The Horsepower of eLearning: Fueling Automotive Industry Since Toddlerhood

Summary: For almost twenty years, the automotive industry has been relying on eLearning fuels. This is how we’ve shown our horsepower in this giant’s development.

The automotive industry has been using eLearning fuels for almost two decades: from staff and dealer training to today’s VR simulations.

This estimate is given according to the data on Ford’s satellite-based interactive platform: namely, Ford’s platform Fordstar was created in 1995, only a year after the establishment of the first online school (CompuHigh). Now, there may be some earlier e-training systems we yet don’t know of, but starting from here, one may say that the automotive industry has been using eLearning for almost as long as eLearning itself exists.

What’s interesting here is that eLearning entered the automotive industry in its very beginnings; nevertheless, the boost and ROI provided by it were of a gigantic scale, as if it were an industrial giant, not an eLearning toddler.

This shows the horsepower of eLearning, even in its toddlerhood, and the Fordstar LMS is the proof.

The scale of Ford’s investment was significant, $100 million, yet it soon paid off. The project was so special in many ways. Firstly, it was developed in only three years. Secondly, it was interactive: learners could directly speak to the trainer. Thirdly, it overtook 92% of F2F training courses, making them available to employees worldwide. And, my, oh my, it generated a 35% ROI, having trained more than two-thirds of all dealership personnel (405 980) in only two years. (Careless 2003)

Now, moving away from Ford and into the bigger picture, since we’re all in toddlers, ages, and growths, let’s see the developmental journey of the automotive industry and eLearning that continues to this day.

Infancy: Onboarding

In the automotive industry, no less than in any other, onboarding includes the receipt of so much information. However, we will keep this simple: eLearning is of massive importance in this delicate phase, because you want your infant to develop into a happy baby.

Good fundamentals pave the way to success and can easily come from well-structured courses, maybe even one. From company organization, across car brand image and guidelines, corporate culture, to basic and supporting everyday activities; from garage to office. This is the starting point for conveying your car’s story to the public. It all starts with your people, who will then project the image to your target customer. Is your car in the luxury domain? Family or middle-aged singles? You attract what you are: if your team is on clear terms with it, then you’ll surely hit your target customers.

Toddlerhood: Technical Training

Why is this stage called “toddlerhood” when it’s larger than life in the automotive industry? Ever heard of “the 1st three are the most important”? It refers to the first three years of a human’s life, the period in which our brains create thousands of connections each second. The 1st three are the precondition for successful growth and development. Technical training is the precondition for successful growth and development – the simple truth.

eLearning methods have come a long way since Fordstar. Automotive industries today use eCourses not only for mere technical instructions but also to take advantage of their responsiveness: dashboards can be simulated up to the tiniest details, handling the machinery becomes easier and less risky for beginners, wiring, assembling, literally any phase in car production can be translated into eCourses.

This maximizes the security of your team if we’re talking heavy machinery, or the precision level if we’re talking about delicate technology. This industrial giant is so fast-paced in technology growth spurts, so eLearning makes so much more sense money-wise, too. If you’re in an industry where advances fly in on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, eLearning is the best way to make the knowledge available and up to date. It’s fast and flexible, just like new technologies.

Childhood: Industry Standards

When you’re a kid, you want to grow up quickly and start achieving your dreams. Similarly, the industry standards are the materials you want to master quickly because you want to focus on product development, right? AND because eLearning makes it easily and quickly accessible to employees worldwide, right!?

Adolescence: Sales and Marketing Training

Out-of-the-box rebellious thinking and execution – some of the most valuable adolescent traits. And let’s not forget emphasizing soft skills along the way. These types of training are grateful to have because you can tailor your eLearning courses specifically to your car brand needs.

Focus on your market segmentation and marketing strategies. When it comes to sales training, weave your branding and culture into the course. This way you’ll make sure the brand’s story and image perfectly translate through your team to your customers.

Adulthood: CX Training

As one collects experiences, they start to evoke positive or negative emotions and learn from these experiences. “Will I return to this dealer? Did the team contribute to my positive/negative experience? Did the buying experience exceed my expectations?” An adult, mature customer today knows that the entire experience counts. Take a look at this, it’s what we at eWyse think:

I bet many more would have similar opinions. The personnel at a dealership is the first line of encounter and they set the standard for the top-level service. Or bottom-level service – it’s up to you and your team.

Technical knowledge and practices will always be transferred in the automotive industry (we’re dealing with one of the world’s most competitive industries, come on!); but if a car brand wants to stand out, HR and/or R&D need the additional support of eLearning. It will provide training and motivate the staff that is in direct contact with the market and customer. As individual dealers are globally distributed, eLearning makes wonders.

Middle Age: Product Care for Customers

Entering middle age, one most likely knows their taste and is aware of their wishes and paying power. And they know that when they spare no expense on something, they want to pamper it.

The automotive industry knows that the pampering is reserved for the customer. So, providing additional materials via apps, or online platforms, be it videos or interactive courses with downloadables, is your way of showing you care and are loyal to your customer (Copernican Revolution, people!). This can be anything from instructions on how to care for a product, to the boost of your additional care products.

We mentioned earlier that you attract what you are: when a car brand shows loyalty to a customer, make no mistake – the customer will be loyal in return.

Entering The Third Age: VR Simulations

The third age is the time for new perspectives: VR. This technology can be utilized to improve different aspects of the automotive industry, and this is just from the top of our heads:

  • to train the team to handle new technologies and machinery;
  • to take a virtual tour around the factory or assembly line for basic how-to learning;
  • to simulate test drives as a new customer experience;
  • to train teams and/or customers to use new interfaces.

Possibilities are numerous with the right amount of imagination. And budget. And the right partners. Maybe eWyse, huh?

eLearning Is The Irreplaceable Top-Level Staff Fuel

eLearning technologies and innovations may not be developing at such a fast pace as those in the automotive industry, but we still provide irreplaceable fuel for top-notch teams. How else could this 20-year-old relationship between the industries be explained?

There may be some compromises, as in any relationship, but in reality, we make each other better. Here are the traits that we, the eLearning community, believe contribute to the relationship:

  • eLearning is flexible in terms of content,
  • human-focused,
  • cost-efficient,
  • fast.

And as any true and loyal partner, we continue working on self-improvement to the benefit of all industries.

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft


Author: Tamara Tomek

Source: Careless, James (2003). Ford Motor Co.: Training Employees And Slashing Costs With A High-Tech Solution. Via Satellite. Retrieved July 7, 2023, from: ford-motor-co-training-employees-and-slashing-costs-with-a-high-tech-solution

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