Chrysler is launching a program one typically associates with either very high-end cars, custom-production programs for vehicles like Corvette, niche vehicles with a certain cachet like Mini, or brands with a very passionate and particular owner base.
The Auburn Hills, Mich.-based automaker has a new system that lets people who have just bought a Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge or Ram vehicle track the production progress from start to delivery.
The program, officially called Vehicle Order Tracking System (VOTS), is at each of the brand sites with a /vots at the end of the URL (e.g., www.Jeep.com/vots).
The opt-in program is done at purchase: the customer gives their email address, and full name. The new buyer then gets assigned a VIN for the vehicle, which Chrysler emails. Chrysler says the incipient owner gets three emails: an order confirmation, a notice of production schedule for that vehicle with a link to the VOTS site, and then the VIN.
Chrysler says people have to use the final eight digits of the VIN, plus their full name they supplied it at the dealership. The automaker says it breaks the production schedule into eight phases, each of which the customer can examine virtually to see where things stand.
The first two of the eight are the confirmation and production schedule, news of which they get soon after purchase. After that the customer can check on the vehicle's progress through the frame, paint", trim, final inspection, shipment and delivery phases.
Chrysler is not the first automaker to create such a program, but it is the first to do so across all lines and vehicles. General Motors has a well known program for those who buy the Corvette that allows them a sense of individual participation in the manufacture of their car, in some cases letting owners help build the engine of their higher-end variants.
BMW earlier this year launched a program in which buyers of the BMW X3 could actually watch their vehicle being manufactured via an online video portal set up at BMW's plant in Spartanburg, S.C., where the X3 is assembled.