Fiat-Chrysler Is Introducing a Cool New Tech Feature

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat 8.4 inch U-Connect Performance Pages Home screen
Source: Fiat-Chrysler

Many vehicle owners understand the frustration of having to look up maintenance information in the owner’s manual that comes with the vehicle from the factory. Over the years, as we develop our relationships with our cars, factory-supplied gear such as the jack and the owner’s manual gets shifted around. The glove compartment can get stuffed with registrations, insurance documents and other paperwork, as well as all kinds of other stuff, and the manual can get jammed into the back of the compartment — or taken out and lost.

Even when it’s there, that few minutes of wrangling it out of the glove box can seem a little bit of a chore. There’s also the issue of updates — if you bought a 2001 vehicle, you’re looking at a paper manual that was printed in 2001.

Now, there’s a new high-tech solution for owners of a new Dodge Charger, Challenger, or a Chrysler 300.

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat 8.4 inch U-Connect Performance Pages Home screen
Source: Fiat-Chrysler

FCA’s new on-board Vehicle User Guide will be equipped in the above 2016 models. Here, owners can flip through the digital pages of an owner’s manual on the 8.4 inch touchscreen installed in the car. Vehicle-specific information will get updates wirelessly.

Trying to find something in one of these new guides isn’t much like traditional manual use, either. Remember those days of scanning a table of contents for things like oil changes or jump starts with confusing numerals like 5-25 and chapters that started in seemingly random and arbitrary places?

The Vehicle User Guide is nothing like that. Instead, you get a neat icon menu on the touchscreen. It’s all visual. Users press on an icon or a visual part of the car, and they get delivered right to the applicable information. There’s also a search function, something that’s standard for most digital resources. Users can enlarge photos of parts of the car to actually see what they’re talking about. And other types of information are also available in the same interface, for example, information on the warranty, which might be pretty useful if you’re looking at anything other than routine maintenance.

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat 8.4 inch U-Connect Performance Pages Timers screen
Source: Fiat-Chrysler

As for safety, the video for the visual service shows that it’s going to be safely switched off when the vehicle is in motion. This kind of restriction is standard for new wireless services that could otherwise become dangerous driver distractions.

To create this ground-breaking service, FCA’s Uconnect team partnered with the Tweddle Group, a global OEM service company.

When I spoke to Tweddle Group Director of Product Development Mike Flaherty, he answered our very important question: What if the battery dies, and you need to look something up?

Flaherty said FCA is working on a “streamlined” paper manual with safety and security information, and some maintenance info. “There’s got to be a way for owners to take action (if the dashboard is down),” Flaherty said.

Flaherty also talked about the company’s goal to apply the technology to vehicles across a greater lineup, and to really start to make the future owner’s manual more interactive, incorporating some of the exciting diagnostic data service that we see in so many new auto platforms. “We’re moving from a print world to a digital world,” Flaherty said, citing magazines and other print materials getting changed into pixels on a screen.

Sure, maybe looking up vehicle service data on the dash won’t be quite like paging through an old oil-stained book. But for drivers who just want a little more room in the glove box, these new on-board resources can’t come soon enough.