AR will allow consumers to personalise and build their own cars, says Jeep

Jeep is introducing augmented reality technology across 800 of its European dealerships as it looks to make the tech a mass marketing selling tool.

Jeep has launched augmented reality (AR) technology into 800 of its European dealerships, with the automotive brand allowing consumers to trial its new Compass vehicle months before its summer release.

Visitors to Jeep dealerships are given a mobile device so they can see and interact with a life-sized virtual reality recreation of the Compass car and explore it via 360-degree camera options. External colours and wheel options can be interchanged, while the car’s doors can be opened to show off detailed interiors.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Emanuele Ranieri, head of customer experience for EMEA at Jeep-owner Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, says 80% of its dealerships have already adopted the AR technology.

He says: “The great thing about AR tech is the dealership can relocate to absolutely anywhere and it gives us flexibility in terms of opening more pop-ups to promote the Compass in targeted locations.

“It also gives the possibility for the customer to one day experience our vehicles independently without the need to visit a location or do a test drive.”

READ MORE: Are car marketers using augmented reality to replace the showroom?

The Jeep Compass Visualiser technology is based on Tango – Google’s smartphone augmented reality technology, which gives mobile devices the ability to navigate the physical world similar to how we do as humans – and will be activated within Jeep dealerships through a customised Lenovo smartphone.

Ranieri says the Tango technology is “ahead of the market” at the moment but believes the next generation of smartphones will all feature the technology, which will in turn allow AR to become a “more mass market selling tool.”

He adds: “One day you will be able to buy or test drive a Jeep or Fiat car just by sitting on your sofa with a VR headset or by projecting the car onto your smart TV.”

But even if this does become a reality, Ranieri insists Fiat Chrysler has “no plans” to shut any of its dealership locations in favour of cheaper tech alternatives. Instead it sees the future of car buying in omnichannel terms and as a mixture of physical locations and AR technology.

Jeep isn’t the first car brand to test out AR or VR technology in the dealership environment, with the likes of Ford and Skoda each doing something similar over recent years. But Ranieri says the brand is one of the first to really consider how AR will allow drivers to personalise their cars at factory stage.

He concludes: “We’re really looking into AR as an advantage in terms of personalisation. We want customers one day to be able to build a car by choosing accessories, colours or parts with their fingertips.

“You should be able to shape the car and watch as it changes in front of you. Once you’re satisfied with your customisations then that’s the car we’ll make for you. That’s the natural evolution.”

Automotive is one of the categories at this year’s Marketing Week Masters of Marketing awards, taking place on 3 October. Entries are now open. To find out more visit www.festivalofmarketing.com/awards

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Comments
  • Joanna F.E 4 Apr 2017 at 6:56 pm

    It’s interesting to see a company take such a different approach to promote their new product. Having customers being able to interact with the process and production of the Jeep can be seen as fun and engaging, ultimately a smart way to promote. Now that AR is making a big impact, Jeep is one of the first companies I have seen use it in its favor. As AR technology is becoming popular and improving, I expect to see more companies try and incorporate it into their campaigns. I wish they had shown a video demonstration of how the customers are using AR in the Jeep dealership. It wouldn’t be difficult to produce and would give others the chance to see what they could experience. By reading the article, it also seems that Jeep is thinking ahead stating that in the future customers will be able to drive or buy cars through the use of AR. I wonder why Jeep chose to keep the test of AR solely in their dealership. It does make sense to keep technology like this in the hands of dedicated customers but it also alienates those who might be interested in Jeep, but question their commitment. I’m interested in seeing other companies use AR or VR in their campaigns in the future. As for Jeep, it’s seems like a fun campaign for both their customers and themselves.

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