Dealerships

Ford teams up with Bosch to offer virtual reality training for technicians

Ford is utilizing VR technology to train technicians.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford dealership service technicians will soon be training to service and maintain the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E without having to get their hands on a mode thanks to new virtual reality training developed in partnership with Bosch. Other automakers, including Porsche, use this type of technology.

"Technicians will be immersed in a simulated and gamified world, meaning they won't need to rely on actual Mustang Mach-E vehicles to learn about its components, including the electric SUV's new high-voltage system," said Dave Johnson, director of Ford service engineering operations. "This new virtual reality training tool allows technicians to understand the components and steps required to service these high-voltage systems, then confidently perform diagnostics and maintenance."

While traditional service such as a tire change or headlamp replacement are relatively straightforward, technicians now have to deal with the Mustang Mach-E's high-voltage battery system.

According to Ford, the training goes something like this: "A technician will learn how to diagnose and perform service related to the vehicle's high-voltage system wearing the virtual reality headset. This includes tasks such as removal and installation of the main battery as well as service and maintenance on the battery pack itself."

The system uses an Oculus Quest virtual reality headset from Facebook.

That's just the beginning. Bosch will develop extensions to the training program that utilize the same technology that will help them learn how to repair other parts of the vehicle.

"The virtual reality training solution is about new technology that builds efficiency," said Geoff Mee, director of operations for Bosch. "By improving the diagnostic process, technicians are able to perform maintenance and make repairs faster and more easily."

Bosch's version of the technology was proven in 2019 using market testing with instructors, technicians and college students. Ford is the first automaker to use this particular technology and has indicated that the Mustang Mach-E is the first of many vehicles the VR system will be utilized on.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Ford has listened and will be making its Bronco available with a manual transmission and the Sasquatch Package.

Photo courtesy of Twitter/@MrLevine

It's safe to say that enthusiasm for the 2021 Ford Bronco is high. The voices of the enthusiasts are loud too. So loud, that the powers that be at Ford Motor Company headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan heard them when they shouted all over social media that they wanted the Bronco to be available with a manual transmission and the Sasquatch Package - a combination not announced at the product's debut.

"The Bronco community spoke and we heard them," said Mark Grueber, Ford Bronco consumer marketing manager. "Our team moved quickly to add Sasquatch with a manual transmission – another example of our focus on giving customers the best possible off-road vehicles and accessories that we can."

2021 Ford Bronco four-door Many orders have already been placed for the 2021 Bronco.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Previously, the Sasquatch Package was only available on select trim levels of the two- and four-door Bronco with the available 10-speed automatic transmission.

The Sasquatch Package gives the model 35-inch Goodyear mud-terrain tires that are mounted to 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels, Dana front and rear electronic locking axles with 4.7:1 final drive ratio, and a high-clearance suspension with a nearly two-inch wider track, position-sensitive Bilstein shocks, and wider fender flares.

The change makes the Bronco the only 4x4 with a seven-speed manual and 35-inch off-road tires in its class, giving it one more boasting point in the Bronco vs. Wrangler throwdown for off-road supremacy.

The Sasquatch Package will now be available across the Ford Bronco lineup including the Base, Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outerbanks, and Badlands grades. It is standard on the Bronco Wildtrak and First Edition models. Exterior paint job options vary by trim level.

"Capability is always a priority, and pairing Sasquatch with a manual transmission and available advanced 4x4 system gives it a maximum crawl ratio of 94.75:1, providing even more off-road capability across the line-up," said Dave Pericak, Ford icons global director.

The manual transmission with Sasquatch package is targeted to be available in late 2021. But, you may have to wait 15 months to get yours.

Earlier this year, AutomotiveMap rode in a Bronco with a manual transmission as well as the Bronco Sport.

The Bronco build and price module on Ford.com will go live in October. How can you get a deal on your preferred model? There's one thing you need to know.

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The first all-electric Karma Automotive model is set to debut next year.

Photo courtesy of Karma Automotive

Karma Automotive is promising to debut its first all-electric car in 2021. To understand how we got here, it's important to look back a decade.

Fisker Automotive was founded by heralded car designer Henrik Fisker in 2007. For a brief moment in history, it produced the Fisker Karma, one of the world's first production luxury plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). The first Karma was delivered in 2011 but by 2014, the company was staring down liquidation.

That year, Fisker Automotive's Karma vehicle design, tooling, and manufacturing facility were purchased by Wanxiang Group, the largest China-based automotive components company by revenue. Henrik Fisker retried the Fisker trademarks and rights to the Fisker brand. He went on to launch Fisker Inc., a separate company that has big plans for all-electric vehicles, in 2016. Wanxiang Group renamed its vehicle company Karma Automotive.

And now here we are.

Karma Automotive has released an image of the GS as a teaser.

Karma Automotive says that the 2021 debut will be the first public step in a full line, which includes electrification options and leans on technological advancements to set itself apart. The GS Series model will be Karma's first-ever battery electric luxury sedan.

The new models will retain much of the same design as the Revero.

"We are pleased to announce that Karma will now offer our first all-electric vehicle next year as part of the GS series," said Dr. Lance Zhou, Karma's CEO. "Cost reductions in the BOM, streamlining our supply chain and standardized production methods also allowed for a new, more attainable pricing structure for the GS lineup allowing for higher market penetration, opening up the market to a larger group of entry level luxury buyers."

Though its looks, range, pricing, and options aren't yet public knowledge, customers can currently reserve their model at http://www.karmaautomotive.com/reserve. All reservations require a fully-refundable $100 deposit.

For years Chinese brands have been looking to break into the U.S. market without much success. Though there are a growing number of Karma dealerships in the U.S., sales of the vehicles are few and far between.

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