Women and Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in the Automotive Industry
February 24, 2021
The world is growing and expanding at a rapid rate, and the auto industry is especially at a crossroads in regard to corporate diversity and inclusion across leading brands. The expansion of women and diversity, inclusion, and equality in the automotive industry is more important than ever. Not only is the world opening up to include equality as a primary tenet for many corporate brands and entities, but consumers are also starting to demand diversity as a prerequisite. Leadership positions, branding representation, and even opportunity for investment can differ greatly for people of color – particularly women. Auto retailers are striving to change this is a major way, and some brands are leading the way when it comes to trailblazing corporate diversity and inclusion. Read on to learn more about key findings from women at the wheel in regard to diversity, equality, and inclusion in the automotive industry. Women and Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Corporate-Bias-in-the-Automotive-Industry.jpg] CORPORATE BIAS IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY Women make up just half of the general labor force, but only a quarter of the automobile industry is made up of women. Professionals in an industry can dictate the entire culture, discourse, and success of the commercial sphere as a whole. Adding more diversity into the mix is a proven way to maintain a competitive advantage by: * Reducing groupthink * Bringing a wide variety of ideas to the table * Preventing an echo chamber of similar thoughts and practices * Keeping a company fresh and progressive in virtually any industry Eliminating this gender discrepancy can completely revolutionize the automotive sphere as we know it. Giving an equal opportunity to everyone provides a path for the most talented individuals, of any demographic, to enter the doors of top auto brands. More than 90 percent of women believe that corporate bias toward men adds to the lack of diversity in the industry. Men, on the other hand, think that this trend is a result of a shortage of qualified candidates. In the past five years, there has been a major shift in the way automotive professionals think in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the car business. But, women participating in these studies suggest that there is still a lot of catching up to do. Women and Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Progressive-Innovation.jpg] PROGRESSIVE INNOVATION, SCALABILITY, AND GROWTH As it stands, auto brands have been overwhelmingly male and are still struggling to attract women to this growing but stigmatized industry. According to Tesla’s recent report on diversity and inclusion, even electric brands are behind the times. Additionally, this discrepancy is a major reason why many women who are currently in the auto industry would change spheres if given the chance to start again. Additionally, almost two-thirds of women in automotive express a lack of diversity and inclusion as the main reason why they don’t want a career in the industry to begin with. This lack of talent inclusion has led to a lack of innovation and growth among many leading brands. In comparison, brands that show a value of diversity and inclusion typically offer better: * Work/life balance * Promotion opportunities * Growth potential * Perks and benefits Along with that, those who work in more equitable organizations can experience a faster path toward creative development, innovation, and overall scalability as a whole. Women and Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Diversity-and-Employee-Inclusivity-in-Automotive.jpg] DIVERSITY AND EMPLOYEE INCLUSIVITY IN AUTOMOTIVE Changing up the internal structure of an organization doesn’t just affect the people who work there. Customers and potential clients can carry a heavy opinion of inequitable brands, and this can affect those brands’ bottom lines in a big way. Inclusion and diversity in automotive workplaces is not a “benefit” or “perk,” but rather a fundamental tenet upon which an entire company is built and organized. Additionally, there are multiple strata used to explain each level, and how valuable these pillars are for new applicants and current employees. Corporate social responsibility is a major buzzword in 2021, and the impact of systemic racism and discrimination in recent events has brought this issue to the attention of mainstream consumers. From civil rights to social justice to brand recognition, exclusivity poses a risk to the integrity and growth of both large and established brands. More than 86% of the youngest members of the employment pool cite a clear commitment to workplace diversity would impact their decision to work with a certain company – or apply for certain roles within that organization. While at least a quarter of the men who participated in this recent report didn’t cite inclusivity as an important aspect of the modern workplace, the majority understood the value of diversity in regard to decision-making and growth over time. Women and Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Customer-Perspectives-Regarding-Automotive-Diversity.jpg] CUSTOMER PERSPECTIVES REGARDING AUTOMOTIVE DIVERSITY Inclusivity in the automotive industry isn’t just directed at attracting, maintaining, and supporting current workers and staff within top car brands. This critical piece of any company’s mission can also impact the way consumers view their brand, services, and products. Simply put, the world is valuing equality more than ever before – and this is playing a huge role in customer decision making. Whether they’re shopping for an alternative energy vehicle, fully electric, or a standard gas-powered 4X4, customers are more inclined to shop from brands that align with their own personal values. A recent study by the Center for Talent Innovation found that diverse companies are 45% more likely to increase their market share on a year over year basis. This metric covers a variety of factors, including: * Two-dimensional diversity: Ex. Gender identity and work experience * Inherent traits: Gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. * Acquired traits: Experience, innovation, professional status, etc. Diversity stems from a wide range of criteria that, when applied congruently, can create a completely new and innovative corporate culture – and customers notice these changes more than brands might expect. Across virtually every commercial industry, there is a positive relationship between diversity and customer retention. Promoting inclusivity is one of the easiest and most effective