consumers are preferring interactive media like music, audiobooks, podcasts, and video, in-ear devices provide the perfect platform for location-specific content. We’re spending more time than ever before on digital communication. As augmented reality gains more traction in the mainstream market, brands are already starting to capitalize on this segmentation tool. SPEECH RECOGNITION Absorbing audio information from the outside environment makes it possible for these devices to recognize, and subsequently, translate spoken language in real time. But, this is not the only use case for in-ear smart devices. Wearable audio devices are also used to aid computers in collecting and processing phonetic speech. Siphoning sounds present in spoken language allows artificial intelligence to build its digital knowledge base and “learn” about user behaviors. VIRTUAL ENTERTAINMENT Unfortunately, COVID-19 has quashed many of our travel plans this year. But, what if you could visit a world-famous art museum from your couch? Using immersive media via augmented reality, this technology is being applied for virtual entertainment. Similar to visual AR methods, hearable in-ear devices allow the reader to experience media with even more depth and engagement. Augmented reality allows these devices to incorporate auditory assisting in real time, such as supplementary information and synced music, using tools like: * Geo-location tracking * Activity monitoring/idle timekeeping * Device interconnectivity Wearables are growing in popularity as people look for more innovative ways to simplify their routines. Augmented reality provides an effective solution by following the user throughout their day, acting as a digital fly on the wall. While standard mobile assistants can provide some level of support, in-ear wearables keep the user connected 24/7, no matter their physical location. IMPROVED ACCESSIBILITY FOR MOBILE USERS Being able to layer digital audio elements over sounds that are being transmitted in real time makes mobile computing even more accessible for various users. This capability allows the individual to maintain a high level of control over this aspect of their sensory response. With augmented reality powering internet-enabled devices, the user can adjust the amount of external noise they’d like to take in. Additionally, they can control the sound levels of their AI assistant, incoming calls, background music, and more. For those who are especially sensitive to sensory overload, the incorproate of smart technology into hearable devices addresses a common and widespread gap in the market. MOBILE DEVICE COMPATIBILITY AND THE INTERNET OF THINGS Thanks to the IoT, mobile device users across all platforms, brands, and industries can keep their digital lives connected and running smoothly. This has made it easier than ever for wearable developers to tap into an exponentially growing consumer market. Hearing aids, for example, can the Internet of Things to improve the user’s safety by providing round-the-clock monitoring. If the device picks up interruptions in the user’s heart rate, breathing, it can use this data to make “informed” decisions about the person’s health. Audible devices use sensors, voice commands, contextual information, and auxiliary digital content to create a functional digital world that is accessible from anywhere, at any time. Instead of fully immersive VR programs that require reality-altering glasses or headsets, in-ear devices can apply augmented reality features over external noise and speech. From measuring interactions to new medications to notifying emergency services about a fall or accident, interconnected wearable technology has the potential to make the world safer and more secure for all individuals. PRACTICAL REAL-WORLD USES Safety is one of the primary catalysts to the development of this revolutionary system of technology. By reducing distractions and providing information seamlessly with the user’s day to day life. Interacting with real information in real time helps IoT-enabled devices to “learn” about the world through the ears of the user. Construction workers, for example, can apply this technology to stay alert and on task with in-ear alerts and hands-free notifications. This same functionality can keep workers safe by predicting dangerous situations and making the user aware of dangers like nearby ledges, heavy loads, and even personal injury from over exertion. With cloud-based connectivity and inter-device compatibility, in-ear tech can also utilize biometric data to keep the user safe and secure. POWER AND UTILITIES SUPPORT How are utility providers using the same technology that Snapchat uses to put freckles on its users? Turns out, auditory and visual components in the AR sphere have a significant amount of overlap. Power companies are using this development to improve their services. By siphoning user data related to their individual behaviors throughout the day, utility companies can use hearable tech to understand the behavior of their customers. Using this information, providers can create individualized service plans for both parties to save money and energy in the process. When it comes to task automation, in-ear tech is also helping companies save money by reducing project redundancies and improving efficiency on part of the technicians. Thanks to total hands-free access, in-ear devices make multitasking safer and more effective. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-67.jpeg] BIOMETRIC CONNECTIVITY FOR HEALTH APPLICATIONS Many of us already have biometric features in our smartphones, but hearables are taking this accessibility up a notch. Using biometric information such as movement, heart rate, and breathing patterns, AI-connected in-ear devices can learn about our individual habits to provide tailored, individualized health solutions. These futuristic devices are more intuitive than your standard heart rate monitor. Some manufacturers are already using photoplethysmography, which measures small changes in light reflectivity to gauge the wearer’s pulse and blood pressure. This development is also making wearable technology more comfortable by eliminating the need for additional equipment like wristbands and bulky sensors. Wearable technology is quickly becoming a wardrobe staple for just about everyone, for a variety of reasons from health to productivity. In-ear tech has the potential to completely change the way we live by reducing external distractions, improving sensory intake, and simplifying daily processes safely. With wearable technology becoming more mainstream and accessible than ever before, staying tapped into the web all day long is becoming a growing facet of daily life. Consumers are relying on augmented reality images and media to enhance and improve their day-to-day routines, and wearables are leading this dynamic market. If you’re looking for a way to give your multitasking skills a boost, these are just a few reasons why augmented reality is making waves within the auditory wearable industry.
Check Out the Latest Audis Inside and Out with Audi Virtual Reality
September 30, 2020
The way that people experience cars and the world in general, has been changing. Virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality are adding new ways of interacting with and experiencing the world around us. The German car manufacturer Audi saw the potential for how these technologies could change the automotive industry. It isn’t just that they can be used in cars for entertainment, but that these virtual elements are being used to enhance almost every step of the process. This is because these technologies can be used for almost everything, from training to the showroom. Numerous manufacturers are already using virtual reality as a way to train staff safely, allowing them to practice virtually before working on machinery or the production line. Audi has been using some level of virtual reality in its dealerships since 2016. Part of the experience has required staff adjustment, moving away from real world cars, and yet enabling sales through virtual experiences. Moving towards real-time and interactive visualizations takes dealerships to a new model. A headset can allow visitors to view car models in full detail and full size. However, what’s possible goes far beyond that. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-62.jpeg] HOW VIRTUAL REALITY IS IMPACTING AUDI SHOWROOMS Some think that virtual reality could replace real-world showrooms. However, it is unlikely to do that in the near future. Instead, the trend seems to be a combination of remote testing and view at home by potential customers, as well as in-store virtual reality experiences. Most shoppers nowadays will start with online research. Even those in actual stores considering a product will often look for reviews online before buying. The confidence in online shopping has dramatically grown since the early years, to the point that people are willing to buy cars and even houses online. However, for the sellers, the challenge has always been providing an end to end experience. With virtual reality, it is now possible for buyers to research, experience, and even test drive virtually – eventually leading to purchase, sometimes without even seeing the car. That said, it is not the end of showrooms. Many still like to be able to talk to someone, compare products, and get ‘expert’ advice. After all, not everything you read online is a fact. This is where virtual reality is becoming a powerful bridge and tool for salespeople in real-world showrooms. As reported by sytner.com “[Virtual reality] also opens up the possibility for small dealerships – that may only be able to store a small number of Audi new cars”. The use of virtual reality may reduce showroom sizes, but could also significantly increase showroom numbers as setup costs are greatly reduced, possibly allowing for previously unviable areas to get their showrooms. As an example of how this can work, the Audi virtual reality experience allows potential customers to view the full range of cars and options from one location. It isn’t a case of “sorry sir, we don’t have that model in stock” anymore. Instead, all models and upgrades can be stored virtually at every showroom, reducing stock requirements. The Audi system uses stereoscopic 3D rendering and real car construction models to develop its system with Zerolight. The result is virtualized cars that look real, inside and out. Even the inner workings of the engine and mechanisms are included in the experience. Customers can see more of the car than was possible with real-world demonstrations. As cars in the virtual world include every detail of their real-world counterparts but aren’t solid like their brothers and sisters, customers can see inside engines, doors, and more. While for many it isn’t a major selling point, it certainly is interesting to be able to view absolutely any aspect of a car. For those with experience and mechanical knowledge, this x-ray style insight into the mechanics behind the car’s features can also help to inspire confidence and increase interest. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-63.jpeg] HOW VIRTUAL REALITY IS CHANGING CAR SALES Audi has developed its virtual reality application and for most areas, this will run on the Oculus Rift headset. This allows for advanced car models that are realistic and explorable in every way. The graphics, as previously mentioned, are backed by the high-performance technologies of Zerolight. Taking the viewing any part of the vehicle aspect further, it does allow for sales staff to be able to not only show off the car, but also any new technologies that are built into the models being viewed. Instead of only being able to say the door as a new comfort seating system, it is possible for the customer to actually see it and even compare it to other vehicles. Most of the time, however, visitors want to see just a few models they like. While this was often possible from a normal showroom, for sales staff virtual reality expands things further. For example, say that a customer would like to see an Audi RS5. Before virtual reality, the sales staff could show off the RS5 in stock and any possible other models of interest that were in the showroom. With virtual reality as a sales tool, they can now show off the Audi RS5 and any Audi in the entire range that might be of interest to the customer. What’s more, not only can they show every vehicle of interest, but also every possible adjustment. This is because all of the virtualized cars are based on the real development plans of the real cars, carefully adding almost every detail to size and perfectly displayed. This means that should a customer want to see the sports trim, with a few extra add-ons, they can do so almost instantly with a few selections within the virtual reality experience. This is an incredibly powerful tool for selling upgrades, as instead of just hearing about the benefits, customers can visually experience exactly what they are considering buying. Audi is going full-on into incorporating virtual reality with its “Customer Private Lounges” across the region. To date, there are hundreds of dealerships with fully kitted lounges that show off the Audi range virtually. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-64.jpeg] This means that potential buyers can put on a headset in a safe environment to explore any car they choose. It allows them to configure the car as they please, within the available options. As the virtual world is fully immersive, the scale and vehicles in the virtual environment feel extremely realistic and to size. Even the lighting can be changed, so the car can be seen shimmering on a summer’s day, or looking aggressive in twilight lighting. This might seem a strange feature at first, but it is a great way for a buyer to see how the car ‘feels’ at night, particularly from the driving seat perspective. AUDI – A FOCUS ON VIRTUAL REALITY EXPERIENCES Despite all of the above points being great, for Audi, there is a strong desire to provide a real experience to their customers. Sure, being able to show off all of the features of all possible models is a step, but ideally, you want visitors to be inspired. After all, this is intended to be a sales tool, and nothing sells better than an amazing experience. It is for this reason that Audi took things one step further, but creating not only virtual environments to view cars, but also virtual experiences that relate to the cars. This isn’t just related to being in a car, or the environment where the car is set, but with Audi’s history and related experience. Customers can get to feel like they are at the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race, even to the extent of experiencing an ‘up close and personal’ pit stop via “special Audi moments”. OTHER WAYS AUDI IS USING VIRTUAL REALITY Audi has embraced extended reality (XR) for business. Extended reality is all forms of virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality. They are looking at how it can revolutionize the automobile industry. However, Audi isn’t just considering how it can assist with learning, guidance, and virtual meeting. They are also looking to the future, a future where soon we will likely be spending a lot more time in cars where vehicle engagement isn’t required. These extended realities will likely play a big part in keeping people entertained and connected while on the move. 5G is going to make real automation and even remote operation possible. However, with that bandwidth comes the possibility of live streaming games, events, and more to headsets or other virtual devices. This can be anything from making the journey more fun with mixed reality games or characters being added along the route, to being able to watch the game live in full virtual reality while being seated in the driver’s seat returning from work. How cars are seen and how the automotive industry works could be almost unrecognizable in the not too distant future. Assembly line workers could be both trained and able to work remotely with virtual or mixed reality, cars will become autonomous, and sales rooms could shrink and no longer need stock, and that’s if showrooms don’t eventually become entirely virtual … with the test drive vehicle autonomously delivering itself to your door.
Virtual Reality Holds the Keys to the Future of the Automotive Industry
September 29, 2020
The automotive industry drives and thrives on innovation. New makes and models are introduced by every manufacturer each year and, as technology moves at warp speed, the features and mechanics of these new designs also are driven by new advances. Virtual reality and augmented reality have existed for years, but these platforms have slowly funneled into automotive mechanics and design, marketing initiatives and sales concepts implemented by the manufacturers. In many ways, virtual reality holds the keys to the future of the automotive industry and can positively impact the consumer experience—both behind the wheel and in the sales process. Consumers have become accustomed to augmented reality in GPS devices and safety features like backup cameras and smart rearview windows that incorporate aspects of augmented and virtual reality. However, virtual reality and augmented reality intersect and weave throughout many segments of this industry. We’ll explore how both virtual reality and augmented reality are positioned to enhance the driving experience, product design engineering and the car shopping process, too. Buckle up, and get ready to merge into the fast lane with this innovative technology. VOLVO AND VIRTUAL REALITY Volvo has integrated virtual reality into its manufacturing process for years. Volvo made history in 2015 when it became the first automotive company to partner with Microsoft to utilize Hololens technology in automotive design. Hololens allowed executives and team members to visualize the new models in 3D and showcased them in a real world environment (i.e. augmented reality instead of virtual reality). CNET reported that “Volvo uses HoloLens in its engineering and design meetings….” The same article from CNET predicted that Volvo also was looking to incorporate the technology for service technicians, too. In 2019, Volvo partnered with Varjo to integrate augmented reality into the testing of safety features and to further aid in product development. According to a press release from Volvo: “Compared to its predecessor, the XR-1 adds high-definition cameras to the headset and enables mixed reality. This allows Volvo Cars designers and engineers to ‘drive’ future cars and evaluate all features in a simulation environment many years before they exist, enabling the company to develop the safest cars with the most refined user experience possible.” CAR SHOPPING VIRTUALLY: HOW TOYOTA UTILIZED AUGMENTED REALITY TO ENHANCE THE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE In 2019, Toyota was making headlines across trade and industry publications for using augmented reality to elevate the consumer’s shopping experience. Toyota partnered with Vertebrae and Saatchi & Saatchi to create a virtual shopping experience that, according to the announcement via Vertebrae, required no apps or downloads. The online experience allowed shoppers to “…place the AR vehicle in any environment (in their driveway or garage – or in front of their office) and walk around the vehicle to explore it at any angle.” As Covid-19 swept across the United States and shut down many businesses that were deemed nonessential, many dealerships and manufacturers embraced virtual reality and augmented reality to simulate the car buying experience from home. RelayCars provided dealerships with an online virtual showroom a platform that allowed consumers to preview different makes and models from the comfort of home. Shoppers could view the interior and exterior of different vehicles and even preview different paint colors. While these virtual platforms allowed consumers to explore their options, for some dealerships, virtual test drives also were offered. These test drives could be utilized via an app—like a game. Others, though, simply allowed shoppers to schedule a test drive remotely. The dealership delivered the vehicle to the shopper’s home for a personalized test drive. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-59.jpeg] AUGMENTED REALITY AND VEHICLE SAFETY Many new models are equipped with augmented reality features that may enhance the driver’s safety, or, at least, improve the driving experience. Smart rearview mirrors can utilize cameras from the back of the car for an enhanced view of the traffic (or obstacles) behind the driver. This feature is especially useful during night driving or when navigating in poorly lit areas (like a parking garage). Other features in our cars also take advantage of this unique technology. If you use a GPS system for navigation, the computerized paths generated over the street views to denote your route are an example of how augmented reality simplifies your journey. Accessing your backup (or front end) cameras to view your turning radius or to check your proximity to other cars and obstacles also is another form of automotive augmented reality at work. These cameras and the navigation prompts they provide may help eliminate minor fender benders. CNET delved into the world of automotive augmented reality last summer. CNET’s story highlighted the new GMC pickups that featured “…a transparent trailer view option.” This unique vantage point was a bit like throwing an invisibility cloak over the trailer; the driver could see behind their truck as if the trailer wasn’t even there! VIRTUAL REALITY: MARKETING & DESIGN While most drivers will be greeted with some form of augmented reality in their vehicles, virtual reality’s use for drivers is a bit more limited…for now. Virtual platforms enhance the shopping experience and allow consumers to preview cars and explore features, but, during drivetime, virtual reality isn’t really integrated into the navigation system. This technology is still incredibly important in the industry, though. While drivers don’t necessarily step into the virtual realm on the road, designers, engineers and executives do immerse in the virtual. The integration of virtual reality into the design process has helped to transform this aspect of the industry. During Covid, Joel Piaskowski (of Ford) spoke with Automobile Magazine about how virtual reality platforms allowed executives to continue the design process while working remotely during the pandemic. By utilizing virtual reality headsets, executives could view three-dimensional models of vehicles and assess the features as a team. Avatars represented each team member within the virtual world. Piaskowski told the magazine that executives could swap vantage points to view the model from another team member’s angle and also could utilize laser pointers within the virtual platform to pinpoint specific features. Other manufacturers have utilized virtual reality platforms for marketing purposes. For example, BMW offered a virtual test drive on Mars for its X3 model! Consumers could navigate the red planet from behind the wheel of the luxury X3; however, user experience was limited…as the test drive was via YouTube. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-60.jpeg] VIRTUAL REALITY & NASCAR Even before Covid, NASCAR fans embraced virtual reality racing in the form of iRacing. Fans could take to the track in a simulated virtual reality racing challenge. NASCAR provided two options—a race where all cars were equal and another where fans could change up their cars. Races provided simulated racing experiences where drivers competed for championship glory…from anywhere. Those with virtual reality headsets—like Oculus Rift or Pimax—could jump onto the track for a more realistic experience that immersed them into the race. However, racers didn’t have to use a headset to compete in the iRacing competitions. iRacing allowed diehard racing fans to experience the thrill of NASCAR even when races might have been halted because of the pandemic. Fans could race on a variety of tracks including Texas Motor Speedway, Fairbury Speedway, Lime Rock Park, Silverstone, Daytona International Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 24h Le Mans and many more! When Covid hit and halted the racing season, NASCAR responded by airing their eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series. While fans could already take to the virtual track, the online virtual reality world became the solution to keep race fans enjoying their favorite sport. In an article for CBS Sports, Scott Warfield, NASCAR’s Managing Director for Gaming, was interviewed about the virtual races: “I think we were confident in what it would do because of what we’ve seen over the past 11 years,” Warfield explained (to CBS). “With that said, I’d be lying if I thought it would do 1.3 million viewers and it would be broadcasted in 160 countries around the world. I’ve gotten more emails and texts from friends and family and college buddies about iRacing and different events they’re seeing over the last three weeks on Sunday than outside of the Daytona 500. “It’s not replacing the Cup Series, it’s not replacing the NBA or any of this other stuff. We understand that. But it’s filling a little bit of a void and it’s real and it’s dramatic and it’s unpredictable and the finishes have been great. All of those things that make sports special, there’s components of all of that in this.” [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-61.jpeg] VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY: THE FUTURE OF THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY NASCAR drivers are racing virtually. Safety features integrating augmented reality help aid drivers during commutes. Manufacturers also utilized virtual reality to showcase car models while design teams were forced to work from home during the pandemic. To simplify the car shopping process during shelter-in-place mandates, manufacturers and dealerships provided virtual showrooms to help prospective buyers find their ideal car, allowing them to see inside and even update paint hues. While all of these advancements have thrust the automotive industry into a high-tech realm, the industry has merely touched on the beginning of how virtual and augmented reality will enhance the driving experience…and the industry as a whole. Design teams can merely speculate about the possible uses of virtual reality and how it can—and will—change the features of future models. Self-driving cars are the future of automotive technology, and drivers could be completely bumped from the driver’s seat. In their place, perhaps an avatar will be positioned in the driver’s seat. Maybe that avatar looks like the car’s owner. Or perhaps we will be able to choose the appearance of virtual drivers. Maybe no one will sit in the driver’s seat! Apple filed a patent for a smart windshield. According to news reports, details of the patent possibly reveal that this smart windshield will feature Facetime capabilities. The possibilities for a smart windshield, though, could be endless. In a self-driving car, this type of windshield also could allow passengers to surf the web or handle other business matters (although this isn’t speculated in reports related to the patent). The evolution of technology and its constant advancement leaves so many doors open as to how virtual and augmented reality platforms can be integrated in design and development, too. For Jaguar, virtual reality has been a pivotal part of the design process, but the technology also has been vital for other processes, too. Jaguar Land Rover’s Virtual Reality Centre “is considered to be the most advanced Virtual Reality facility in the automotive industry.” Jaguar has used virtual reality in its development for more than a decade (since 2008), and, for the luxury manufacturer, virtual reality isn’t simply limited to design and 3D models. In the company’s blog, Andy Richardson, who is a manager of the Jaguar Land Rover Simulation Group in the United Kingdom wrote: “The power and flexibility of the system is such that it is not just restricted to vehicles. We’ve used Virtual Reality to help with the design of the factories we use to assemble the vehicles. Virtual Reality helped us to visualize the vehicle as it passes through every stage of the manufacturing process to optimize the tools, facilities and processes to ensure each vehicle can be made just as engineering intended.” CONSUMER COMFORT & VIRTUAL REALITY Manufacturers and dealerships are embracing virtual reality for numerous reasons. Consumers may seemingly have no choice but to embrace it, too. Although, many consumers have embraced it and perhaps may even prefer the virtual to the reality. Covid forced most consumers to limit their shopping to essential items only. However, some consumers still needed to buy a new car, even when dealerships might have been closed to in-person traffic. Covid, after all, didn’t stop mechanical breakdowns or other issues that might lead to the replacement of an old model. How do you preview a new car, though, when you can’t visit the dealership? Virtual reality showrooms! In the period of April 25 to April 27, 16 percent of those who responded to the Covid-19 Digital Shopping Study said that the “ability to purchase completely online” was one of the “Triggers that could accelerate vehicle purchase.” In addition, about 66 percent of those responded said that they were “more likely to buy the vehicle 100% online.” While the report didn’t highlight virtual showrooms or virtual test drives, for many shopping online for a car, these experiences could have aided their search and helped them feel more comfortable. The reality is that Covid has likely forced many to reconcile any discomfort of shopping online and even making major purchases online, because, for many industries, online shopping was the only option. The pandemic changed buying habits, and online shopping and the use of virtual reality and augmented reality to aid the quest of online shopping will probably become a more normalized way to shop and explore new services, experiences and products. As more sales head online, virtual reality also will likely be used to provide consumers with a simulation of interactions that are so vital to the in-store experience. In the realm of automotive sales, virtual reality will likely take the driver’s seat. Consumers may experience more virtual options, including immersive test drive experiences. Driving on Mars may only be the beginning of what the industry will offer. If self-driving cars become the normalized way to commute, these test drives could take place as virtual simulations in the dealership. Virtual showrooms may be inclusive to physical showrooms. We might walk into a dealership and see a projection of a new vehicle. The hologram could be completely interactive and allow shoppers to virtually open doors and peek inside the vehicle. The future of virtual reality for the automotive industry is really open to the imagination and genius new innovations of designers and engineers. Buckle up, because the virtual ride will most likely be an exhilarating journey!
