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How to Drive Digital and Social Cars

In the cutthroat car market, auto makers are using technology heavily to pull off brand differentiation and win consumer loyalty.

On one hand, they are using digital tools to communicate with the buyers; on the other, they’ve deployed high-end tech gear to streamline their manufacturing processes.

Besides using the web and backend tech infrastructure, top automakers are using mobile technologies as well as tech-based in-car systems to achieve innovation for their vehicles. Here are some of the top examples of tech applications in the car market.

Social Technology

Thanks to the growing popularity of social networks, which claim to have over one billion users across the world, car companies are looking for potential buyers among these users.

Mercedes-Benz, for example, invited fashion enthusiasts to explore their personal style through a social platform that allowed the creation of virtual “sets.” The Star Style Challenge platform with imagery of inspirational fashions and Mercedes-Benz cars allowed fashion enthusiasts to build “sets,” like virtual mood boards.

And Nissan is aggressively using Facebook not only to deliver its brand messages, but also to engage consumers in its manufacturing processes.

It crossed half million Likes on the brand’s Facebook page. The growth, predominantly organic, took a jump with the all-new Pathfinder Concept revealed on the Facebook page in a series of videos during the North American International Auto Show.

Nissan also launched a social media-directed Nissan 370Z build-up called “Project 370Z.” The project aimed to utilize the knowledge of Nissan Z fans to help direct the creation of Nissan 370Z. It invited fans on Facebook to vote on potential modifications and follow along with the progress online.

Along with public social networks, companies are also using dedicated social platforms to communicate with their stakeholders. Toyota’s initiative ‘Toyota Friend’ deployed Salesforce Chatter, a private social network used by businesses, for Toyota’s electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles rolling out this year, 2012.

Digital Campaigns

While many social media initiatives are passive in nature, companies are also launching proactive campaigns to attract consumer eyeballs along with their active interaction with the brand.

To achieve more consumer engagement, Subaru of America launched its First Car Story campaign supporting the all-new 2012 Subaru Impreza. The campaign hub features an animation generator that allows users to recreate their first car, tell their story, and see it turned into an animated video, which they can also set to music and narrate with their own voice.

A new Nissan campaign aims to reach one million potential electric vehicle (EV) advocates in France, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, through a combination of myth-busting achievements and direct interaction via a massive digital and social movement.

Another digital campaign from Toyota “The Game of Life with Prius c” demonstrates key vehicle attributes in a fun and approachable way that aims to appeal to first-time car buyers looking for a fuel-efficient and tech-savvy solution to their transportation needs.

Mobile Technology

Mobile, of late, has become an integral part of any marketing effort. Mobile technology is being used in different ways by companies to keep a regular touch with buyers.

Using mobile solutions, shoppers can see, read and even hear the inside story about vehicles on display, whenever it suits their schedules.

The technology of mobile tags and smartphone tag readers promises rich content and interactive functionality for a personalized shopping experience.

Leveraging this technology, leading automaker Porsche introduced a new way to inform its consumers. Each scan of a mobile tag-equipped Porsche automatically opens a micro website utilizing the phone’s built in web browser and features specific product information to the exact car being browsed, including vehicle videos, leading press reviews and even the unique sound of the Porsche model’s engine.

Earlier, Mercedes-Benz Financial distributed the 3G version of the Apple iPad to the entire Mercedes-Benz U.S. dealer network. It gives the dealers instant mobile access to its proprietary dealer point-of-sale system called MB Advantage.

Going a step further in mobile tech adoption, Nissan said it is the first Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to offer Quick Response (QR) codes on individual vehicle window stickers across its entire lineup, beginning with 2012 models.

Rolled out with the launch of the 2012 Nissan Altima and Sentra, the QR codes link consumers to additional vehicle information, providing a free, enhanced interactive shopping experience via the web-enabled iPhone, Android and BlackBerry devices.

High-end Systems

Besides using frontend tools and technologies to interact with the consumers, top car manufactures are using high-end platforms to streamline their production processes.

For example, Audi reveals that its future e-tron models will cover long distances powered by practically silent electric motors. To ensure that pedestrians in urban settings will hear them, the brand has developed a synthetic solution: Audi e-sound.

Software company Autodesk said that Volvo Car Corporation used Autodesk design and visualisation software to design the Concept You car.

Using Autodesk Alias software, the concept modelling team was able to quickly create digital prototypes from the designer’s initial sketches. This enabled the team to quickly hone and test the design on screen, helping to save time and maintain the original design integrity behind the concept.

Similarly, tech major IBM revealed that its software and simulation tools helped General Motors (GM) engineers design and develop the software in the advanced control systems on the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, which was designed and engineered in just 29 months.

Automaker Lexus is working on an idea of a future car that will never have an accident. The company is using an advanced driving simulator to enable its engineers to design technology that will help make driving safer.

Surprisingly, web major Google is also entering cars. The Infiniti JX features collision sensors that automatically engage the brake if another vehicle is detected when the JX is in reverse, as well as four external cameras that provide a 360-degree view of the surroundings. There is also the ability to synch appointments from Google Calendar into the navigation system.

Hyundai is also among the leading tech users. Its Blue Link telematics platform offers connectivity, convenience and safety services for Hyundai vehicles. Blue Link’s features continue with remote vehicle start, which allows a driver to heat or cool the car before driving; geofence, which can send a text if a driver has ventured outside prescribed borders or time constraints; and stolen vehicle slowdown to help police recover a stolen vehicle.

With all these tech-led innovations, car companies are introducing new models for the convenience of the consumers. And it appears that a unique convergence between technology and cars is already happening.

Read More Raman Media Network (RMN) Reports on Global Tech Trends

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