The Auburn Hills, Mich. automaker and its aftermarket division, Mopar, are introducing a suite of free apps for smartphones that cover everything from vehicle owner info to aftermarket-customization product catalogues from Mopar.
"We are taking owner information and customer care to a new level," said Pietro Gorlier, president and CEO of Mopar, in a webcast. He said the program is an industry first. "We are creating a channel of communication with customers about brands, vehicles and customer care."
The apps have product-feature video demonstrations, connections with other owners, and access to customer care and 24-hour roadside assistance, among a host of other functions, per the company.
The product, via Michigan-based Tweddle Group, is launching in tandem with the new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and will be available at the iStore on June 19 first for iPhone and later for BlackBerry and Android on AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint. The automaker says the apps will be expanded to other Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep and Ram Truck vehicles in the U.S. by the end of this year.
The apps are intended to complement physical user guides and DVDs that come with content one would expect from an owner's manual, including maintenance schedules, service contract details, warning-light interpretation, warranty information and customer assistance. But Gorlier said they include an on-demand channel for two-way communication on brands, vehicles, and customer service, plus Mopar parts and accessories, product brand gear and merchandise and social media sites.
The main screen of the app has 10 functional categories starting with "vehicle highlights" and ending with "customer assistance." The app also has a section for -- in the case of the app for Grand Cherokee -- buying Jeep-branded accessories, apparel and gear, and a section that connects the user to Jeep communities on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Jeep's blog.
Jim Ford, head of technical service development, said that the free app, available at iStore, is also intended as a sales tool, as it is available to anyone, not just owners. "It's for anyone who might be interested in a Grand Cherokee and might want to learn a little more about it and its features," he said.
Gorlier said the app can be played on iPad. "However, similar to all other apps, imagery from apps cannot be fully optimized on the iPad." He said he did not expect the app to slow traffic to dealerships. "We think it will enhance the traffic, giving the customer the opportunity to learn about the vehicle on their smartphone first and then visit the dealership to experience the vehicle."