Training Employees for Automotive Assembly Using Augmented Reality Apps
September 28, 2020
Although the use of virtual reality and augmented reality training isn’t restricted to the vehicle assembly line, it is a good example of how these technologies are changing our approaches to learning real-world skills. In the past, education would often follow a standard pattern of studying the theory and then applying the practical use on the job or under supervised scenarios. While this has, to some degree, worked for decades, there is a better way. With automotive augmented reality training, there is no need for these learning processes to be separated. It can be a smooth transition from learning the theory, to seeing how it works, and practicing. All of this is also done in a safe virtual environment, reducing risks and costs for employers. A lot of new employees (and their supervisors) can experience high levels of stress when the ‘on the job’ training starts. This is mainly due to the possibility that something serious could go wrong, halting production, or even causing an injury. With Augmented reality, the training can begin in the virtual world, and that training support can even be overlaid onto the real world. This helps to increase confidence and avoid issues. It allows new staff to practice to their heart’s content until they feel confident enough to take on the job for real. In this article, we take a look at the many areas augmented and virtual training can improve for automotive processes. HOW CAN AUGMENTED REALITY BE USED IN TRAINING FOR THE ASSEMBLY LINE? Virtual reality and augmented reality allow staff to practice and fully develop complex skill sets in the safety of a harmless virtual environment. This makes it a useful way of training staff for almost any job but is particularly effective for automotive production training. Many major car manufacturers have already jumped on this training approach, including famous brands like Volkswagen and Audi. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-55.jpeg] CASE STUDY BMW wanted to improve its training program, and so contacted Capgemini. The aim was to get people trained up faster and to a high standard, but without needing additional staff commitments or delays in other areas. The solution was an AR training app that “provided employees with access to individual, hands-on dashboard assembly practice before being put into the assembly line”. It resulted in impressive benefits, such as reducing costs, reducing training times, improving staff job satisfaction, and more. The app was also created to be easily updated and expandable, allowing for more BMW training programs to be developed. DEEPENING UNDERSTANDINGS Learning from books is all very well and good, but augmented reality can almost literally bring learning to life. The 2D diagrams and explanations in books are helpful, but with augmented reality, people can see the ‘real’ objects and interact with them in a quite natural way. Being able to move, pull apart, or even ‘explode’ and object into its individual parts can give a much deeper understanding of it. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-56.jpeg] If advanced enough, augmented reality apps can also allow students what happens when things are not aligned properly, or if parts of the process are skipped. This not only shows them how things work but why every part of the process is important. Being able to see how everything fits together and works is more of a fun and interactive experience, which in turn leads to better knowledge retention in many students/employees. SAFETY The main and most obvious impact on safety is the ability for trainees to be able to practice potentially dangerous tasks in a safe virtual environment. This makes the transition to ‘on the job’ practice less daunting and reduces risk significantly. VXCHNGE points out that “The factory floor has always been a complex and potentially hazardous environment, but AR technology could provide a new level of visibility.” This is good for employers and staff, as fewer injuries result in less time off work and less expense on legal claims or compensation. Fewer claims can also result in lowered insurance premiums. However, virtual training can also help to improve safety in other ways, such as practicing the procedures of worst-case scenarios. This enables staff to be prepared, without the need to shut down a facility or machine to practice the process. COST REDUCTIONS We mentioned above that a safer environment could result in reduced premiums, but there are also plenty of other cost savings. New staff can practice as much as they need, without taking up more time or focus from supporting staff members, as AR apps handle the training process. Staff working with objects or materials do not need raw materials and resources to train. Materials normally required to train staff will largely no longer be needed, such as engine parts or panels that would be required to practice on. The equipment is also not taken out of service for practice purposes, or the company doesn’t need additional equipment to be held aside purely for practice. As staff get to practice virtually as they need, and can even get augmented support on the job, mistakes are reduced. Fewer mistakes lead to fewer production issues and lowered training costs. TRAINING EFFICIENCY Whether augmented or virtual reality is used, this immersive training approach improves training consistency and retention. Once the apps are developed, the training is standardized. However, the experiences within the training are also highly personal, as each person can learn from their own mistakes and practice whatever they need to focus on. It has been proven that virtual reality training programs lead to higher knowledge retention levels. The University of Maryland studied this in regards to virtual reality learning and found above a 90% retention rate, which is far higher than most traditional training approaches. This was put into content by pixovr.com who summed up the findings in the statement: “At 90+ percent recall, VR training would score in the A-range, while desktop computer training, at a shade below 79 percent, would be stuck back in the C’s” This is because learning is more engaging, interactive, and literally ‘hands-on’. However, should a staff member start to forget or feel unsure about something, with augmented reality training available, it is easy for them to brush up on their skills without needing to interrupt other staff members. What’s more, training programs and ‘refreshers’ can easily be created and updated, allowing for the latest knowledge to be on hand and easily accessible. It can also be interactive, with staff from anywhere training with other staff members. This can be useful for collaboration or international business training programs. All of this helps to create a consistently educated and trained workforce, increasing confidence, and lowering stress levels. Gamification of training can even make it fun, more rewarding, and far less stressful than learning on a live assembly line. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-57.jpeg] INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY Another positive aspect of augmented reality training is that it isn’t limited to only being in the classroom. Augmented reality can be continued to be used on live systems, or ongoing with the correct headset. It can add information and ‘advice’ to real-world equipment, used in the development of processes, and for assisting with new scenarios. Augmented reality, for example, could be used to not only plan the layout of an entire automotive factory or assembly line but to also actually test that the designs work and see how effective it would be once operational. All of this, before needing to spend anything on materials or machinery. The advanced high-level cameras used can also assist with the production process, highlighting where something could go or even if there is a malformation in a part that has just been produced. Collaboration can be from anywhere in the world, allowing effective discussions, planning, and practicing implementation virtually by any employees, regardless of where they work in the world. As far as making announcements is concerned, it can be as effective as mobile messaging, except that the recipients do not need to stop what they are doing and everyone wearing a device will get the message. Even maintenance can be notified and lesser skilled or new employees guided through the process step-by-step virtually, ensuring machinery keeps running to optimum efficiency. From providing tips and info to highlighting dangerous defects, augmented reality can improve efficiency significantly in both training and the live workplace. In effect, training can be a continuous augmented reality assisted process. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-58.jpeg] WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF VIRTUAL REALITY OR AUGMENTED REALITY FOR TRAINING? To summarize the aspects listed above and more benefits of virtual technology in training, the key takeaways are: * Courses are not only standardized (instead of relying on different staff), they are also highly focussed and interactive * Augmented reality and virtual reality incorporates numerous learning approaches, making them compatible and attention-grabbing for most people * Learning is more fun than with only using books, especially when augmented reality tasks are gamified * Training is often faster and yet also more beneficial to trainees * Trainees feel more comfortable and more confident, as they can practice activities as many times as they need * Retention of materials learned is increased * For some jobs, this can even lead to muscle memory retention, allowing staff to work almost instinctively after training and without being on the assembly line prior * Training can be undertaken as an individual or with other staff locally or from any other locations * Training is safer for all * Performance is tracked and feedback can be provided remotely, whether virtually or written * Costs are reduced by allowing skilled staff to continue working while allowing new staff to fully train in a virtual manner * Costs are continually reducing as more developers move into the field and hardware prices continue to become more mainstream affordable * Easily accessible via any compatible device, often including augmented reality headsets and even compatible mobile phones * There is no need to wait for a disaster, or to shut down machinery when worst-case situations can be rehearsed virtually The possibilities of augmented reality training apps for the automotive assembly line are still unfolding. However, it is clear that this approach is effective and that it is likely to be adopted in many other sections, including outside of this sector.
