In this exclusive Q&A, Chris Bahlman, head of Diagnostics & Services at Continental Commercial Vehicles & Services, talks about technology, telematics and connected cars, and also shares an update on new diagnostic and TPMS products recently added to the company’s portfolio.
Continental Diagnostics & Services recently unveiled some exciting new products. Tell us about the Autodiagnos PRO system.
The Autodiagnos Pro was designed with the technician in mind to help increase productivity. From the clear, sharp and intuitive user interface to the speed with which it scans, graphs, sorts and filters diagnostic data, this powerful tool will help technicians diagnose and repair vehicles faster. It was developed by teams who have engineered and built thousands of OEM scan tools, and while our tool is a professional, all-makes tool for the aftermarket, it has the same software “backbone” as the OE tool and is able to run with the same impressive speed and accuracy. If technicians already have a compliant windows-based laptop, notebook, or tablet, they can be up and running quickly and for a very attractive price. Or, they can opt for an uplevel kit, which includes an 8GB Windows SurfaceGo tablet.
We offer excellent application coverage for domestic and Asian brands going back to 2010 and will be adding over eight million VIO, primarily European brands, between October 2020 and June 2021. We’ll also be adding enhanced special test functions and an optional J2534 pass-through device in 2021. The Autodiagnos Pro is designed, assembled, and supported in the US. Free software and coverage updates are included for one year from purchase.
The brand recently unveiled a TPMS diagnostic system as well. How does it differ from other TPMS tools available today?
We started with a strong foundation and partnered with a leader in the field to develop two unique TPMS tools that are designed to help increase shop efficiency, the Autodiagnos TPMS SE and the Autodiagnos D. Both tools have improved flow that saves time by requiring fewer steps to service and diagnose TPMS systems.
The D tool is a full-blown service and diagnostics tool, with complete OEM sensor and comprehensive aftermarket sensor coverage. The SE is focused on TPMS service and has complete OEM sensor coverage, as well as coverage for Continental’s REDI-Sensor and the Schrader EZ Sensor.
We added value with a three-year warranty on both tools and five years of free updates on the SE service tool. Finally, we made the SE a unique product by including complete functionality with our REDI Sensor and Schrader’s EZ Sensor.
With the increasing use of technology and telematics in today’s vehicles, connectivity is a critical asset in the repair process. Tell us about the Continental Remote Vehicle Platform and what it offers shops, fleets and service facilities.
Continental has spent years developing the Remote Vehicle Data platform, or RVD. It incorporates OEM diagnostic data, unique, OEM-grade hardware, and secure data routing and storage. The platform is hosted by Continental and integrates with customers’ own service platforms through APIs. What this means for shops, fleets, and service facilities is secure, robust access to not only generic, but also OEM-specific vehicle data that is tailored to their needs. The latest in cybersecurity standards and testing is used, as is hardware built to OEM standards, using diagnostic data purchased and/or licensed directly from the OEMs. The result is excellent reliability, security, and flexibility.
Customers can receive as much data as they need and how they need it through the APIs. While some elements can be called “off the shelf”, we work with each customer to make sure the data they receive meets all of their criteria, while observing appropriate data privacy and usage regulations.
Finally, our technical and customer support teams are continually involved every step of the way, to make sure the platform is available 24/7. Our RVD platform is unmatched in enabling data driven services for the customer, and vehicle owners and shops alike will have the peace of mind in knowing the vehicle’s health and other parameters without guesswork or inconvenience.
Speaking of access to repair data, where does Continental stand on the issue of Right to Repair, given that it is up for ballot vote in Massachusetts in November, due to telematics changes?
Continental is working globally through a host of trade associations to make sure that all stakeholders’ needs are met. We listen very closely to the requirements of our customers and others to help arrive at a solution that respects data privacy, access, and security, while strictly observing vehicle and driver safety.
Diagnostics are such an important part of a quality repair process today. What are some of the biggest mistakes you see techs make when it comes to diagnostics? What about DIYers?
Our solutions are tailored to the needs of professional technicians, so DIYers like me are not the target market, though I’ve enjoyed using our tools for ‘friendly user testing.’ Technicians today are highly trained and educated. They have to be. I can only use my own experience, in that an understanding of basics forms the “context” for diagnostics. Even under time pressure to get the job done, technicians, as well as service advisors, should step back if needed, ask lots of questions, look for answers, see problems from different angles, and avail themselves of as many resources as possible. Diagnostic tools are great. Vacuum gauges and DMMs are often better. Never stop asking “why?” It’s our goal to help technicians find the answers.
What should technicians look for in a quality set of diagnostic tools?
Overall quality, all around, in the data and coverage, usability and user interface, speed, data reporting, graphing, filtering, and especially in the updates. What enables the quality that the technician sees and can use is the quality that is not seen. And, that’s the Autodiagnos PRO’s backbone software. The toolchain, for the Autodiagnos PRO is the same one that is incorporated into thousands of scan tools used by OEM dealerships around the world. Finally, it’s the quality of the organizations backing the tools, including our customers.