Know Your Audience: Automotive Training Tips for Europe (Part 1 of 2)
Writing training materials for the European automotive market requires additional steps compared to writing for the U.S. domestic auto market. Listed below are some issues that may need to be addressed.
This first installment takes a look the physical differences between European vehicles and those sold domestically.
First off, you’ll need to reference the appropriate ordering guide for the chosen country. You must also make sure you take into consideration localization. Localization (spelled localisation in Europe) is the term for unique equipment configurations for certain countries. For example, cold weather equipment and extra-strength security systems may only be available in a few European countries.
European Features Not Offered in the U.S.
Rear fog lamps and headlight leveling systems are examples of product content typically not offered in the United States. You should become aware of your product’s Euro-only content and why it’s offered. For example: Headlight leveling may be a government mandate in certain countries.
In Europe, Great Britain is one of the few places that drive on the left side of the road. Consequently, you’ll need to take into consideration any peculiarities Great Britain-market vehicles have. For example, Euro continent-destined LHD vehicles may employ the latest electric power steering, whereas Great Britain-destined vehicles may still have hydraulic power steering. An interesting fact ─ both Iceland and Sweden switched from driving on the left-side of the road to the right in the late 1960’s.
Language and Specs
We next take a look at differences between language and measuring methods.
Typically, European training materials are written in British Queen’s English and then translated by the client for each of their individual markets where the vehicle is sold. Listed below are a few examples of Queen’s English and its American counterpart.
- Aluminum becomes aluminium (add an extra i)
- Gasoline becomes petrol
- Hood becomes bonnet
- Trunk becomes boot
- Tires become tyres
- Cell phone becomes mobile phone
- Center becomes centre
- Color becomes colour
- Odor becomes odour
- Kilometers become kilometres
- Maneuvers become manoeuvres
- Liters become litres
- Lamps become lights
- LATCH becomes ISOFIX
I recommend performing a word search and swap for each of these terms prior to completing the deliverable. Microsoft Word also has a setting for British English which will help keep the British spelling accurate.
Use the Metric System for Vehicle Specifications
European vehicle specifications are provided using the metric system.
- Measurements, such as length and headroom are in millimeters
- Volumes, such as fuel capacity, are measured in litres, or for interior volume ─ cubic litres
- Since the U.S. gallon is not used in Europe, fuel efficiency is measured in litres per 100 kilometer.
- Kilowatts replace horsepower, so instead of listing “horsepower @ rpm”, you would use “Output kW @ rpm”
- Torque is measured in Newton-metres “Nm @ rpm”
- Measurements, such as turning diameter, are measured in metres
Chris Harbowy is an Instructional Designer/Writer at Jackson Dawson, where he creates automotive training material.
Learn more about differences between writing for American and European automotive markets in Part 2 of this 2-part series, coming soon.