Top 10 Most Loved Car Brands
September 25, 2020
Every year, the data analytics and consumer intelligence company J.D. Power conducts a study to determine the car brands that are the most appealing to consumers. To conduct the 2020 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, J.D. Power analyzed responses from nearly 90,000 owners of new 2020 model year vehicles in the U.S. The study is designed to measure how owners feel about their new vehicle using 37 different attributes. For example, owners were asked to evaluate the feeling they got when accelerating in their new vehicle and the sense of luxury they felt while behind the wheel. These scores were then added together to calculate a total APEAL index score that could range from 1 to 1000. The results of this study revealed that these automotive brands had the highest scores, which makes them the top 10 most loved car brands in 2020: [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-50.jpeg] HYUNDAI With 842 points, Hyundai came in at #10 on the list of the most loved car brands of 2020. This includes multiple brands under the Hyundai parent company, including Kia and Genesis. Hyundai may not have topped this list, but as a parent company, it did receive more awards than any other automotive manufacturer. This year, APEAL Awards were given to the Genesis G70, Hyundai Sonata, Hyundai Veloster, Kia Stinger, and Kia Telluride. HONDA Soichiro Honda founded Honda in 1949, and over 70 years later, it is still one of the most popular car brands in the United States. There are a number of reasons why consumers love Honda vehicles. The manufacturer has a reputation for producing high-quality, reliable vehicles, which is a quality that consumers will always appreciate. But reliability by itself isn’t enough to secure a spot on this list. Honda edged out the competition by upgrading its design with more sophisticated technology and higher-end materials. This might not be the only year that Honda lands a coveted spot on this list. Another study found that Honda has some of the most loyal consumers of all manufacturers in the automotive industry. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-51.jpeg] NISSAN With 844 points, Nissan tied with two other automotive manufacturers for the #8 spot on this list. This may come as a surprise to automotive industry insiders since the company has seen a decline in sales over the last several years. Similar to Hyundai, Nissan won a number of awards for the brands under its parent company, including the Nissan Armada, Nissan Maxima, Nissan Sentra, and Nissan Versa. Nissan earned a respectable position on the list for this year, but it may climb even higher in the years to come. This is because the manufacturer has announced plans to update the designs of many of their models over the next few years. If consumers respond well to these updates, the automotive manufacturer could soar to the top of next year’s list. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-52.jpeg] MAZDA Mazda’s three-way tie for 8th on this list may seem like a modest accomplishment, but it’s no small feat for this automotive manufacturer. Last year, Mazda was ranked nine spots lower on the list. But this year, consumers responded more positively to 2020 Mazdas, especially the Mazda 3, Mazda 5, and Mazda Miata. J.D. Power isn’t the only company that noticed the shift in consumers’ perception of this automotive brand. The U.S. News & World Report named Mazda the Best Car Brand for 2020. Mazda’s higher APEAL score could be attributed to its high safety score, which is a quality that consumers always look for when purchasing a new vehicle. But the updated interior design, which now includes an upgraded infotainment system, could also have lifted Mazda’s scores this year. KIA The final automotive manufacturer in the three-way tie for 8th place is Kia. Two Kia models, the Stinger and Telluride, helped its parent company, Hyundai, win a number of APEAL awards this year. But even though Kia falls under the Hyundai parent company, this automotive manufacturer has strong enough scores to rank on this list on its own. This year, consumers responded well to a number of different Kia models, including the Cadenza and Forte. Both of these Kia models are designed with stylish exteriors and luxurious interiors complete with UVO infotainment systems. Kia also offers one of the most consumer-friendly warranties in the automotive industry, which could be another reason why it ranked so high on this list. Kia may be tied for 8th place on this list, but it actually placed first in the Initial Quality Study, which is also conducted by J.D. Power. These scores indicate that Kia could continue to climb higher in the years ahead. MINI Scoring an impressive 846 points, Mini secured the #5 spot on this list of the car brands that consumers love the most. As its name suggests, this manufacturer initially offered consumers a smaller, luxurious vehicle with a unique look. But now, Mini models are not so mini anymore. The larger size may not make sense given the manufacturer’s name, but it does seem to be a hit with consumers, who appreciate the additional space offered in the newer models. Mini vehicles are also known for their reliability, speed, and stylish designs. These vehicles may have higher price points than others on the list, but this doesn’t seem to bother consumers, who may be willing to pay more in order to experience these unparalleled vehicles. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-53.jpeg] FORD Perhaps the most recognizable name on this list, Ford ranked #4 on the top 10 most loved car brands of 2020. Some industry experts may be surprised that Ford is not higher on this list, especially because the Ford F-150 consistently ranks as the most popular pick-up truck in the country. Ford may produce the most popular trucks on the market, but it also manufactures other types of vehicles. For example, the Ford Mustang is one of the most iconic sports cars of all time. The Mustang has been around for decades, but it continues to rank high on the list of the best sports cars year after year. The Ford Escape, a sports utility vehicle (SUV), is another popular vehicle produced by this manufacturer. In fact, the Escape even earned an APEAL award this year. Other Ford vehicles, including the mid-size Fusion and Fusion Hybrid, have not been as well-received by consumers. This could explain why Ford was unable to land the top spot on this list despite its successful line of pick-up trucks and SUVs. GMC General Motors Company, or GMC, was ranked #3 by consumers who responded to the J.D. Power 2020 APEAL study. A number of the GMC parent company’s vehicles won awards in this study, including the Cadillac CT6, Chevrolet Blazer, and GMC Sierra HD. These are some of the many GMC vehicles that appealed to a vast number of consumers this year. GMC may have ranked near the top on this list, but it did not fare so well in another J.D. Power study. It ranked #8 in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, which measures the number of problems that owners of new vehicles experience within the 90 days of ownership. Perhaps addressing these issues and improving the overall perceived quality of GMC vehicles could help GMC secure the top spot next year. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-54.jpeg] RAM The runner up on this year’s list is Ram, which scored 871 points in the 2020 APEAL study. Ram scored well in the Initial Quality Study as well, landing the #3 spot on that list. Unlike other manufacturers on the list, Ram solely produces trucks and vans. Despite their limited product line, consumers responded incredibly well to Ram vehicles, showing a deep emotional attachment with their newly purchased 2020 models. Scores were high for Ram vehicles across the board, but one model that scored high enough to earn an APEAL award was the Ram 1500, which is a full-sized pick-up truck with a luxurious interior. Ram’s high ranking may not come as a surprise to many since the company reported the highest sales growth among all automotive manufacturers in the first half of 2019. Studies have shown that Ram consumers are also very loyal. More than half of previous Ram owners who purchased a new vehicle in the last year chose to buy another Ram. Based on these statistics, it’s clear that most consumers are currently more than satisfied with their Ram vehicles. DODGE Dodge scored 872 points, which is enough to secure the top spot on the list of the 2020 car brands that consumers love the most. This isn’t the only top spot that Dodge secured this year—it was also the top-ranked manufacturer in J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study. This makes Dodge the first domestic automotive manufacturer to secure the top spots in the mass market segments in both lists during the same year. Many Dodge vehicles received positive ratings from consumers this year, but the Dodge Challenger, a muscle car, scored high enough to earn a model-level APEAL award. This vehicle is consistently ranked one of the top sports cars on the market due to its spacious, luxurious interior and powerful V8 engine options, some of which top out over 700 horsepower. Dodge’s reliability, safety, upgraded designs, and speed have helped the manufacturer beat out its competitors and win the top spot on this year’s list. Automotive manufacturers from around the world rely on the results of this study to help them make better business decisions and design vehicles that are more appealing to the modern consumer. For this reason, it is safe to say that these results could impact the way that new models of vehicles are designed and marketed to consumers in the year ahead.
