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Autonomous Vehicle Discussions Headline First Connected CARS

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DETROIT, May 18, 2017—In front of 108 registered attendees at the Detroit Metro Airport Marriott, Dave Hobbs summed up the overall message of Thursday’s Automotive Service Association’s inaugural Connected CARS training event with one simple sentence.

“We are all vehicle educators to the people who come in our repair shop,” Hobbs, a Delphi training instructor, told the crowd of mostly auto service center operators.

Hobbs’ animated presentation about advanced vehicle radar, lidar, sonar and camera-based sensors wrapped an afternoon of commentary on some of the automotive industry’s most progressive in-vehicle technologies—namely, autonomous vehicles and the computer systems that provide their functionality

As Hobbs was clear to point out numerous times, the issue surrounding the technology stems from misunderstanding and a lack of education. The average consumer is unaware of the functionality and both why and how issues occur. It’s up to shop operators and technicians to educate themselves—and in the end educate the vehicle owner.

“That’s our role,” Hobbs said.

And that was the reason dozens of repair professionals gathered in Detroit for this event. Event director Donny Seyfer, operator of Seyfer Automotive in Wheat Ridge, Colo., and a former ASA chairman, has helped push ASA to reinvent the former Congress of Automotive Repair and Service (CARS), an event that, held in conjunction with the International Autobody Congress & Exposition (NACE), had fallen off in attendance and relevance in recent years. Seyfer and ASA mechanical division director Bob Wills put together a two-event program (one this week in Detroit, and the second in conjunction with November’s AAPEX 2017 in Las Vegas) that focuses on vehicle technology and what shops and technicians will need to do to adapt.

Connected CARS was broken into two days of education with technician training taking place on Friday.  

Thursday’s lineup included a panel discussion that Seyfer moderated between Greg Potter, manager of the Equipment and Tool Institute (ETI), and OBD specialist Bob Gruszcynski of Volkswagen Group of America, who discussed the future of scan tools.

Seyfer also spoke with Mohan Sethi of MAHLE about cybersecurity threats for shops, and ASA’s Washington, D.C., representative Bob Redding interviewed Debby Bezzina, the senior program manager for the Ann Arbor Connected Vehicle Test Environment at UMTRI.

In speaking with Ratchet+Wrench, Seyfer said Connected CARS is an event the industry needs—it’s information that is crucial to the independent repair shop’s viability to properly service customer vehicles in the years to come.

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