ways to boost consumer engagement and sales conversions. LEADERSHIP DECISIONS DEFINE CORPORATE CULTURE The people who run a company have a lot of power over the growth and future of that company’s culture, customer satisfaction rate, and overall reputation. As a result, prioritizing a diverse workforce can reflect positively on that company’s leadership – as well as the organization as a whole. Everything from the dress code to promotional benefits to employee turnover is impacted by the integrity of a company’s business culture. These facets of any organization are also incredibly influenced by who works there. Including more women and people of color into the leadership tiers of these top automotive brands is the first step toward recreating a previously exclusive corporate sphere. Leadership defines the corporate structure, and the workforce responds to those pillars and standards in kind. Opening up the manufacturing, design, and even merchandising facets of the auto industry to everyone is an essential component that is driving consumer interest, talent retention, and innovation over time. As with any expanding industry, it’s always important to read the room. Today, the workforce and consumer sphere at large is tired of putting up with homogenous and exclusive organizations that don’t represent the contemporary world as a whole. The automotive market is no different, and the intersection of technology, innovation, and growth is brewing the perfect environment for a major cultural shift. General Motors and Toyota are two of the brands that are spearheading this change in the commercial dynamic, and the rest of the automotive industry needs to take note fast. The more we’re learning about each other and who makes up the world around us, the more consumers are paying attention to the brands and companies they’re spending money on. Employees are also taking notice, and this is having the largest impact on the companies that are currently leading the automotive market. By facilitating an inclusive and open workspace, auto brands can also open their potential worker pool to the best talent across all demographics. Limiting commercial talent to certain groups, in short, will only harm the brand in the long run. As brands across the entire online and physical marketplace adapt to these long-overdue societal and cultural changes, their bottom line, reputation, and recognition as a whole are showing the effects. When it comes to the companies that are still behind the curve, the market is reaching a now-or-never point of no return. These are just a few of the aspects that are driving inclusivity and diversity initiatives throughout the automotive industry. Women and people of color are starting to show a higher interest in this growing sphere, and this is a direct result of these values being applied internally from the top down. Stay tuned with your favorite leading auto manufacturers to see the wave take over, or watch brands that don’t get on board get left in the dust.
Auto Brands Like Audi are Using Augmented Reality for Streamlined Logistics Planning
February 12, 2021
In 2020, many industries saw a significant increase of remote interconnectivity and seamless integration to keep businesses running while much of the country was stuck at home. This same pattern of growth took over the auto industry, and many brands jumped on the bandwagon to increase productivity, boost revenue, and reduce costs across the board. Using augmented reality solutions, Audi is one of the leaders in the industry that has applied the innovative technology to help logistics professionals execute plans efficiently – independent of their physical location. Eliminating the need for physical workspaces and equipment has been used by Audi to improve product accuracy, cut the need for costly adjustments to physical models, and promote fast innovation across the entire enterprise. Read on to learn more about how Audi is using augmented reality to increase efficiency in logistics planning. Auto Brands Like Audi are Using Augemented Reality for Streamlined Logistics Planning [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Audi-are-Using-Augemented-Reality2.jpg] INCREASED PLANNING EFFICIENCY In addition to saving time, augmented reality is effectively making the automotive workplace safer for everyone involved. Particularly among the logistics team, the application of augmented reality in logistics has led to a reduction in errors over the length of a typical workday by more than 33% among top auto retailers. By using digital, cloud-enabled files and data, users are able to see each other’s changes and edits in real time. This allows multiple people to work on the same virtual asset, without losing work hours and money as a result of the standard downtime. Audi, in particular, has taken AR auto technology and ran with it in a huge way. Augmented reality has given off site workers a hands-on way to visualize and assess three-dimensional digital products with a higher level of detail and scrutiny than clay, polymer, or plastic renders. Additionally, adding realistic tactile elements with the help of inexpensive and accessible wearable equipment allows individual technicians to pick up, rotate, move, or replace fragmental or whole parts of the product sample without a hitch in their workflow. Since digital testing removes the need to remake, rebuild, and adjust physical products, logistics teams are able to make changes in less time. This has expanded the ability for additional technicians and decision makers to enter the logistic chain with ease, while giving individual specialists more input throughout the entire development process. Auto Brands Like Audi are Using Augemented Reality for Streamlined Logistics Planning [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Audi-are-Using-Augemented-Reality3.jpg] REDUCED REDUNDANCIES While logistics structures are built around the idea of efficiency and resource maximization, no analog functions are immune to redundancy – and this goes for virtually every workplace environment. Using digital tools like augmented reality provides workers with a higher level of reporting and data generation based on the manipulation of virtual renders. By tracking the lifecycle of logistics objectives, augmented reality systems have helped auto brands to shave hours from each respective employee’s weekly workloads. Once repetitive or unnecessary tasks have been removed from the workflow, it’s easier and more practical for logistics technicians to apply their efforts elsewhere throughout the production chain. This has the potential to lead to improved accuracy rates, faster product innovation, and even improved employee