Has the automotive industry really started its journey with Virtual Reality?

The car industry has long been at the forefront in introducing new technology and has often developed new technologies from within, putting them quickly into production mostly with huge safety and ecology benefits.

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Sceptics might argue that much of this progress has been at the hard fought insistence of the regulators, to keep up with public opinion or in response to simple product competition. The evidence is however that the car companies have invested heavily not just to keep up with these factors but to stay well ahead.

Yet what of Virtual and Augmented reality? These new technologies are the subject of massive hype and investment by leading tech companies, Facebook’s Oculus and Google’s Daydream being examples. Initially they are being targeted for consumer entertainment purposes, however VR and AR are perfect for extensive commercial use within the automotive industry.

Virtual Reality could potentially revolutionise so much of the car industry, including:

  • Offering new techniques to improve sales and customer retention. Using virtual reality to create unique, engaging and enjoyable experiences for the customer. These will be key to customers buying products and will keep them coming back. A customer that has had such an experience is also likely to share their story by word of mouth, or of course on social media.
  • Support of or even replacement of dealerships. For example, Toyota agency Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles has a 35 person Virtual Reality team that’s developing virtual showrooms. Experiences such as these offer customers the chance to browse the showroom as if they were actually standing in one, view a wide range of vehicles and also virtually drive and explore them in a fully immersive environment – without the overheads of an actual dealership.
  • Enhancing and maximising the potential for retail sales in shopping malls. With such a high volume of potential customers passing through malls, the ability to offer virtual test-drives, along with other awesome immerse VR experiences is sure to increase engagement, interest in products and ultimately sales.
  • Moving more emphasis to online purchase decision making. According to a recent survey carried out by Autotrader, 88% of shoppers would not buy a car unless they had taken it for a test-drive, but with the use of VR technology, customers can be offered a fully immersive, realistic test-driving experience without the need for visiting a showroom, leading to increased online purchases.

VR in training is also particularly effective. We are hearing lots about autonomous driving (“driverless cars” say Google), technology that once perfected will transform how we all use our cars. VR can provide the perfect medium to help the car companies explain how driverless technology works and provide the key instruction to its customers (“drivers”)  on what it is and isn’t capable of, without actually moving beyond a virtual world; a massive contributor to road safety.


By Scott Dodkins, Partner FundamentalVR

At Fundamental VR we have the expertise and programmes to help car companies maintain their competitive edge in technology and innovation, and to move forward at a quicker pace with the widespread introduction VR & AR, allowing all the benefits to be enjoyed.

Fundamental VR is a consultancy and studio that helps brands and businesses to harness the opportunities of virtual, mixed and augmented reality by identifying the short, medium and long-term potential to their business.  Clients include Bayer, News UK, Boston Scientific, Oculus, Adidas, BT. Fundamental, a communications agency for the experience age.


 

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VR & AR World 2016, London

If you’d like to meet other VR and AR experts and find out more about how both virtual and augmented reality are being used across a wide range of industries, and how companies plan to use them in the future, visit the VR & AR World event website.

 

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