Anyone who’s played a racing video game in recent years has certainly used a good amount of that play time intricately customizing their rides, giving it a virtual walk-around, and basking in the interior details from the cockpit view before setting out for a drive. Audi wants to bring a similar experience to shoppers, allowing them to explore and configure vehicles with the Audi Virtual Reality Experience.
Using the Samsung Gear VR, an accessory that turns a Galaxy Note 4 smartphone into a virtual reality headset, the experience gives customers a way to customize and browse Audi vehicles from a first person perspective. This essentially brings a virtual show floor to the customer, and not the other way around, either being accessible from home or at a mall kiosk.
To give you an idea of how detailed the virtual reality experience is, Audi states that takes around 30 million renderings to show off every configuration of the Audi A3, including the Sportback and S3 models. Audi can even record a virtual test drive of the vehicle with one of its engineers, putting customers in the passenger seat and letting them look around while the driver explains the dynamics of the car.
This isn’t the first time Audi has dabbled in providing a virtual shopping environment. In 2012, the automaker launched Audi City in London, where customer service representatives help customers select and configure cars on various touch pads and ceiling-to-floor monitors. These are ideal for Audi to set up shop in any town where space is at a premium, forgoing the need for floorspace to accommodate show models.
Don’t think that Audi is abandoning traditional dealerships, however, as they recognize nothing beats the real thing. It’s more of a supplement to the premium car buying experience. No mention of where or when the virtual reality experience will appear, but the program has been piloted in Brazil for over a year, so we can imagine that we’ll be seeing headset setups across Europe and the U.S. sooner than later.