Some Ford Service Techs Are Using Virtual Reality Headsets

A Closer Look at the Technology Enhancements Coming to the Service Department

By Desiree Homer

Ford is the first automaker to tap into virtual reality as a method for powertrain assessment and repair. In a partnership with Robert Bosch, an automotive supplier, service technicians will be trained to service the upcoming Mustang Mach-E model, using a VR headset. While many of today’s headlines showcase advancements in vehicle-based features, it’s important also to track how tech will affect the maintenance efforts for those vehicles. At the dealership operations level, streamlining the diagnosis and maintenance process for service technicians can translate to quicker turnaround and, ultimately, grow revenue.

How Ford Is Exploring Virtual Reality

The Mustang Mach-E is an electric crossover that Ford plans to launch for 2021. The pony brand will offer different battery sizes to accommodate a variety of customer-needed ranges. To prepare the service technicians for a new model, now with battery packs and a high-voltage system, the automaker is investing in VR tools to help. The virtual reality headset will be part of training, and technicians will be ‘immersed in a simulated and gamified world,’ according to Dave Johnson, director of Ford service engineering. He goes on to explain how this reality tool will actually allow the service teams to peer inside the vehicle, view and assess the components, and understand how to repair it.

New Technology Means New Service Technician Training & Certification

At the dealership level, many franchise owners are told that if their stores want to sell the latest Mustang Mach-E, the service technicians will need to be trained and recertified to introduce them to the new technology properly. According to Automotive News, the company’s officials have confirmed 9,500 EV technicians and 2,000 dealerships are already certified and ready for the new EV model.

Prepare for New Service Department Technology

During this latest VR system announcement, Ford points out that technicians will be able to learn new skills using this technology without having to climb under or into a vehicle to do it. This allows technicians to learn the various components and diagnosis process without getting their hands dirty. Making the VR simulation available for training with the Mach-E may prove to be a popular method worth implementing across all certification processes for other models in the future.

Attracting More People to the Service Technician Profession

Imagine your technicians slipping on an Oculus Quest, virtual reality headset, and within minutes, diagnosing a vehicle’s issue. To incentivize the quickest diagnosis, the simulation is set up like a game, offering VR based setbacks and rewards along the way. Ford has mentioned it hopes this new technology with its ‘gaming-like’ features and training, will attract more people to the service technician profession. Allowing for simulation training and assessment, without a physical vehicle present, can provide a fun and efficient way to earn certifications and advance career objectives.

This latest virtual reality announcement is only applicable to the Mach-E and Ford for now. But, keep an eye on new and enhanced service-based technology advancements. Your dealership may be able to take advantage of similar products to streamline and grow your service department’s abilities and revenues in the long run.