How VR is changing Marketing, Customer Experience and Safety in automotive industry
Written by
Anand Ethiraj

Test drive your car before it is built

When it comes to revolutionary changes in auto industry, much of the hype is around self-driven cars (autonomous cars) thanks to artificial intelligence (AI). A lot is being written about personal digital/virtual assistants inside the car. There is yet another sweeping change that is influencing auto industry from multiple perspectives – safety, economics, customer experience and marketing. That’s the rapid rise in the use of Virtual Reality (VR) & Augmented Reality (AR) in delivering a whole new experience and interaction with the customers… adding a different dimension to the digital transformation in the industry.

The reality check!

Virtual Reality (VR) has moved from fantasy to reality with the first generation of head-mounted displays now entering the consumer gaming & entertainment market. Is VR limited to just gaming. Nay! VR adds an extraordinary level of immersion, delivering engaging experiences that are poised to change the way we do business. Yes, you heard it right. The way we do business.

Saving costs

virtual reality car showroom
Imagine providing a qualitatively superior experience of engaging with the brand for customers, by car dealers, at less than half the space of a traditional car showroom. Thanks to the immersive experience and the possibilities of VR, a physical test drive is no longer required. This means the entire range of the brand can be fully demonstrated to the customers without physical display. And that’s not all the ‘digitally enhanced’ showrooms offer a more complete experience for the customers by integrating in-store, online and mobile platforms, allowing guests to research, book a test drive, obtain a price for their old car, choose a payment option, purchase and organize a service of their car all at the touch of a button.

There are companies that are providing virtual demonstrations and test drives of their cars on the go, at malls / exhibitions / events eliminating the need for ‘showrooms’ and reaching more people simultaneously.

Enhancing safety

Imagine crashing the most expensive car while test driving. Consider exploring all the possibilities of a car crash to get yourself trained to drive in city streets before you start driving. These are the possibilities of VR that Toyota has opened by using VR -. Their new driving simulator with Oculus Rift uses the virtual reality technology to educate the people about the dangers of distracted driving. By wearing a VR headset learners can experience a simulation of the road and hazards, identify pedestrians, parked cars, and oncoming traffic.

Taking the customers for an ‘immersive’ ride

All the excitement of VR, however, is in the customer experience realm.
virtual reality in car design
BMW has leveraged virtual reality cars tours to allow prospective buyers get the feel of new car models and even suggest modifications. Their VR & AR powered app allows you to select the exterior and interior, open doors and switch on the light. At an auto expo, Infiniti allowed fans to experience a virtual car ride, which resulted in 50% of visitors signing up for future communications.

Audi recently launched VR experience as first fully functional virtual reality application for customer consultation at dealerships. With the VR headset, prospective buyers can configure their individual dream car and explore even the smallest details from an extremely realistic perspective, selecting from several hundred million possible models and equipment variants. The VR application allows users to become completely immersed in the virtual world, conveying an all-encompassing, detailed image prior to the purchase decision. The configured Audi is experienced in three dimensions and 360 degrees, with all light and sound effects. Various environments, times of day, and light conditions also contribute to the true-to-life virtual experience of sitting in the car. The interior can also be observed from every perspective, down to the surface of the decorative inlays, depending on the position relative to the virtual light source.*

In fact, companies today can provide experiences everywhere — lobbies, customers’ living rooms, and events. By delivering a near-actual experience, VR completely changes the general approach towards car marketing and becomes a great source of a truly groundbreaking customer experience.

We believe the possibilities are unraveling fast, and we are in for even more exciting times ahead.