satisfaction among participating brands. This use of augmented reality technology has shown that digitization can be used as a powerful tool for business growth and longevity. As Audi has shown, building an auto brand in the same vein as such an influential tech development will produce an enterprise that can stand the test of time AND innovation standards across the industry as whole. Auto Brands Like Audi are Using Augemented Reality for Streamlined Logistics Planning [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Audi-are-Using-Augemented-Reality4.jpg] COST-EFFECTIVE MODELING AND TESTING Traditionally, auto manufacturers have relied on models and prototypes to handle a wide range of review criteria. Common uses for physical, and often expensive, work samples include: * Design layout * Functionality testing * Safety review * Bug identification * Future planning based on corrections By eliminating the need for an actual product to conduct these tests, auto manufacturers are able to save millions throughout the initiation and execution of new models. Simulators have proven to be the preferred method of product testing and design generation during the pandemic, but the ease of use has shown why this trend is becoming established as a staple in the industry. Opening up the modeling and testing processes into the digital sphere gives auto brands more bandwidth and creative leeway to develop more models and produce vehicles much quicker than traditional testing methods. Wearable technology like smart glasses and visual assistance utilizes augmented reality by applying digital elements over the user’s direct line of sight. This is another method that gives specialists a closer look at interior and exterior elements of the car, at the level of the detail they need to get the job done. Audi has shown the efficacy of these methods by applying augmented reality throughout the manufacturing process. Boosting the research and development lifecycle with readily available digital tools is set to become a standard, and not simply a trend, throughout the entire industry. IMPROVED ACCURACY AND PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT Working on an expensive physical model of a large product like a motor vehicle comes with its own set of challenges and pitfalls. The auto industry has maintained a significant error margin over the years, with recalls continuing to pepper this field on a regular basis. What if it was easier to prevent bugs and errors in the very beginning? Just like a digital twin of the product in question, these augmented reality models can be easily understood on the user’s terms. This means that logistics professionals can comb through every element of a prototype with a higher level of detail than ever before. Augmented reality as a virtual tool emphasizes the need for precise measurements, which can be accurately projected on a screen, through a headset, or holographically onto a physical surface. This level of detail can be applied to all aspects of the supply chain, including containers, workspaces, accessories, and more. Since it’s fully digital, augmented reality as a manufacturing technique is completely scalable, portable, and applicable anywhere there is a connected network and property authorization from the retailer. Since there are no physical products to transport and maintain, this aspect of the planning process can relieve a considerable amount of stress from workers throughout the entire car making process. Auto Brands Like Audi are Using Augemented Reality for Streamlined Logistics Planning [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Audi-are-Using-Augemented-Reality5.jpg] MULTI-DEVICE SYNCHRONIZATION Working remotely means communicating with internal and external teams without the nuance of face-to-face collaboration. However, traditional digital tools limit the ability for multiple individuals to work together seamlessly from separate networks and devices. Augmented reality bridges the gap, and allows logistics professionals to work better together in a shorter amount of time. Using multi-device synchronization, augmented reality has the potential to transform the online workplace as we’ve known it. This capability allows specialists along the logistics chain to access digital information from their respective connected devices, streamlining the workday for all levels of management and staff. Since all of the elements of the production process are stored remotely via cloud-based database systems, multiple users are able to access the same assets simultaneously. This method is more flexible, and much faster than limiting each phase of the testing, design, and initiation processes to a small team of in-house technicians. Opening up the logistics and planning processes to all necessary parties gives more people input and decision-making power throughout the supply chain. As we’ve seen with AR/VR tech over the last few years, this change alone has the potential to transform the culture and overall success of even the largest auto brands. Auto Brands Like Audi are Using Augmented Reality for Streamlined Logistics Planning [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Audi-are-Using-Augemented-Reality.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY FOR SPACE-SAVING PRODUCTION The use of mixed reality can also be applied to maximize the amount of space available for each individual employee. Those who are working in smaller or shared home office locations are able to project their workstation onto an area of their choice using certain add ons. CAD design data, presentations, and even live communications can be projected onto a desk or table top using holographic imaging. Rather than working through a headset, this option opens up creative opportunities for all technicians – no matter where they’re working. Eliminating the need for a spacious group setting is another aspect of augmented reality use that is reducing costs for automotive companies and employees alike. While augmented reality has been a mainstay in the auto industry for a few years now, Audi has taken the reins by applying this immersive technology to the logistics sphere. Using virtual car configurator, digital render manipulation, and other remote development tools is connecting at-home and in-office specialists like never before. Whether you’re in the market for a new car or you’re interested in the growth of this groundbreaking technology, Audi has solidified its place on the tech map for the foreseeable future. The growth of immersive imaging and the development of AR/VR technology in the auto industry is set to keep the industry growing rapidly, while expelling common costs at the same time.
