The first actual NUCARS (then referred to as ICARS) was held in Geislingen, Germany in 1997. The program was first introduced to Northwood by Toyota Motor Sales in Torrance, California. Toyota developed it to help train their Management Trainees and dealers. They brought it to our campuses and presented it to our students starting in the early 1990’s. At a point in time, through negotiations with Dr. Serum and Dr. Fry, Toyota gave us the rights to use the simulation for our students and to use it internationally for NUCARS.

The simulation is about a dealership that is in financial difficulty. The new owners (the players of the simulation) are charged with rescuing it and restoring it to profitability. In addition, they must improve the dealership’s customer satisfaction scores and meet stringent requirements of Toyota as to facilities and operating procedures.

The participants are given a decision book that lists many possible choices within each major department of the dealership (New Vehicle Sales, Used Vehicle Sales, Service, and Parts). From these they must select three per department per quarter. They have only four quarters to affect change. This puts a premium on prioritizing decisions and selecting the optimum choices to gain maximum results in the three areas listed above (profits, customer satisfaction, factory requirements). The decisions of each team are then fed into the computer and the results are printed out for each team. The teams can then review their decisions and see the impact they had on achieving the desired results. This immediate feedback is one reason that the simulation has enjoyed such success. It is a forced-choice model in that participants must select from a given list and can only choose three per department per quarter. Other simulations like GMAC’s are open-ended in that the students decide on the input.

The uniqueness of this simulation is in the international component. The dynamics of international teams forces everyone to rethink their ideas about marketing and negotiation techniques. This environment is very different than most that you will find in regular class studies. Because the simulation is very goal directed it is common to see rather heated discussions about which alternatives will yield the best result.

In March 2014, NU hosted the NUCARS program piloting the Strat Sim program (with Automotive case study).

The simulation program provides a common goal that students work towards while creating an environment with robust discussion. This program has nurtured lifelong friendships across the world and promotes Northwood University’s mission, “to develop future leaders of free-enterprise society.”

Partner Institutions

Schools participating in the NUCARS program include:

  • Nürtingen-Geislingen University (Germany)

  • BFC-Northeim (Germany)

  • Business Academy Aarhus (Denmark)

  • Copenhagen Business Academy (Denmark)

  • ESSCA (France)

  • Jilin University –Lambton College (China)

  • IVA Driebergen Business School (The Netherlands)

  • Georgian College (Canada)

  • Northwood University (USA)