Top Augmented Reality Applications in the Automotive Industry

Written by: Claire Cavanaugh

Read Time: 4 min

Editor's note: This blog was originally published in March 2023; it was updated to reflect new information.

How Is Augmented Reality Used in the Automotive Industry? 

Between changing customer preferences and rising competitive pressures, it’s critical that manufacturing and service organizations keep up with digital transformation in the automotive industry. Fast-paced innovation is the new normal, and automation, robotics, AI, and other advancements make vehicles more complex than ever before. As a result, inspections are also more challenging, raising the stakes for quality assurance.

Unfortunately, whether they're being used to service a car or inspect a new part, traditional paper-based work instructions add more complexity than clarity—and your workforce might not have the contextual information it needs to drive efficiency. That’s why best-in-class automotive manufacturing and service organizations are using augmented reality (AR) to drive revenue growth, minimize costs, improve quality, and boost efficiency with clear, in-context 3D work instructions. 

What Are the Types of AR Used in the Automotive Industry? 

AR technology displays clear digital information in the context of the user’s environment. The type of AR a technician needs depends on how they will be using it. For service technicians, having in-depth 3D instructions can require a technician to be hands-free via an AR headset. On the manufacturing floor, AI-enhanced visual inspections can significantly improve quality. Whatever the situation calls for, there’s a type of AR that can empower manufacturing and service teams to work on increasingly complex vehicles and inspect them with confidence and efficiency.  

What Are the Benefits of Using AR? 

AR improves efficiency, productivity, and performance across manufacturing, service, and training departments, driving tangible outcomes such as: 

  • Improved new hire productivity by up to 40%
  • Increased first-time fix rate (FTFR) by up to 30% 
  • Reduced training costs by up to 50% 
  • Decreased manufacturing cycle time by up to 36%
  • Accelerated updates and validation of QA checklists from over a full day to under an hour (Source: Volvo)

Beyond these KPIs, the following AR use cases address the biggest manufacturing and service challenges.

  • Using AR Helps to Reduce Service Times and Costs 

Unclear, overcomplicated, and often outdated paper-based work instructions can create the biggest roadblock to efficient service. When technicians are missing the scale, detail, and context they need to work on complex equipment, it prolongs service times and drives up associated costs. AR delivers the information technicians need in clear, easy-to-understand experiences—whenever and wherever they need it. 3D AR technology shows detailed, step-by-step instructions in the context of the physical equipment, reducing service times and associated costs.   

  • Augmented Reality Helps Improve FTFR 

Complex paper-based work instructions don’t just impact the duration of service. Accuracy is also a significant concern when service teams lack clear guidance—and FTFR is bound to suffer. AR transforms paper-based manuals into 3D work instructions that are overlaid on specific parts, empowering technicians to solve problems quickly the first time. 

  • Augmented Reality Optimizes End-of-Line Inspections

End-of-line inspections are one of the last opportunities for frontline workers to identify product defects. AR addresses common end-of-line inspection challenges with AI-based assessment and decision making, visual hints and warnings, and mobile inspection features.

  • Automotive Workforce Efficiency Can Be Improved Using AR

AR drives automotive workforce efficiency by: 

  • Accelerating training with intuitive digital experiences 
  • Reducing service times with 3D content in the context of the vehicle, which helps technicians locate the problem right away 
  • Improving FTFR with clear, detailed work instructions that eliminate the complexity of traditional manuals 
  • Increasing workforce productivity, safety, and compliance through digital tools that can be shared and scaled across the enterprise
  • Improving AI-enhanced work instructions for streamlined inspections

These efficiencies also reduce service wait times and downtime, improving both the company’s reputation and customer trust. 

The Future of Augmented Reality Applications in the Automotive Industry 

AR can be used in many ways to drive digital transformation and improve workforce efficiency. The following key AR use cases are impacting the automotive market today—and will continue to do so in the future:   

1. Self-Service and Car Manuals 

Customer satisfaction is a key metric for success. Repeat visits to manufacturer dealerships are frustrating, but traditional car manuals aren’t the most empowering solution. Whether the customer doesn’t know how to use their new vehicle or simply needs to change the oil or replace a headlight, AR car manuals provide the right instructions whenever they’re needed. With AR, there’s no need to flip through hundreds of pages for the right information—the user can simply point their phone at the dashboard for the answer to their question. Automotive companies can easily share AR experiences with their customers for simplified, less stressful self-service. This reduces customer wait times, limits technician travel costs, and boosts customer satisfaction. 

2. Maintenance and Repair 

When vehicles are brought in for maintenance or repair, 2D instructions can’t capture the scale and complexity of complicated vehicles, leading to unproductive search time. As a result, wait times and costs increase before the service even begins. And during service, complex 2D instructions are cumbersome and unhelpful. AR gives service technicians a detailed X-ray view inside the vehicle, at scale, so they can pinpoint the issue immediately, completing service faster and at a lower cost.   

3. Quality Inspection

AI-enhanced augmented reality is the future of quality inspections for automotive manufacturers. By using AI-enhanced AR, frontline workers can complete inspections more quickly with fewer human errors and streamlined documentation and reporting. Leading automotive manufacturers like Volvo are using AR to streamline inspections and improve quality. Read Volvo’s story here.

Are You Driving Automotive Manufacturing and Service Efficiency? 

For many shops, traditional 2D work instructions are holding back automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) from delivering the highest-quality service and completing inspections efficiently and accurately. But best-in-class automotive OEMs are realizing the value of AR to simplify complex work instructions, reduce part search time, improve quality, and increase customer satisfaction. The good news is that many of these AR solutions are relatively easy and quick to implement—and deliver a rapid ROI in addition to long-term benefits and sustained reputational value.   

Learn how you can harness AR applications in the automotive industry to address key workforce challenges, improve inspections, and boost service efficiency with intuitive, clear, in-context 3D work instructions. 

Explore AR for Automotive Manufacturers

Learn how AR solves top automotive manufacturing and service efficiency challenges. Explore AR for Automotive
Tags: Augmented Reality Automotive AR Workforce Efficiency Digital Transformation

About the Author

Claire Cavanaugh

Claire is a Content Marketing Manager on PTC's Commercial Marketing team. She creates content in support of PTC products and solutions.