Nissan Shifts to Digital to Adjust to Post-Pandemic World
February 8, 2021
The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has completely disrupted the global economy. The economic effects of the pandemic can be felt in nearly every sector, including the automotive industry. In this industry, the global health crisis has led to supply chain interruptions, assembly plant closures, production delays, and ultimately, lower automotive sales. But now that vaccines are being distributed, the automotive industry must focus on planning for a post-pandemic world. One automotive manufacturer that is already adapting to the changing times is Nissan. It was recently reported that Nissan informed its board that the company was building a “complete, end-to-end digital journey” that would allow automotive consumers to purchase vehicles online. What will this shopping experience look like? How will consumers respond? Here’s what you need to know about Nissan’s bold shift in strategy: THE EVOLUTION OF THE AUTOMOTIVE CONSUMER’S BUYING JOURNEY The way in which the average automotive consumer shops for a vehicle has drastically changed over the years. In the past, consumers who were interested in purchasing a new vehicle started their buying journey by visiting local dealerships. During these visits, consumers would learn about different vehicles, compare and contrast models, ask questions, take test drives, and discuss pricing and financing. They worked one-on-one with sales representatives at local dealerships and had the opportunity to explore vehicles in person. They wouldn’t limit themselves to one dealership, either. The average automotive consumer used to visit five dealerships before making a purchase decision. Visiting multiple dealerships would help consumers gather as much information as possible before deciding which vehicle to purchase. The entire buying journey—from conducting research to completing the transaction—took place inside local dealerships. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Nissan-Shifts-to-Digital2.jpg] But now, times have changed. Today’s automotive consumers typically start their buying journey online, where they conduct research, compare and contrast models, and look up information on local dealerships. In fact, Google estimates that twice as many automotive consumers start the car buying process online instead of in a dealership. They complete the information gathering stage of the buying process online, so they don’t need to visit as many dealerships before making a purchase decision. Now, the average consumer only visits two dealerships before purchasing a vehicle. Even when today’s consumers visit dealerships, they use their smartphones to connect to the internet for real-time advice and information. As they walk through the showroom, they may look up prices at other dealerships located nearby to make sure they are getting the best deal. This means the buying journey for the average automotive consumer now occurs in two places: online and in dealerships. HOW COVID-19 AFFECTED THE AUTOMOTIVE CONSUMER’S BUYING JOURNEY The automotive consumer’s buying journey shifted further into the digital world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is primarily because many consumers are still hesitant to visit automotive dealerships in person due to the risk of contracting COVID-19. These concerns have led to a rise in demand for online vehicle sales. McKinsey recently surveyed automotive consumers on their attitudes toward shopping for and buying a new vehicle. Forty-five percent of U.S. consumers surveyed said that they purchased their last vehicle in-person at a dealership. But only 35% of U.S. consumers surveyed say that they plan on purchasing their next vehicle in-person at a dealership. Nissan Shifts to Digital to Adjust to Post-Pandemic World [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Nissan-Shifts-to-Digital3.jpg] The survey revealed that 38% of U.S. consumers plan on purchasing their next vehicle via an app or website. Another 27% of these consumers intend on completing their purchase over the phone or through email. Based on this data, it is clear that automotive consumers prefer shopping online for a vehicle over shopping for a vehicle at a dealership. This preference for online vehicle sales was strongest among the youngest consumers surveyed. Less than one-third of these consumers want to buy a vehicle in-person at a dealership. Instead, this demographic would like to complete the entire process either online, over the phone, or via email. This results of this survey also revealed that today’s consumers expect automotive companies to offer a digital buying experience that is equivalent to the in-person buying experience. For example, the respondents showed a very strong interest in contactless services such as virtual test drives and home car deliveries. About half of the respondents even indicated that they were willing to pay more for these services in order to avoid making a trip to a dealership. The fact that these consumers are willing to pay more for a positive digital buying experience shows how strongly they feel about this issue. HOW IS NISSAN RESPONDING TO THE SHIFT IN CONSUMER BEHAVIOR? The message from consumers couldn’t be clearer: they want the option to buy a vehicle online. At least one automotive manufacturer is listening to these consumers. During a board meeting last year, a board member asked Nissan’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Ashwani Gupta what the company was planning on doing to address consumers’ hesitancy to visit showrooms in-person. Gupta informed the board that the company was in the process of creating a “complete, end-to-end digital journey” for consumers who were interested in purchasing a vehicle online. He explained that this would allow consumers to conduct research, compare models, schedule at-home test drives in vehicles delivered directly from a local dealership, and complete their purchase all from the comfort of their home. In other words, it would eliminate the need to visit a Nissan dealership in person to purchase a vehicle. Gupta acknowledged that the decision to create this digital buying experience was made with the post-pandemic world in mind. He explained that the shift in consumer behavior caused by the pandemic will not disappear once the global health crisis has been resolved. Instead, he believes that they will become permanent, meaning consumers will continue to prefer shopping online for vehicles even when it is safe to visit dealerships in person. This doesn’t mean that consumers won’t be able to purchase a Nissan vehicle in-person at a dealership. The manufacturer will still offer in-person dealership sales, but now consumers will also have the option of purchasing a vehicle online if that’s what they