Ford Designs New Car Entirely With Virtual Reality
September 23, 2020
As the industry approaches a 12-figure valuation, one auto manufacturer has taken their brand to the next level with virtual reality technology. Ford recently unveiled the image of a groundbreaking new race car, which was designed entirely using virtual reality. This 3D design method is providing auto brands with hyper-realistic detailing, improved tactile response, and enhanced blueprint imaging. Read on to learn how Ford has used virtual reality to revolutionize the design and prototyping phase of automobile production. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-48.jpeg] TECHNICIAN TRAINING AND SUPPORT Worker education and training was another aspect of the auto manufacturing process that was greatly impacted by the pandemic. Certain employees who depend on three-dimensional visual and tactile elements were able to continue operations, despite telecommuting demands. Using mobile-friendly VR headsets or 3D visual projections, workers were able to attend courses, seminars, and training sessions which incorporated realistic exercises with practical applications. Hands-on professionals can only apply so many skills with videos and images alone. Virtual reality programs make it possible to create cloud-based digital scenarios for virtually every step in the car manufacturing process. This is also another area where car brands can cut costs, since virtual reality renders replace the need for a physical vehicle model during the product ideation, design, and testing phases. SAFER MANUFACTURING DURING COVID-19 Like many other industries across the global workforce, COVID-19 had a significant impact on the automobile industry. Stringent distancing measures and regulations for commercial businesses put standard operations on halt for most car companies. Using virtual reality to design and produce cars allowed employees to effectively work remotely. By maintaining timelines for prototype development, marketing, and distribution, Ford is one of the companies that was able to thrive in spite of the market downturn. For example, Ford technicians used proprietary VR software to complete the Mustang Mach-E while working from home. This technology gave designers, engineers, and quality control specialists the ability to complete their work remotely, allowing offsite teams to reach production quotas and deadlines successfully. Virtual reality technology has also made strides for innovation and product development. By simplifying analysis and collaboration processes during the COVID-19 lockdown, Ford used virtual reality headsets for: * 3D modeling * Computer-aided designing * Digital sketching * Virtual environment generation Safety is paramount in a time like this, and community health parameters largely outweigh product demand and profitability across the global marketplace. Ford is one auto manufacturer that was able to simultaneously reduce physical contact and streamline the digital design process using virtual reality systems. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-49.jpeg] INCREASED LEVEL OF CONTROL DURING INITIAL DESIGN PHASE If there’s one thing that can tank the production of a great product, it’s poor communication. In order for something as intricate as a high-performance sports car to successfully reach the last stage of development, everyone involved needs to be on the same page every step of the way. Detailed 3D diagrams, secure cloud-based file sharing, and mobile-friendly syncing capabilities are making it easier than ever for remote workers to virtually design, test, and analyze new vehicles from any location. AR/VR-enabled mobile devices and interactive projections give each user the ability to move, rotate, magnify, or expand individual car parts from every angle of the interior, exterior, and frame. Virtual reality makes it easier for every worker to access information, graphics, and valuable updates regarding the project. The same technology simplifies internal communications by rendering every aspect of the vehicle in a completely digital, cloud-hosted environment. While this development made it easier for Ford to sustain operations during the pandemic, virtual reality tech will undoubtedly become a mainstay in the automotive industry. REDUCED COST AND TIME SPENT ON PROTOTYPE DEVELOPMENT When using physical prototypes and clay modeling to create a new vehicle, it can take weeks for just one model to come to fruition. Virtual reality allows technicians to complete the same steps digitally in a fraction of the time, reducing the production life cycle to just a few days. Requiring less time for the creation of each model allows internal and remote teams to allocate their time to other projections. Or, companies can cut a considerable chunk out of their budget by reducing spending on: * Staffing * Materials * Operationa * Leasing space * Research and development Using virtual reality instead of physical development techniques, auto companies can potentially cut the time they spend prior to product launch by more than 20 percent. Unsurprisingly, this can directly translate to a significant reduction in cost almost immediately following system adoption. As with any company, it’s in the best interest of every auto manufacturer to cut costs and maximize innovation anyway they can. This is especially true when considering the competitiveness of the auto market AND the economic strain of a global pandemic. Scalability and growth is paramount in the current sink or swim environment. FORD BREAKS BARRIERS IN PERFORMANCE AND INGENUITY This industry-changing event was broadcast live to viewers, giving consumers a first-hand look at the process. Ford chose to use a top-performing speed machine as an example, while also appealing to the alternative energy market with an all-electric fuel system. It’s no secret that Ford sought to make history by dropping the digitally built Mach-E on their growing audience. Innovators who were responsible for the construction and application of VR to production speed, accuracy, and advertising optimization have managed to disrupt the downward trajectory of an entire industry. Despite being in the midst of one of the most significant economic downturns in American history, Ford’s stocks have risen during the summer slump. This shift in the company’s growth potential shows that it’s still possible to grow and thrive in less-than-favorable commercial circumstances. FASTER LAUNCH TIME AND PRODUCTION By preventing the same pitfalls that caused other auto manufacturers to halt production during the pandemic, Ford was able to exceed industry expectionations by a landslide. While Ford does own a dedicated VR lab for testing and product development, they’ve successfully moved similar technology offsite. Now, workers can view digital models virtually from their mobile phone, tablet, or desktop computer at home. Improving the seamlessness of the early stages in the product development process gave Ford the ability to reduce costs and save time sooner than previous methods allowed. This gave them the support they needed to build a brand new unit collaboratively without the use of a physical manufacturing location. One of the primary inhibitors to corporate profits during the COVID-19 lockdown was the brand’s inability to produce or distribute their products. Showrooms closed, workers were sent home, and production stopped for many brands as they tried to navigate regulations that changed by the hour. Using virtual reality to bridge these gaps, Ford continued to test, assess, and work out bugs that were found in an entirely digital environment. As a result of these simplifications throughout the critical beginning stages of production, this auto manufacturer made history and was able to release their newest high-performance race car in record time. STREAMLINED SHOPPING EXPERIENCE AND ENHANCED MARKETING Although virtual reality was used primarily during the first phases of the car’s production, VR also improved Ford’s marketing efforts in a few different ways. From creating an immersive virtual showroom shopping experience to allowing consumers to tour their prospective purchase from home, VR is making the automotive industry more accessible for everyone. As a result of the ongoing health crisis, consumers are becoming accustomed to shopping online for everything from groceries to homes to – you guessed it – automobiles. This trend is expected to outlast the pandemic, which will change the way we all interact with consumer products. Virtual reality is giving every level of consumer a birds-eye view of their new investment, which gives the buyer more independence during their search. Having more customization and control over their purchase gives casual and committed shoppers a much higher level of overall satisfaction regarding the transaction. By reducing their consumer bounce rate, Ford used virtual reality to turn an exciting new product into a tool for improved client retention and brand recognition. The application of this technology throughout the rest of the process has allowed car brands like Ford to apply their efforts vertically into areas like: * Eco-friendly technology * Alternative fuel methods * Sustainable manufacturing * Increased automation With their compatible at-home VR program, Ford maintained a surprisingly high level of productivity and growth during an incredibly difficult time. This leading car company has made headlines with their all-electric muscle car, but other brands are following close behind. Cross-functional trailblazers like Bosch and Amazon have shown why virtual reality is a practical investment for nearly every sphere. By virtually designing an entire vehicle from conception through completion, Ford has changed the way companies and consumers will produce and distribute products. If we learned anything from the buzz around the Mach-E, it’s that virtual reality is here to stay.
What is the Future of Augmented Reality in the Auto Industry?
