In COVID-19 Crisis, Localization is More Crucial than Ever for Auto industry

** This article is updated regularly. It was last updated in June 2021 **

It’s been over a year since the first outbreak of COVID-19, and we saw the effects of it on the business industry. For the auto industry, both in retail and manufacturing, there’s a new demand to keep up for when it comes to new wheels. For those in the auto industry who want to become big names like Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Hyundai, they also need to become international.

With this expansion into foreign markets, now more than ever is the time, as the economy is starting to go up again. And with that, the auto industry may need translation services to combine linguistic prowess with auto expertise for entry into foreign markets. When it comes to cars, timing is everything.

The Future Growth of the Auto Industry Is With Multilingual Markets

Cars purchased by Spanish-speakers in the U.S have doubled in the past decade since 2010, according to Dealer Marketing, increasing 116%. Moreover, according to Univision, new car purchases by Hispanics are expected to increase by 8% in the next 5 years, compared to a decline of 2% in the overall market. Driving this trend is the growing income levels of the Hispanic population and the relatively young demographic of that group. Not only that, but 50% of Hispanic youth also buy a luxury vehicle as their first car.

This tendency has attracted the attention of leading automakers, MediaPost reports. Many car manufacturers have dedicated marketing departments targeting this demographic with TV spots and social media tailored to Hispanic tastes. Toyota, Honda, and Mazda have been pacesetters – but Ford is learning too, as exemplified by its successful video campaign for F-150 pickups celebrating “everyday heroes in Hispanic communities.”  A study confirms that Hispanic consumers respond overwhelmingly to campaigns recognizing their cultural distinctiveness.

The question arises as to whether now could be a clutch time to localize auto websites and social media to better serve Spanish consumers. Localization, after all, is an online activity that can be managed from home, requiring no face-to-face meetings. It can be carried out by professional translation services. Here’s how to get started. ¡Vamonos!

Translation Services For Localizing a Product

Before delving into the how-to of the localizing process, it’s important to distinguish. Translating a website or marketing content is a core activity from one language to another focuses only on the need to translate English to Spanish, but localizing the site involves a broader set of adaptations, such as adjusting currency and measurement units but also cultural sensitivity to content preferences. For marketing within the borders of the US, currency and measurement units are not relevant, but awareness of the nuances of Spanish most certainly is.

A successful localizing project has marketing as well and also adaptation of the content to a Hispanic audience. There is a famous story, now considered something of an urban legend, in which Chevrolet allegedly failed in launching the Nova in Mexico because “No va” in Spanish means “doesn’t go.” Whether true or false or somewhere in between, the tale points to the importance of linguistic sensitivity in naming, branding and marketing content generally.

Professional translation services do many things, not just translation. This is a natural extension, of course, since translating from one language to the other is an essential part of the process. Interpreting usually applies to spoken language in a live setting. Localizing a website is in part a technical challenge of adapting the site code to accommodate one or more additional languages. Often one company will do the coding while another will supply the linguistic adaptation.

Choosing a Professional Translation Services Provider

Professional translation services were less affected by the previous health crisis than others. Their industry is largely virtualized, operated remotely and outsourced to worldwide teams via the internet. Therefore, you should know that the availability of services in this sector were largely unaffected by local shutdowns. As in most things, you can start your search for localization partners by using those keywords together with others like “automotive” or “Spanish”. This will ensure that candidates have expertise in the language and the industry.

If you want to localize a website, for example you should merely indicate the website address and a brief description of the mission. Typically you can expect a response within a few hours, even in these disruptive days. The response will typically include a price-quote and a timetable. See out 5-7 initial candidates and then narrow that to 2-3 finalists. Follow up with clarifications about the process, personnel, and delivery. Rates in this industry are typically pegged to a per-word rate: while this is straightforward enough when translating documents, localizing a website is more complex. You should also clarify whether there is a guarantee included: reputable providers will fix any error found in their work, even after delivery and nominal approval. The period of this warranty ranges from a month to a year, the longer the better.

Considering Freelance Options

If your budgets are tight – and whose isn’t these days – you may also wish to consider turning to freelance services or even free software translators. The former can find a freelance marketplace like Upwork and The latter you can find online at Google Translate, Microsoft Translator or DeepL.

While a Spanish translator can be had for a fraction of the rate of a professional translation services – a rule of thumb might be one-half to one-third the price –this option will take more direct management on your part. And you may have no assurance of quality assurance for the translation. One option is to hire two translators – one to assure the quality of the other and provide a backup in case of sickness or unavailability, a concern in these uncertain days. can be outsourced to a web services company.

Resist the temptation to rely too heavily on translation via machines. While the quality of these AI-driven software bots has improved in recent years, they are still no match for expert human translation. The risk of embarrassing and culturally insensitive translations is just too high to risk. As GM may (or may not) have learned with the Chevy Nova, that just doesn’t go!