prefer. Nissan Shifts to Digital to Adjust to Post-Pandemic World [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Nissan-Shifts-to-Digital.jpg] THE BENEFITS OF CREATING A DIGITAL SHOPPING EXPERIENCE FOR AUTOMOTIVE CONSUMERS Nissan could benefit from creating a digital shopping experience for automotive consumers in a number of ways. The most obvious benefit is that this digital shopping experience will allow Nissan to target consumers who prefer shopping online as opposed to at a dealership. There are still a lot of automotive manufacturers who don’t offer online sales, so for now, Nissan has the opportunity to sell to these consumers without much competition. The shift to online sales also benefits Nissan from a profitability angle, according to two sources who spoke to the media. These sources revealed that building this digital platform would drastically reduce Nissan’s operational and marketing expenses. It would also give the automotive manufacturer the chance to gather more data on consumers who are shopping for vehicles online. This data could help Nissan gain a deeper understanding of their target audience so they can finetune their marketing strategies to better meet these consumers’ needs in the future. Shifting to online sales also ensures that Nissan customers won’t be limited to purchasing the vehicles that are in-stock at their local dealership. The automotive manufacturer will allow online customers to search inventories from all Nissan stories in a specific area. Since online customers won’t be limited to searching through a single store’s inventory, they will have a better chance at finding the vehicle they want. THE CHALLENGES OF CREATING A DIGITAL SHOPPING EXPERIENCE FOR AUTOMOTIVE CONSUMERS There are certainly benefits to launching a new digital shopping experience for automotive consumers. But Nissan will also face a number of challenges when implementing this new strategy. Nissan will likely face some resistance from franchise dealers, who typically rely on the standard showroom strategy to sell to automotive consumers. Moving to the digital world—in addition to offering contactless services for digital consumers—is a big jump for these dealers. Nissan must be willing to work closely with them to help them see the benefits in this strategy shift and successfully adjust to the changes. However, sales representatives typically work on commission, so they may view this shift to digital sales as a threat to their livelihoods since it may lead to fewer in-person sales. Nissan must also be willing to invest in the technologies to build this digital platform for consumers. Certain technologies, such as virtual reality and augmented reality, can greatly enhance the online shopping experience for consumers. For example, virtual reality technology can provide consumers with the opportunity to take virtual test drives. Augmented reality, on the other hand, can be used to help consumers explore the interior and exterior of a vehicle without ever leaving their home. Investing in these technologies could help Nissan stand out among other competitors who are also shifting to digital sales. There’s no question that digital sales will play an important role in the future of the automotive industry. Even though shifting to digital sales presents certain challenges, it’s safe to say that many other automotive manufacturers will follow Nissan’s lead to create a unique digital buying experience for their consumers. This shift to the digital world doesn’t spell death for the automotive dealership. But dealers must work with manufacturers to understand their new role in the ever changing automotive industry.
Tech Features are Shifting How We Drive
February 3, 2021
The daily drive doesn’t look anything like it did a few decades ago. Cars have relied on computer technology for years, as these chips began to serve as a mechanical brain for the automobile. However, digital has wired beyond the hood and served to elevate the entertainment value and joy of the driving experience. Tech features are shifting how we drive. Gone are the days of plugging a portable compact disc player into the lighter. Or popping a cassette into the standard radio. Now we use phones to stream music. And the vehicle can sync to devices and send messages or make calls. Here’s a look at the digital features that enhance the driving experience and what may come next. AUGMENTED REALITY Learning to drive back in the ‘80s and ‘90s meant that young drivers had to master backing into parking spaces and parallel parking. Drivers looked over their shoulders to pinpoint their proximity to other vehicles. The turning radius had to be just right to angle into the parking spot between cones or two cars. For some drivers, these lessons were simple. Years later, some still avoid the dreaded parallel parking space. Or maybe they don’t need to avoid anything! If drivers who are not-so-savvy with their parking still struggle, they may rely on augmented reality features built into their vehicles. Back-up cameras and cameras positioned in the front end of the vehicle provide an eagle-eye view of every vantage point while navigating tight parking spaces. Instead of turning to look behind them and then checking the front end, drivers now can just look at their camera screens. These screens show the actual environment (e.g. parking space) and include digitized grid lines that illustrate the turning radius of the vehicle. These features allow the driver to see the exact positioning of the vehicle. Even better? Some newer models are even equipped with automatic parking features. The driver doesn’t have to do anything! The car’s sensors judge the proximity of other vehicles and understand exactly how to navigate the space. Worried that the vehicle is too close to another vehicle while parking? Today’s models also may have warning sounds that signal when an obstacle is about to be hit. Typically, these signals emit rapid beeps to alert the driver to stop. HIGH-TECH ENTERTAINMENT FEATURES Backup and front-end cameras may help drivers reduce accidents and fender benders, allowing the driving experience (and especially the parking experience) to be a bit less stressful. However, advanced technology features wire into the entertainment hub of the vehicle, adding more ways for the driver to relax and enjoy the commute. As the smartphone has become the standard communication device for many, the automobile industry has equipped many vehicle models to sync to this ubiquitous technology. The entertainment hub in the car is no longer just a tape deck, radio, or CD player. That’s prehistoric! Today’s models may be fully decked, dressed to the digital nines! Stereos feature digital touch screens and USB ports that allow devices to connect to the entertainment console of the vehicle. These smart entertainment