Printed owner’s manual about to be scrapped?

Pacifica, others put digital version in infotainment system

Pacifica, others put digital version in infotainment system

The latest Uconnect system provides “effortless accessibility” to vehicle information, FCA says.

Another manual is about to bite the dust — only this shift in preference has more to do with the endangered printed word than with a stubborn clutch pedal.

Like the manual transmission, the automotive owner’s manual — savior and scourge of stranded motorists and bathroom reading for the intellectually curious for nearly as long as there have been automobiles — appears to be headed toward the dustbin of history.

In March, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles became the latest automaker to expand its use of digitized owner’s manuals incorporated into a vehicle’s onboard infotainment system. The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, which features the latest iteration of FCA’s Uconnect infotainment system, follows the recently refreshed Dodge Charger and Challenger and Chrysler 300 by integrating an electronic version of the manual into the onboard computer.

Though the Pacifica still retains a paper copy in the glove box — with a dead battery, it’s tough to find the jump-start procedure if the screen is dark — paper manuals are becoming heavy luxuries in an era when automakers are trying to shed every ounce they can to improve fuel economy.

“The percentage of car owners that actually read their owner’s manual is depressingly small,” says Kelley Blue Book analyst Karl Brauer. “Switching to an electronic version, especially one that can be contextually referenced while using features like in the new Pacifica system, might finally teach owners about their vehicle’s full capabilities.”

Electronic versions of owner’s manuals have been available to download from automakers for years. The option offers a way for consumers armed with a smartphone to access and search instructions for almost any vehicle, in almost any situation.

“The percentage of car owners that actually read their owner’s manual is depressingly small.”Karl Brauer, Kelley Blue Book analyst

But by integrating the manual into the infotainment system, automakers such as BMW, Kia, Mini, FCA and others can augment the two-dimensional and static printed page with videos and instructions that better show consumers how their vehicle operates. For dealers, the videos also may help consumers answer questions about their vehicle or show them how to do something that may have been overlooked in the delivery process.

“The Vehicle User Guide application minimizes the everyday stresses by providing drivers with effortless accessibility of their vehicle information,” Tricia Hecker, FCA’s head of connected services, said in a written statement.

In addition to being updatable, electronic manuals can include one other large advantage over their printed counterparts: customization. For example, on the Pacifica, FCA embeds information specific to the vehicle identification number in the electronic vehicle user guide.

Still, it may be some time before paper manuals completely disappear. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it does not require owner’s manuals to be provided in print only. However, NHTSA says some federal safety regulations “require information to be placed in owner’s manuals, if a manual is provided, or otherwise provided in a paper format.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.