September 21, 2020
While Tesla has been dominating the headlines when it comes to technological advancement, many mass market brands are integrating augmented reality into the creation, sale, and functionality of their vehicles. Augmented reality is making it easier, safer, and more enjoyable to go for a drive. Read on to learn how auto manufacturers, dealers, and drivers are utilizing augmented reality in the automobile industry. PROTOTYPING AND DEVELOPMENT From the ideation stage to preliminary testing, car companies are using augmented reality to fine tune new vehicles before they hit the market. This is largely made possible with enhanced imaging software, dynamic projection technology, and improved remote control cabilitties. Traditionally, vehicles have had to undergo extensive physical trials to ensure that they meet all of the necessary qualifications to move on to the next stage. Augmented reality allows technicians to test critical functions and capabilities without the need for a physical vehicle. By creating a responsive and realistic virtual environment, testers are able to create real-world scenarios without a physical course or trial vehicle. Not only does this smooth over critical logistics and technical checkpoints, but designers and manufacturers will collectively have more time and manpower for creative development and innovation. Remote and onsite workers can use AR planning and blueprinting to better allocate production equipment and layout instructions. Augmented reality can incorporate AI computing to automate repetitive and tedious tasks. This is another feature that can reduce staffing and equipment costs. Improving time management by removing unnecessary steps from the production timeline is especially critical during the ideation phase of the product development process. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-45.jpeg] TESTING AND PRE-PRODUCTION Traditionally, car manufacturers have conducted multiple phases of ideation, analysis, and prototype testing. Now, they’re able to recreate all of these steps digitally using virtual simulations and interactive design technology. By using augmented reality to build responsive virtual testing environments, car companies can reduce spending on physical models, staffing, operational costs, and more. This also allows for a wider sample margin, providing more room innovation and development. Augmented reality also helps corporate planners build an infrastructure that meets all of their production needs. By simulating workspaces that support the necessary material flows and production processes, this method allows automotive brands to make the most out of every dollar spent on operational costs. Using augmented reality simulations to create hypothetical (but realistic) scenarios, auto manufacturers can save even more money with airtight cost calculations based on space, work capacity, adn staffing requirements. Even better, the application of AR gives remote teams the same level of access and hands-on influence as in-office workers. Now, telecommuters can see every step of the production process using hyper-realistic projections, dynamic-response simulations, and seamless interconnectivity with the user’s own mobile devices. MANUFACTURING AND SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT Augmented reality is also becoming a critical component of the sourcing and mass manufacturing process for niche and mainstream automotive brands. Workers throughout the supply chain are improving the way they interact with each unit with enhanced training, quality assurance, and damage control. Augmented reality makes it possible for technicians to learn about every detail of the car using interactive projections and virtual use scenarios that factor in dynamic elements like movement, speed, and even terrain type. Rather than physically looking under the hood, it’s possible to use augmented reality programs to assess a virtual render of the car and all of its individual parts. By improving accuracy and consistency throughout the supply chain, car manufacturers and suppliers can save money on materials, waste, and errors. Augmented reality programs can give technicians the ability to view each and every part of the car on a hyper-granular level. The more each specialist is able to learn about what the exact model they’re working on, the better their production success rate will be in the long run. DRIVER SAFETY Airlines have used AR for years to safely create digital testing scenarios and realistic testing programs. But, did you know auto manufacturers are also using the same technology to improve safety through the manufacturing, testing, and consumer driving process. Augmented reality technology is already being used by car brands like: * Mercedes-Bez * MINI * Toyota * Volvo * BMW * Chevrolet * Jaguar * Lexus * Mazda Instead of focusing on the car’s instrument panels or an external device, driver’s can use augmented reality to consume information without taking their eyes off the road. When it comes to proximity guides and rear-view cameras, augmented reality prepares the user for virtually every driving scenario. AR adds to the realism and provides a higher level of clarity and visibility for the driver with detailed, easy-to-view alerts and boundary guidelines. Augmented reality systems also make it easier to access in-car infotainment, which is especially helpful during long drives. Auxiliary benefits, including parking assistance and enhanced blindspot sensors, adds even more protection. If you’re heading out of state or down the street, you can rest assured that you’ll have a strong digital support system during the entire ride. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-46.jpeg] ENHANCED ENTERTAINMENT What if you could have an entire library of music and interactive entertainment options at your fingertips, while you’re behind the wheel? Whether you have a co-pilot or are driving solo, using augmented reality to improve in-vehicle entertainment will make the trip easier and more enjoyable for everyone in the car. Using AR-based navigation improves driver safety by projecting transparent visual elements over the driver’s standard view. Similarly, this is the safest way to switch radio stations, choose audio books, and more without causing a cumbersome distraction. Augmented reality providers use bluetooth, Android, Apple, and Microsoft technology to allow the vehicle to sync with the user’s mobile device. Cloud storage and file sharing capabilities add an extra layer of accessibility and cyber security by allowing all of the car’s digital aspects to communicate seamlessly without any external equipment. Families with children can take advantage of segmented entertainment options that allow everyone to control their own media. Plus, you don’t have to deal with the stress of arguing over the music (or movies) until a consensus is reached. Whether you’re planning on taking a 12-hour road trip or you just want to improve your daily commute, augmented reality can provide you with a safe and simplified immersive experience every time you turn your keys. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-47.jpeg] OVERALL INDUSTRY GROWTH Experts expect the augmented/virtual reality industries to reach a value of about $673 billion by the year 2025. Within the automotive industry, AR/VR are already established as a market staple for new cars hitting the market. By reducing the amount of time drivers spend taking their eyes off the road, augmented reality technology is already making vehicles safer for everyone on the road. Additionally, improving testing and reporting metrics as a result of reduced human error and manual production methods is making the manufacturing process cheaper and more efficient. With more than 1 billion users expected to hit the market this year, augmented reality is quickly gaining traction across many industries. The automotive industry is pioneering this technology in a big way, and more drivers will be taking advantage of this revolutionary tool. This system is also improving many existing standard automotive fixtures. This has led to the ideation of various smart accessories, like an AR-enhanced rear view mirror that can detect a blind-spot threat and project a video feed of it in the rearview mirror in real time. Another groundbreaking development is a system of mirror-imbedded cameras that can compile an unobstructed panoramic image of everything that’s behind the vehicle. While back-up cameras give some level of visibility, augmented reality removes more safety and security threats than any other system of imaging technology up to this point. FUTURE OF AUGMENTED REALITY IN AUTOMOTIVE Automotive and tech experts predict AR technology to become even more seamless and accessible in the near future. As smart wearables move to replace phones and portable devices, the automotive industry will keep creating interconnected systems to improve the driving experience for everyone on and off the road. Augmented reality will also likely revamp hands-free and voice-controlled applications and programs. Increasing the ease-of-use and overall functionality of voice-enabled systems is another way augmented reality is making land travel safer. If you’re shopping around for your next vehicle, consider opting for a car with an integrated augmented reality system for improved safety, performance, data security, and entertainment. For dealers and sellers, be sure to highlight any applicable capabilities in regard to AR, VR, and AI to maximize your marketing efforts and attract a wider consumer base. When it comes to the future of augmented reality in the automobile industry, we’ll be keeping an eye on this dynamic and ever-expanding market.
