Not so long ago, most new-car buyers had one option to track the status of their order: wait for the dealer to call and say, "It's in." Chrysler has changed that, though, with a new series of websites that keep shoppers up-to-date about their vehicles' whereabouts on the assembly line.
The program is (unimaginatively) called the "Vehicle Order Tracking System", or VOTS, and it's now available for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram vehicles. To participate, buyers simply have to tell their dealer that they're interested in the tracking program and fork over an email address. The dealer will send the customer a VIN for her new ride, which she'll then use to access a website and track her vehicle's status.
The VOTS section can be found on all four Chrysler websites by dropping in "/vots" after the base URL. (For example, Dodge tracking can be found at www.Dodge.com/vots, and so on.) Then, customers fill in their first and last names, plus the last eight digits of their VIN, and Chrysler will show where their vehicles are in the manufacturing process.
In all, there are eight steps the vehicle has to follow before the customer finally gets the keys -- though two are simply an order confirmation and a notice that production has been scheduled. Afterward, the vehicle can be tracked through "Frame", "Paint", "Trim", "Final Inspection", "Shipment", and "Delivery". Chrysler doesn't offer photos or videos of the actual vehicle that customers have purchased, but we can't imagine that such amenities are too far away.
Of course, Chrysler isn't the only automaker to offer a tracking service to customers, but most of the others that do are luxury manufacturers with high-end clientele who expect the extra perks. Now, Chrysler has brought that same service to the masses.
Given the way that the internet has changed consumer expectations, this development was probably inevitable. After all, we're used to tracking shipments from Amazon, Zappos, and every other website, so why not cars, too? We'd be surprised if other automakers didn't roll out similar services in the near future.