systems allow drivers to stream music, send/receive phone calls or even send text messages…hands-free. Entertainment features in newer vehicles also serve to make long road trips much more enjoyable for both kids…and parents. While mom and dad can stream music or listen to podcasts, some vehicles also feature television screens in the back seats, allowing children to watch their favorite movies or shows. The days of playing “I Spy” or having children bring books or portable board games have been displaced by the wired world of technology. Kids also can plug in their own phones or tablets right in the backseat! Tech Features are Shifting How We Drive [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Tech-Features-are-Shifting2.jpg] TECHNOLOGY SIMPLIFIES THE HANDHELD MAP, TOO Long road trips or family vacations cross-country also once relied on handheld maps. Those large, bulky, and very difficult to refold handheld maps were the standard for navigating the roads. However, they were also quite cumbersome, and, if the passenger wasn’t adept at reading all those lines of highways, streets, and landmarks, also might have led to a few drivers heading in the wrong direction. As smartphones can plug into the entertainment console of the vehicle, drivers also can utilize the GPS features in smartphones to help them navigate new cities or to drive from one destination to another. Instead of asking the passenger to provide step by step directions, the GPS assistant verbally provides commands that prompt the driver about where to turn next. Or when the next exit is approaching. These GPS functions may reduce the stress that drivers feel when trying to navigate a new city and may empower less adventurous drivers to explore unfamiliar areas…or even pursue a long road trip. When the fear of getting lost is minimized, the driving experience can become a much more relaxing adventure. Tech Features are Shifting How We Drive [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Tech-Features-are-Shifting.jpg] THE FUTURE OF VEHICLE TECHNOLOGY While cameras and entertainment hubs add to the safety and enjoyment of the drive time, these features are ever-evolving. The future of in-vehicle technology may depend on the manufacturer and its own enterprising ingenuity. Mercedes-Benz recently made the news with the announcement of its MBUX Hyperscreen. This massive digital hub is equipped with artificial intelligence (AI). Per Mercedes-Benz “…with software capable of learning, the display, and operating concept adapts completely to its user and makes personalized suggestions for numerous infotainment, comfort and vehicle functions.” This could represent the future of what digital entertainment looks like within the vehicle. Will other manufacturers create their own concept, with the aid of AI? Perhaps the real future of digitized technology within the automotive sector is, in fact, the self-driving car. Fully autonomous, the vehicle would provide hands-free driving experiences and take the driver into the passenger seat. There are numerous companies looking to delve into this sector, and the future could very much lead to a world where no one drives. How would a self-driving car take shape? Again, the model—including design and features—may depend on the manufacturer. Perhaps the driver would still sit in the driver’s seat but set the vehicle to self-navigate. Perhaps there is no driver’s seat. Maybe the steering wheel even becomes obsolete? As these vehicles are developed and prototypes are designed, the safety features would have to be designed flawlessly, ensuring no room for error. Would steering wheels be provided in case of a malfunction and the driver needs to self-navigate? The questions related to the actual mechanics and design of these vehicles is very much up in the air. Eventually, vehicles could include avatars that serve as virtual passengers. These virtual companions are already in development; Nissan’s Invisible-to-Visible Technology is developing a way for avatars to join the drive via the “Metaverse.” These virtual friends or family could ensure that solo drivers don’t feel so lonely during a long drive. Nissan’s developing technology also would allow for windows to project a blue sky on windows during dreary days. Rolls Royce has already included its own captivating illusion of the sky, however. Certain models include fiber-optic stars that light up the ceiling of the vehicle, creating a starry ambiance. This feature can be customized, too…including the colors of the stars. ENJOYING THE CURRENT TECH Many drivers might not fully appreciate or understand the features and benefits of the technology offered in their vehicles. This is where the user experience might be hindered. Touch-screen radios are simple, but there could be more beyond that digital screen. Some buyers might have been overwhelmed when all the features and benefits of their car were explained upon purchase, but it’s important to understand all that the vehicle has to offer. The dashboard often contains numerous screens that provide the vehicle’s mechanical data, but navigating these screens might take a bit of training. For drivers who recently invested in a new vehicle that offers all the latest and greatest digital features, it may take a while to navigate and become familiar with all the options and features. This is where the vehicle’s handbook becomes a valuable tool. Sales professionals at dealerships may spend hours each day going over all the mechanics and cool entertainment features, but new drivers may find this information going in one ear and out the other. When in doubt about any feature or how to access a tech function, check out the handbook. While the guide was once just a resource for simple functions (like how to turn off the oil light), now these thick books may be the trusted resource on how to figure out all the latest and greatest tech features. While the future may point to highways filled with traffic driven autonomously by AI, the self-driving car is still in development. However, technology is wired throughout vehicles, enhancing safety features and entertainment options. Paper maps are often tossed aside for the digital GPS functions that phones can sync into the car’s display. Backup and front-end cameras simplify the task of parking, perhaps minimizing the risk for fender benders. And, of course, tablets and smartphones sync into the vehicle to allow drivers to stream music and make calls (hands-free). Even kids can enjoy the high-tech offerings of new vehicles, as they watch movies in the back seat via video screens and plug in their own devices. Manufacturers like Nissan are working on more advanced technological features that could allow for avatars to join the ride. The future may be autonomous, but the present is, without a doubt, high-tech.