The History of the Dodge Charger
September 18, 2020
Many that hear the name Dodge Charger, instantly think about the early year classics or the latest muscle car from the series. The Charger has been around since 1966 in various forms. Not all models were a success, and some couldn’t really be described as a “classic” muscle car. However, they have certainly put out a few models that captured hearts and imaginations, locking them in as a great American classic. As of now, they are back on track with popular models such as the Hellcat Redeye. The public expects brute force and a look to back it with the Dodge Charger, and currently, that is exactly what is being delivered. So, let’s take a look at how this American powerhouse of a car got to where it is today. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-37.jpeg] 1966–1967 FIRST GEN DODGE CHARGER This was a high competition era for the early Dodge Chargers. They were up against cars like the GTO and Chevelle. In order to get the brand out there, they needed to deliver both in style and in power to make this car catch on. This was a 2-door fastback. The styling was sleek, wide, and low. It had reasonably aggressive flaring and indents, but also seemed to be slightly an understated muscle car for what was hiding under the hood. The roof curves down towards the back, giving it a mildly sporty look. Depending on their budget, buyers could opt from an impressive range of V8 engines. Now, when you look at this list, consider that this power is from a 1966 car. Many cars on the market today are struggling to hit these figures: * 5.2-liter V-8 * 5.9-liter V-8 * 6.3-liter V-8 * 7.0-liter Hemi V-8 Engines ranged from 230 horsepower, up to over 400 horsepower in the early gen models. All of these came with plenty of torque too, with the Hemi churning out a massive 490 lb-ft of torque. These were then coupled up to a 3-4 speed manual, or 3-speed automatic transmission. Inside the 1966 Dodge Charger passengers were greeted with four separate bucket seats. A center console ran right through the interior of the car. However, surprisingly considering its popularity today, sales of the first-generation Dodge Charger weren’t all that high. This was, however, fixed when the second generation launched in 1968. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-38.jpeg] 1968–1970 SECOND GEN DODGE CHARGER This model not only captured those of the era but the hearts of fans for decades after. This model was intended to make an impact and that grille makes sure it does. The look was so distinct that it became a featured car in movies of the era. One of its most renowned appearances was in General Lee and The Dukes of Hazzard. The full-width grille on what is already a wide body gives it an aggressive look. That’s then added to further by the wide body, which is low riding, and a curved roof that slopes off into the thin rear. Even the rear lights were rounded, for more individual styling. One of the main reasons this car has such an aggressive look is at first it appears not to have any headlights. The headlights are actually sunk back and almost hidden beneath the grille itself. They blend with the bodywork perfectly and give the car a unique look. In 1969 the Charger 500 was born to NASCAR, with a Dodge Coronet grille added for better traction and fitted with the high-end V8s. This was also followed by the Charger Daytona, with a more aerodynamic that totally did away with the flat front grille design. This model literally curved into a sharp line at the front, intending to cut through the air like a knife. Both cars were highly successful, to the point they ended up being restricted and eventually banned from racing. They were ahead of their time for power and performance on the track. Of course, it was not only styling, but there was some serious work put in under the hood. The engines available at the time included: * 3.7-liter Straight-6 * 7.0-liter Hemi V-8 * 7.2-liter Magnum V-8 This time, these were coupled to a 3-4 speed manual transmission or two options for 3-speed automatic transmissions. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-39.jpeg] 1971–1974 THIRD GEN DODGE CHARGER This model changed the grille once again, this time offering a divided grille. The split effect was provided with a large chrome surround that came down through the middle, almost creating a twin grille effect. The lights were also moved into the grille area, with twin round headlamps on both sides of the split grille. While a more traditional placement for headlamps, the split grille and two lamps in each section still maintain a uniquely aggressive styling. It was a sportier brother to the Dodge Coronet sedan range, actually borrowing that split grille and twin lamp design. Sales of this model were a success, partly because of the popularity, and partly because it ended up replacing the Dodge Coronet. Of course, the roof still sloped towards the rear of the car, with both the base and upper trunk curving towards that distinctive rear flaring, set with round brake lamps. Engines available included: * 3.7-liter Straight-6 * 5.2-liter V-8 * 6.3-liter V-8 * 7.2-liter Magnum V-8 There were also sport variations provided to the public. Due to the success of this car on the track, they were a popular model to get. These included the Charger Super Bee, Charger R/T, and Charger 500. Sadly, this was the last time we would see this style of Charger from Dodge. Things take a dramatic turn, and many would say it was not for the better. However, keep reading, as Dodge does pull things back around as we move towards the present. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-40.jpeg] 1975–1978 FOURTH GEN DODGE CHARGER Dodge took a new direction for this series, aiming to fulfill the luxury car market, rather than the muscle car and racing style it became famous for. The appearance was heavily adjusted to a style that resembled more of a 2-door luxury sedan. Or, as said of the era, it was a personal luxury coupe. The roof was often a fake convertible roof, often referred to as a Landau roof. Strangely, this is where a fixed roof (solid metal, the same as a normal car) has cosmetic coverings and attachments to make it look like it is a convertible car. These would often be covered in materials such as leather or cloth to add to the appearance of it being convertible – despite it not being even semi-convertible. The car itself had a bulkier and heavier look. The styling was less streamlined and more of a family car look. The grille was now a small central grille, although the twin headlamps remained either side of the grille. Above that, the hood was set with a hood ornament. Engine-wise, there were: * 5.2 Straight 6 * 5.9 Straight 6 * 6.6-liter V-8 These were connected to a 3-4 speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission. The luxury cars produced by Dodge of this era were a success for a while but went out of production by 1978. The charger had changed, it was currently no longer about raw American power, but comfort and class. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-41.jpeg] 1982–1987 FIFTH GEN DODGE CHARGER This generation also saw another impressively dramatic switch in design, now seemingly aiming for the economy car market. The Charger returned as an attempt at producing a subcompact hatchback coupe. The car was also front-wheel drive, something that is often not popular with muscle car enthusiasts. This fifth-gen Charger’s engines included: * 1.7-liter * 1.6-liter * 2.2-liter These engines, unlike previous years, put out less than 150 horsepower, even on the later sports models and with lower-end engines producing about half of that power. To put that in comparison, most initial first-gen Chargers had from 230 to over 400 horsepower (as rated at the time of production) V8 engines. The Dodge Shelby Charger trim was fitted with the larger engine and some sportier trims and additions. If you recognized the name, this was a Carroll Shelby-tuned version of the Charger. This was upgraded further with turbocharged power of 174 horsepower, a significant improvement on the earlier offerings. Shelby later upgraded this slightly more in the final Dodge Shelby Charger GLHS. However, this model put the Charger back out of production again in 1987, leaving a significant time gap before the Charger would be seen again in 2006. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-42.jpeg] 2006–2010 SIXTH GEN DODGE CHARGER A relaunch that was worthy of the original Chargers, their reputation, and looks being restored. Now produced as a four-door, this model brought back a lot of the muscle car styling that most want from a Dodge Charger. It also restores rear-wheel drive and an aggressive cross split grille. Hood flares and skirting only add to the sporty look. While it is clearly designed to be workable as an everyday car or family car even, it has a much meaner look than had been seen from the charger since 1974. The sloping roof is also back, although this time curving down into a deeper and beefier looking truck. The entire design is of a powerful and yet very solid sedan muscle car. An unusual blend, but one that seems to work. Unlike the previous attempt at a Charger come back in 1982, this version has some powerful engine choices: * 2.7-liter V-6 * 3.5-liter V-6 * 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 * 6.1-liter Hemi V-8 This series had a lot more options too, including AWD. The power outputs were also more similar to those of the earlier powerhouse years, churning out about 180-370 horsepower, depending on the year and options. All engines were connected to a 4-5 speed automatic transmission. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-43.jpeg] 2011–PRESENT SEVENTH GEN DODGE CHARGER Finally, the Dodge Charger seems to be settling on a style that works, at least for the present. They have returned to their roots, providing an aggressive muscle car, albeit with more comforts and styling inside. The flared wide-body styling is back, along with the famously feature grilles. It is also now available with not only engines that match the initial Gen 1-3 power levels but even exceed them in some editions. The main available engine setups are: * 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 * 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 * 6.2-liter Hellcat V-8 * 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 Earlier models were connected with the same 5-speed automatic transmission of the last release. However, most have a smoother and quicker eight-speed automatic. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-44.jpeg] From 2015 customers also got meaner offerings, including a 6.2-liter V-8 Hellcat with 707 horsepower and the 2021 Dodge Charger has a Hellcat Redeye setup, with 797 horsepower. The new Dodge Charger might be more practical as a daily car, but it certainly hasn’t let go of being a true muscle car and it seems things are only likely to continue in this direction for the Charger.