5 OEMs Using Virtual Reality to Change the Auto Market

When augmented and virtual reality first entered the consumer scene there was a lot of excitement behind its entertainment applications, particularly with video gaming.

But as people have grown more familiar with the product, automakers are jumping on the bandwagon to explore the use-cases for both engineering and designing, as well as how to encourage customers to engage with car brands and spur purchases.

For instance, Autotrader found last year that 88% of shoppers would not buy a car unless they took it for a test drive, according to its Car Buyer of the Future study, which surveyed 4,002 consumers.

Mobility Buzz researched some of the unique use-cases of automakers like Audi, Peugeot, and BMW, and the varying ways they are using virtual reality — from helping designers and engineers to develop cars quickly and cheaply, to allowing customers to test drive a car without leaving the comfort of their living room.

Here are five OEMs using virtual reality to shake-up the auto market:

1. BMW

The German carmaker tapped Unreal Engine’s technology to generate virtual surfaces and objects overtop 3D-printed prototype vehicle pieces.

BMW recently announced that it will be using virtual reality from Unreal Engine to generate virtual surfaces and objects overtop 3D-printed prototype vehicle pieces. This will allow BMW designers and engineers to preview how various materials or surfaces — including interior surface coverings, the size of windows, and different functions of the car — will look on a finished vehicle without having to actually make a prototype. The company stated it is the first car manufacturer to introduce a mixed reality system into vehicle deployment devised entirely from components of the computer gaming industry.

“This thereby enables more vehicle functions to be translated to a VR model in ever-more realistic fashion. It is furthermore possible to scale the system to many different developer workstations with little effort,” the company stated.

2. Audi

Meanwhile, Audi at CES this year showed off a new room-scale VR showroom experience, and starting in the second quarter of this year, select Audi dealers will let you try on an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift as part of the buying process. This differs from BMW, in that Audi is using VR for a customer-facing experience, rather than using it for design and engineering purposes. The VR experience will allow customers to customize Audi’s 52 models in any way, including color options, how different packages change the look of the car, and even allow someone to “walk” around the vehicle to see all of its fine details. Audi has been interested in VR applications for some time, in fact, with Marcus Kühne, project lead on Audi VR and Immersive technologies, as one of the original Oculus Rift DK1 Kickstarter backers.

3. Peugeot

The French automaker solicited the help of digital agency DPDK to create, “a captivating experience for the AutoRAI car fair.” In the end, the company created an interactive test drive, combining VR technology and Leap motion sensors. This enabled users to experience a virtual version of his or her own hand inside the video and navigate and discover the inside of the car by clicking virtual buttons. The agency also created a mobile app for users to experience their different models by viewing a virtual test drive on his or her smartphone with a simple cardboard headset; those without a headset could simply view the test drive in a 360-degree video.

4. Toyota

Toyota is also getting into the virtual space with an infotainment experience that is vaguely reminiscent of Grand Theft Auto. The company partnered with Los Angeles-based ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi to create four different scenarios to ensure “maximum immersion,” and soundscapes were designed to “mimic and emphasize the unexpected circumstances that the drivers found themselves thrust into.”

Toyota uses a motion tracking kit on a user, allowing for his or her hands and body to be included in the experience. Users can play with the environment and move freely. For instance, drivers can interact with the car, like steering the wheel, opening the door, pressing the horn, starting the engine, and more.

5. Mitsubishi

Last July, Mitsubishi debuted a program called MirageG4NightDrive.com, a dual-screen, interactive experience in which drivers use their phone and laptop together to test the all-new 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage G4. After entering the unique URL, the user takes control of an interactive film, using intuitive kinetic gestures to move the car through various scenes. Features like the rear-view camera, turning radius, Hill Start Assist, and MPG are highlighted.

At the conclusion, the driver is assigned a Personality Type (such as “Wallet Watcher,” “Learner’s Permit,” or “Mirage Master”), and also gets a highlight reel of their performance in the form of a shareable GIF. Mitsubishi was targeting a younger audience through its simultaneous use of a smartphone, laptop, and interactive video, according to a report.

Those interested in learning more about OEMs transforming the transportation industry, should join us at the second annual Auto Finance Innovation 2017 conference, May 17-18 at the Hilton Bayfront in San Diego. Visit www.autofinanceinnovation.com and to learn more.

2 - Readers Like This Post