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Can VR improve experience of buying a car? Jaguar Land Rover thinks so

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To improve the experience of buying a car, Jaguar Land Rover wants you to strap on a VR headset the next time you visit one of its dealers.

Shopping for a car can be an exhausting experience, but Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) thinks a little virtual reality can make it less of an ordeal.

The British automaker is experimenting with virtual reality as a way to let customers “see” new cars without having to physically open the door and plop down behind the wheel. Before the end of the month, JLR plans to ship “Virtual Reality Experience” kits to its U.S. dealers, who will use them to show customers the company’s new models.

Customers will be able to strap on a VR headset and take a virtual tour of a car, even before it goes on sale, JLR says. The program will render a life-size model of any JLR vehicle, including 360-degree views of the interior. It will also include “animations” to showcase specific technical highlights of the vehicle.

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“The VR Experience will … help retailers to break the ice with customers and inject even more fun into the process of buying our vehicles,” said Andy Goss, JLR’s sales operations director. Jaguar Land Rover is putting a lot of faith in VR to make what many people consider an arduous task more enjoyable. Consumers routinely criticize the carbuying experience in surveys.

JLR will offer the VR Experience at more than 1,500 retailers in 85 markets, encompassing 20 different languages. It tested the system during the U.K. launch of the Jaguar F-Pace, the brand’s first SUV. JLR plans to implement VR with each new vehicle launch, beginning with the 2018 Land Rover Discovery.

JLR isn’t the first carmaker to try to connect to customers via VR. Volvo has experimented with using VR at dealerships, and Cadillac is reportedly considering something similar. Ford, which uses VR for vehicle-development purposes, launched a VR app last year as a promotional tool for things like its Le Mans race program.