The Bosch Xperience Mobile Tour made a stop on Aug. 5 at Babcox Media. Editors were invited to experience the simulated virtual workshop, working through a series of real-world vehicle repair problems using Oculus Rift headset technology.
Two trucks, fully equipped and staffed, will cover more than 40 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. from June to November. Bosch has made more than 130 stops and visited with nearly 1,500 technicians on the tour, to date.
Rob Darrow, manager of strategic projects for Bosch, also stopped by the event to talk to Babcox editors. In it’s second year, the project has evolved from the original design. “We really refocused the tour this year on the technician. With a range of experience levels, you sometimes have to make content that’s somewhat in the middle. We’ve designed this content to be more focused, and we also changed it in a way that still caters to those who are selling our product at the counter — the countermen themselves — so we have different stuff for them as well,” Darrow said.
A change from last year, where participants travelled through a 3-D gasoline direct injection model, the simulation was expanded to that of a workshop. “We have upgraded our mobile units with the latest Oculus DK2 technology to create a virtual shop experience,” said Bobby Bloom, senior vice president, Automotive Aftermarket U.S., Robert Bosch LLC. “It’s focused on training, yet still maintains an element of entertainment.”
“It’s always the component of virtual reality, which is the hook. How do you get people to want to come listen to you? The most important asset in here is the trainer. That’s because now these [participants] have an opportunity to direct the experience where they want to go. If I’m a technician, or if I’m a sales person — I want to ask questions. That’s what these guys are on board for,” said Darrow.
In typical workshops that last a couple of hours, technicians compete against each other and go through the entire repair process – identifying faults, selecting the parts and completing the repair on three separate cars in the virtual garage. Each technician is awarded points based on time and following proper procedure. The highest score in each group will win a prize for the quick and successful resolution of the customer’s complaint.
During the full-day clinics, technicians focus on new technologies such as gasoline direct injection (GDI), start-stop, diesel systems and braking. Certified trainers from the Bosch Automotive Aftermarket training team will conduct the clinics employing a mix of hands-on and classroom training.
Mark Dekoster, one of the four ASE Certified trainers contracted by Bosch during the tour, commented on the importance of educating techs on new technologies as they are introduced to the market. “More and more manufacturers are putting [gasoline direct injection] out, and in the next few years the percentage of vehicles leaving the factory with the technology will be pretty high, certainly exceeding 50 percent if not more.”
Darrow commented that the primary two ways Bosch found locations to stop at was firstly through distributors and secondly through the car service networks. He also said Bosch reached out to shops if the tour truck was passing through. “When we’re in the field in certain cities, we look up shops that have the space to fit [the tour truck]. We then invite them to host the truck and invite non-competitive shops around them to join them.”
To host a stop, contact a Bosch distributor or visit boschxperience.com.
The full gallery of photos is available here.