Audi intros VR-enabled vehicle-buying experience

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Audi has introduced a virtual reality (VR)-enabled private lounge, which allows potential buyers to virtually customise any Audi model and virtually test-drive it.

The new Audi Customer Private Lounge (CPL), at the Audi Centre Centurion in Gauteng, consists of a 75-inch VR screen, a tablet, 3D headsets, graphics that are seen in three-dimensional and in 360-degree views, supported with light and surround sound effects.

The CPL allows for a one-to-one engagement between a customer and sales consultant in a digital environment. The VR feature provides the buyer with a detailed image of the vehicle, prior to the purchase decision.

Trevor Hill, head of Audi SA, explains digitalisation is a key part of Audi’s global corporate strategy, with the CPL being a great example.

“The CPL enables customers to digitally configure their car in great detail, by adding the vehicle colour and features of their choice through VR.

“The customer can see the vehicle in a true to life setting, without the car physically being present on the dealership floor. The additional sales process of arranging a physical test-drive would follow thereafter, where the customer would be presented with a similar model to physically experience the vehicle on the road.

“It’s a great opportunity to introduce this form of innovation and technology within the South African automotive industry.”

The traditional process of configuring or ordering a vehicle within a dealership would be done behind a computer with a sales consultant.

The Audi CPL has taken that process a step further and introduced digital elements, innovating the traditional process.

VR technology is gaining momentum in many industries and the automotive industry is no exception.

While Audi says it is the first in SA to introduce a VR service that allows buyers to customise their vehicle requirements, in 2017 Jaguar Land Rover introduced a feature that allows customers to virtually test-drive vehicles via its Web site.

An online survey conducted by Harris Poll among American consumers found 54% of respondents would prefer to buy or sell a car without leaving home, and 42% would be comfortable to buy a car online without a physical test-drive.

The research found dealerships still fail to meet the needs and expectations of customer experience of the average consumer, with 72% of respondents saying they would visit vehicle dealerships more often if the process of buying a car was improved.

Audi says it expects to roll out the CPL concept to more dealerships around SA in the coming years.    

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