In the near future, car buyers may find themselves putting on the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset in order to check out an Audi vehicle in a kind of virtual showroom. That distant future is now here as car manufacturer, Audi has introduced and incorporated a virtual reality-enabled Audi Customer Private Lounge (CPL) at its Audi Centre Centurion in efforts of bringing the brand in South Africa in line with global trends, by offering an innovative, digital, retail solution which allows customers to customise the Audi of their choice into the car buying experience.
The headset, based on the Oculus Rift with a Bose sound system for support, allows users to do the typical things one would expect when shopping for a car, like comparing colours and wheel rims, as well as much more, like inspecting a projection of the interior and exterior from any angle, getting a view of what it’s like to sit inside, or experience certain demonstrations of a car’s unique features.
Audi afforded us a real experience of it’s virtual showroom to further show case the experience of interacting with a vehicle while wearing the Rift. During our session, we were able to experiment with the technology by inspecting a projection of their upcoming A1. Because the VR application presents an overlay of an object over users’ virtual reality, they can walk around and view it in real-time, too.
Audi imagines the CPL not only enhancing the car-buying experience, but also as a way to teach current and potential buyers about their new vehicles, showing them the features they might otherwise overlook. “What we’ve seen is that the CPL is not just part of the sales process, we’ve actually integrated it to become part of the holistic customer experience when they’re at the dealership” an Audi representative says.
Audi expects to roll out the CPL concept to more dealerships around South Africa within the coming years.