Disruption in the Automotive Industry – Part 3
December 16, 2020
Disruption in the Automotive Industry – Part 1 Disruption in the Automotive Industry – Part 2 Two or more cars per household isn’t unusual. One for each working parent, and maybe another car for newly licensed teens. In the past, though, when only one person needed to work outside the home (and, typically, that was the man), one car was standard. In older homes, one car garages might still be found as a remnant of this bygone era. Now, though, new trends are emerging that could take households back to one…or no cars. Could carsharing change the automotive industry, lowering demand in some ways but increasing it in others? In a report titled “Disruptive trends that will transform the auto industry,” McKinsey noted that “Consumer mobility behavior is changing, leading to up to one out of ten cars sold in 2030 potentially being a shared vehicle and the subsequent rise of a market for fit-for-purpose mobility solutions.” What is carsharing? It’s just what it sounds like…sharing a car. It’s not quite a rental service but an on-demand service. Just like you can rent high-end garments for a special affair, car sharing services let you rent a car hourly or maybe for the entire day. And the price is a mere fraction of a typical car payment. One particular carshare company charges less than $100 per month, and the price for membership includes gas, a designated mileage per day and secondary insurance. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-187.jpeg] WHO WANTS TO SHARE A CAR? With most households owning or leasing some type of vehicle, the family car is a bit of an American tradition. In fact, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported that only eight percent of households didn’t have a vehicle. With the exception of big cities like New York City where walking and public transport can get you pretty much anywhere, suburbanites rely on their cars for daily errands and daily commutes to work. While the BTS also noted that nearly 90 percent of individuals ages 15 and up were “reported as drivers,” this trend may be changing. According to data from McKinsey, the prevalence of licensed drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 years declined five percent–76 percent (in 2000) to 71 percent (2013). Younger people may be eschewing the traditional driver’s license and the car. And perhaps public transportation or carsharing may be the new preference. E-HAILING: THE NEW TRANSPORT TREND? E-hailing is the trend of ordering transport via a mobile device; this could mean virtually hailing a taxi, a rideshare, a carshare service, a limo…whatever. Today’s consumers have many options for transportation beyond the bus, subway or personal vehicle. This e-hailing trend, though, may disrupt the industry in some ways (perhaps by decreasing demand for personal car sales) but increase other types of auto demand. McKinsey noted that the rise of e-hailing opens up the potential for the demand of a new type of vehicle, one made for high miles and the purpose of multiple passengers or drivers. CARSHARING AND CHOICE The idea of new types of cars popping up to cater to a growing market also points to another unique feature of carsharing: choice. When consumers buy a car, they usually keep it for several years. While some trade-in for a new model before the old loan expires, others wait to pay off the loan and then upgrade. Or maybe families drive the car for a decade or until it just won’t run. With buying, though, that car becomes a fixture in the daily life of the owner. A car isn’t like clothes. Most consumers don’t have unlimited financial means to have a 30-car garage filled with different driving options. With a carsharing membership, though, choice does become an option. The service may provide a list of different options, like a car menu. The member gets to choose the car they want to drive for the hour or the day. One day you may be in a Ford, tomorrow a Jeep. Carsharing also means less upkeep. Although members or users of the service should clean the car after use, there isn’t the same upkeep for the service as there would be with an owned car. Oil changes, new tires and all the obligations of upkeep aren’t there with a carshare membership. CURRENT CAR BUYING TRENDS Covid pushed the automotive industry online, as many Americans stayed home and avoided crowds. Online virtual showrooms became more common to allow potential buyers to see car inventory, including new models. McKinsey reported that U.S. car sales dropped nearly 50 percent in April during Covid; Europe took a more substantial hit in April when car sales fell 80 percent. Online experiences had to try to mimic the dealership experience. This meant that not only were virtual showrooms common, but many dealerships offered virtual test drives, too. Potential buyers could see cars driven via YouTube; scheduling a test drive also was common, and cars were delivered to the potential buyer for the test drive. Even financing could be done online. While the virtual experiences couldn’t completely replicate the in-person experience of the dealership, many dealerships likely did their best to try to create a unique experience for online shoppers. In early November, Car and Driver reported that car sales for the month of October showed that the industry was still slowly recovering. While many manufacturers showed a decrease in sales in October, there were also gains. For example, Car and Driver explained that although Ford’s October sales were down more than five percent, Lincoln (the high-end branch of Ford) had nearly a three percent increase in sales (2.8 percent) CARSHARING AND COVID During Covid, most Americans were avoiding crowds and contact with strangers. They were masking up. They limited trips. These behaviors are continuing as Covid continues to flare up across the U.S. and elsewhere. Limited trips may continue, too. And this may influence transportation choices. In a press release, GlobalData predicted that Covid may actually boost carsharing services because people are driving less. The takeaway is that there may be less of a pull to go out and buy a new vehicle if you don’t plan to use it often. Yasha Kuruvilla, an insurance analyst for GlobalData, said in a press release that these services also could face some issues because of Covid: Customers must be confident that the cars are properly cleaned and sanitized after each use. And with the global community