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system achieves an integrated aesthetic.”

What I Want From Automakers: Technology is changing every day. It affects the driving ex- perience, the way we listen to music and entertain ourselves, and the very way that we interact with each other. The devices that we are using today will not be the devices that we are using tomorrow. Vehicle manufacturers may be able to offer the latest technology in a new vehicle purchase, but that technology may very well be obsolete before the car is even

paid for, and it is now an integral part of the car’s electrical and communications networks. One possible solution is to make the vehicle more of an open platform. Offer the buyer has choices in colors, trims, engine size, etc., but leaves the “infotainment” options as some- thing that can be added during or after the sale, either by the dealership or by a network of qualified systems integrators. If the carmaker wasn’t exhausting resources trying to make sure that their new cars included the tech “flavor of the day,” they could focus more on design, performance, fuel economy, safety and reliability.”

STEVE LEDFORD, AREA 41 CUSTOMS, KENNESAW, GA. 19 years in the industry

I deliver: “A total vehicle entertainment experience to my customer with products that allow them to use their OEM features outside of the factory limits. We seem to be in an area where people are content with their factory systems, but there is that one thing they wish it did such as allowing navigation input while in motion, or passenger viewing of DVD video. Feature

unlock module sales and installation is a growing area for us.”

My skill: “I have a broad range of skills but after years of commission install gigs, I have become proficient at what I call production custom. This includes things like replacing USB ports in factory locations or flushing in information display units or control modules with a clean fit and finish in an in-and-out install without hours of fabrication and finishing work.”

What I want From Automakers: “If I could have a discussion with automotive engineers, I would work toward an easier design base for radio integration and replacement. While the OEM has gotten better at cosmetic integration and providing new features, those systems will become outdated or fail after a period of time. The vehicle manufacturer is not going to offer updated solutions for a 6-year-old car, so what would it hurt to make the system cost effective for a second or third owner to replace? In my experience it may help them in the customer’s eyes. After consulting with some customers that own vehicles such as Infiniti or certain BMW vehicles for example, I have seen customers opt to dump that brand of vehicle completely over an obsolete, failed audio component or source unit that is too costly to replace and does not allow for a non-factory replacement. Vehicles seem to last longer now and people in our area seem to be holding on to their vehicles longer. I see surg- es of large investments in vehicle upgrades for the 2004-2007 model range. People love their cars, they are mechanically sound, they are paid for and they see it as “I could go buy another car and have a $600 per month payment and gain nothing except new electronics technology, or spend a little money one time upgrading what I already have and save the payment.” 31 C M Y CM MY CY CMY K

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