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.”
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.”
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