Localization in the Automotive Industry: Why is Translation Technology so important?

The automotive industry has been around for more than a century, and it involves a wide range of companies and organizations that design, produce and commercialize motor vehicles. The word automotive was coined from the Greek word autos (self), and Latin motivus (of motion), to refer to any form of self-powered vehicle.

World motor vehicle production has grown steadily since 2009, and the boom is expected to continue thanks to high growth rates in China, Asia Pacific, and South America. The key players in the industry have become used to selling globally and having to streamline sales and marketing strategies to include localization, even more so now that their products are becoming smarter. Today, selling a car not only requires translating a user manual but also other components such as strings in digital screens, applications and much more.

As products in the automotive industry evolve, so does their need for translation and localization.

A Growing Demand for Content in Diverse Formats

In order to comply with industry regulations and be able to sell their vehicles all over the world, vehicle manufacturers need to localize a whole set of documents in different formats. So, what type of content do they need to localize?

  • Contracts and general communications
  • User manuals and guides
  • Service manuals
  • Warranty documentation
  • Marketing material (brochures, catalogues, leaflets, roll-ups, etc.)
  • Software for production and equipment
  • Software manuals for machinery and equipment
  • Websites

Increasing Efficiency and Cutting Costs

In the automotive industry, marketing and sales materials are usually standardized to a certain extent. These kinds of documents feature a high degree of regularity and repetition, and can be translated faster and more consistently with the help of automated translation technology. It simplifies the job for translators and makes translation more accessible for end-buyers.

Companies in the automotive industry as well as other enterprises and language service providers worldwide are currently using this technology. Here, we list a few examples:

Translation memories

A translation memory is an engine that stores your previous translations. It is likely that a vehicle’s user manual may contain the segment “the smart entry & start system” more than once. With a translation memory, a translator only needs to translate this once and can later re-use the translation whenever they find the same segment again. Overall, this helps translators speed up the localization process while increasing coherence and quality. A company may set up several translation memories and make sure the translations of their legal contracts are stored separately from those of their website, which are usually more informal.

Machine Translation

This refers to automated software-powered translation, often used in documents where repetitive information needs to be translated. In order to guarantee good results, machine translation is usually paired with a process known as translation post-editing, which involves human.

Term Bases

A termbase or glossary is a database containing terms usually related to a specific subject. With a termbase, companies can easily prioritize the use of certain terminology for specific types of translations and make sure this is used consistently. For example, making sure that “caja de cambios” is always translated as “gearcase” and never as “gearbox” or “gear housing”.

Dealing with Document Updates

Computer-assisted translation technology has shown great results in the automotive industry partly because a lot of the content produced relates to version updates of existing documents, which makes previous translations highly re-usable. Let’s take the case of a car user manual or the text strings in the touch screen stereo: it is very likely in both cases that the latest version released for a certain model shares a lot of content with the previous version. Translation technology allows you to quickly identify exactly where the new versions have changed, saving translators valuable time, as they do not have to compare both documents to spot the changes manually.

Bulletproofing your Translations

Why do you need to automate quality assurance? When is it convenient? When you have a document with only a few hundred words, it is rather easy to go over it and make sure there are no errors. However, when you have a user manual of more than one hundred thousand words, localized into more than 10 languages, then it is a different story.

Automated quality assurance refers to a series of processes that check for machine-detectable errors in a translation document that are usually invisible to the naked eye: double spaces, missing punctuation, wrong capitalization, etc. The software will also check your translations against the terms in your glossary, and give you a warning whenever a forbidden term is used. This way, you can guarantee that you are using terminology consistently, whether in your website, user manual or marketing brochures.

Automated quality assurance helps decrease the revision cycle of a translation, but will never replace the need for human proofreaders, as technology has still not evolved enough to make suggestions on tone, register or style.

Relying on a Specialized Language Service Provider

Not every company necessarily has the expertise for handling the localization processes required to leverage translation technology to its fullest. Perhaps some can afford to run a translation department, but still have trouble finding talented localization engineers or staffing a translation team when they need to launch new vehicles to several markets. These are just one of the reasons why many companies opt to outsource translation to a language service provider.

At On Global, we offer exclusive translation services for automotive companies, working with qualified translators that have a degree and relevant experience in the field.

We will build a glossary with your key technical terminology and make sure to make use of, refine and maintain it within our translation environment.

Looking for a translation partner to help you localize content for other markets?

Learn more about On Global’s translation services here.

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