The concept of virtual reality is increasingly making its presence felt across numerous industries, not least motoring. A few years ago, virtual reality (VR) would have been the sole preserve of research and development teams in the process of designing new vehicles. Now, it has made its way into the customer experience, with many showrooms offering virtual test drives to motorists who can get a true sense of how a car feels to drive without having to set foot outside the showroom. Indeed, motorists can now take virtual test drives from the comfort of their own homes.
The infographic below, which was created by Woodstock Motors, explores how VR is changing the game not just for drivers and motor companies, but also car dealerships, motoring circuits and satellite industries such as tire manufacturers. Aside from the virtual test drive experience which we mentioned earlier, VR has been put to very good use by several leading car brands. Ford and Audi have both utilized the technology to create virtual impressions of their vehicles which allow customers to obtain a sensual experience of the inside and outside of a car simply by wearing an Oculus Rift headset. Toyota has used VR for a different reason, namely to emphasize the importance of road safety by simulating a driving experience where motorists’ responses to numerous distractions are tested. If motorists could see the devastation that unsafe road habits could cause without actually putting themselves at risk, they may well be prompted to rethink their driving once they’ve seen a vivid depiction of just what could happen.
For showroom operators, VR opens some very enticing new doors. The provision of a virtual test drive will no doubt pique the interests of customers, who even if they don’t like the technology could still take the time to tour the showroom and perhaps be wooed by some of the cars on offer. There’s also the practical benefit of precious showroom real estate being liberated by VR test drives, with this free space potentially being used to showcase more cars.
Another intriguing aspect of VR is the potential for drivers to create their own custom ‘dream car’ and add or remove specific features as they please. For example, they can see a virtual display of how cup holders would be presented within the vehicle and tailor any such features to their own specifications. Essentially, you can create a car that’s unique to you – how cool is that!
It seems that it won’t be too much longer before using VR to build your customized ‘dream car’ in the morning and having it delivered to your door by evening is a common occurrence. The possibilities of VR are almost frightening to think about, even though the concept is still in its infancy. Whether or not it proves a lasting success, it’s hard to dispute the sense that VR will make us reconsider the way we look at the motoring industry.