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These aren’t your grandfather’s automobiles

Dealerships adjust to teaching consumers advancing technologies

Published: Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Sarah Nader –
Tom Templeton, community relations manager and technology consultant at Ray Chevrolet in Fox Lake, demonstrates how to use technology in a new car. Ray Chevrolet recently added the RayTech team to explain car tech to drivers and help them sync devices and get the most out of their high-tech vehicles.
(Submitted photo)
Car owners attend a clinic Tuesday at Ray Chevrolet in Fox Lake to introduce customers to the service department and give them a rundown of the common technological features in their cars.
(Sarah Nader –
Ray Chevrolet has started the RayTech Team to explain car technology to drivers. Templeton has been hosting clinics for new owners to teach the technology in their cars.

Nearly a decade ago, car salesmen were trying to sell buyers on the latest car technologies such as built-in DVD systems, CD players and, in some cases, the optional cassette player.

Now, the newest models on any dealer’s lot feature electronic gizmos such as wireless Bluetooth, voice recognition, touch navigation screens and the ability to stream a driver’s music collection or favorite Pandora stations through the car speakers.

Rapid technological development during the past decade has brought the most advanced technologies to mainstream automobiles since Ford introduced the Model T in the early 1900s.

“The technology is so advanced,” said J.R. Arnold, service director at Gary Lang Auto Group in McHenry. “Some people don’t even want to use the features because they aren’t used to it.”

Dealerships throughout McHenry County are changing services and fielding more questions to help consumers understand the vast technological features that now come standard in most cars.

Gary Lang offers certain Cadillacs that come with a free iPad, from which drivers can stream music and control the temperature inside the car.

The majority of models on Gary Lang’s lot come with Bluetooth, allowing drivers to sync their phone wirelessly through the car speakers.

But the added gadgets have created more questions, particularly with older generations unsure on the proper ways to access and use such features, Arnold said.


Like other dealerships, Gary Lang employees will demonstrate the technology to the buyer after the completion of a sale. Any buyer is welcomed back, if they have additional questions, Arnold said.

Employees at Ray Chevrolet in Fox Lake recently started the RayTech Team, a small group of staffers exclusively devoted to explaining and demonstrating car technology features.

The dealership also hosts regular how-to clinics on topics, such as streaming music or downloading in-car applications, for clients to better understand the features, said Tom Templeton, community relations manager and RayTech Team leader.

“Customers didn’t necessarily have a direct resource to be educated on, other than reading the manual,” he said. “We wanted to put a face on that education and be proactive. We want to make sure everyone, regardless of age, understands what they are buying.”

The technology features in newer cars also aren’t strictly made for entertainment. Most models at M’Lady Nissan in Crystal Lake feature detection systems that can alert drivers of objects in their blind spot or when nearby cars change lanes.

The entertainment and safety features are so widespread that employees at M’Lady are answering more technology questions from customers, said sales manager Erica Collins, whose department offers demonstrations and walk-in visits for customers.

“More people are using technology in their vehicles now than before ... Manufactures follow how people purchase, and technology is becoming standard in most vehicles,” Collins said. “I don’t think it’s going anywhere.”

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