now more aware of health risks, vehicle owners may face increased premiums as insurers look to protect themselves from liability claims should someone contract an illness while using the service. While insurance may increase for these owners, individuals who own a private car might have seen their auto insurance drop during Covid. Many drivers were hitting the road less often, and this could have been seen as a decreased risk for those insurers. Although not all drivers might enjoy a drop, as insurance costs (and the risks insurers weigh) are far more complicated than just a virus decreasing mileage. WILL CAR BUYING BE AN OLD TREND? While carsharing is on the rise, families may still prefer owning a car. How the trend moves is a guess. Younger people could continue to move away from the driving trend or maybe just prefer to carshare. Having a family, though, also could influence the need for car ownership. The older generations who were raised with cars and the tradition of getting a license may prefer to own a car, too. Maybe some may gravitate toward carsharing. Of course, location also may influence car ownership. Those living in big cities may prefer e-hailing to ownership. With limited space, owning a car may be more of a hassle. Maybe car buying never goes out of style? Even if carsharing really explodes, McKinsey’s predictions might be right on the mark as they relate the possible emergence for a new type of car. Manufacturers could cater to this industry with new products and features. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-188.jpeg] WHAT ABOUT PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION? Carsharing may be seen as an emerging trend that may disrupt the industry, but what about public transportation? Is the use of trains, subways and busses going up? During Covid, there might have been a fear of crowded spaces—with good reason. People wanted to limit exposure. Just like many people may be driving less (thanks to working from home), public transportation also has seen a drop in riders. NPR reported that New York’s subway ridership was down to a mere fraction of what it was before Covid. The low ridership could reflect two truths of Covid: few people were commuting, and many were scared and wanted to avoid crowds. MIT Medical Services answered the question about the safety of public transportation for an individual who typically biked to school and didn’t have a car and who also wasn’t looking forward to riding that bike during colder weather. MIT noted that “MBTA ridership is also much lower than usual now — less than 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels throughout the system.” That decrease is important, because, as MIT noted in its response, it allows people to distance. The safety takeaway related to the “T” was that MIT positioned it as less safe than walking or biking but not as unsafe as the gym or a restaurant. Were people ditching cars for the public transport? During Covid, most individuals were probably not choosing public transport if they owned a car. Although when Covid subsides, it could be interesting to analyze ridership trends. Going back to McKinsey’s report, driver’s licenses are decreasing among the younger set. So could public transport go up, too? It might be interesting to see if different types of alternative transport affect the auto industry. While those living in big cities may prefer public transport or even carsharing, young suburbanites may be an interesting group to watch.
Disruption in the Automotive Industry – Part 2
December 14, 2020
Disruption in the Automotive Industry – Part 1 Disruption in the Automotive Industry – Part 3 For generations, consumers have driven cars fueled by gasoline. Fossil fuels drive our highways and byways, and, of course, our automobiles. Yet, as more consumers may be looking at cleaner, greener vehicles, alternatives to ‘gassing up’ have come with a plug. The electric car and perhaps by a greater extension the self-driving car could possibly disrupt the status quo of the auto industry. Tesla is perhaps the leader in electric-powered vehicles, or, rather, one of the most sought after brands of electric cars. Other industry leaders have introduced their own electric models, knowing that the plug may be the fuel of the future. What does this electrifying trend mean for the industry as a whole, though? Will gasoline evaporate from use? Will fossil fuel be an obsolete dirty secret of the past? Or is electric yet another passing trend? Let’s plug into how electric automobiles and their self-driving futuristic possible prototypes may take the industry into the future! WHY ELECTRICITY IS SO DESIRABLE The issue of air quality has been on the radar for years—possibly generations. One of the contributors to poor air quality or air pollution is the cars that we drive. While one single car might not necessarily disastrously affect the climate by itself, the issue is the number of cars on the road. Every day, many Americans—probably millions—hit the highways to commute to work. Traffic jams plug up the roads. Cars sit idle. And nitrogen from our cars creeps into the atmosphere. It is, in fact, nitrogen that is causing such havoc. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, cars emit nitrogen in the form of nitrogen oxide, although, per the EPA, fossil fuels also can release ammonia, which is another form of nitrogen. Why is nitrogen so bad for the air? When nitrogen oxide is released, it can contribute to acid rain…and smog. This is, of course, the hazy cloud that many people see that looks a bit like dirty fog. Smog can be damaging to the lungs and irritate the eyes. Carpooling and decreasing menial trips can lower an individual’s impact from driving; this impact is part of our ‘carbon footprint.’ Yet, while individuals and families can decrease their own footprint, others have to do the same to make a meaningful difference. Many cities offer signs along the highway warning of air quality, and this may help drivers understand the days where carpooling could be beneficial. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-183.jpeg] THE ELECTRIFYING HISTORY OF ELECTRIC CARS Through the years, the public has become more aware of these environmental concerns, and many desired an alternative to the fossil-fueled cars we drive each day. But the electric car didn’t just enter our environmental collective because of the need for greener living. The first electric car was developed long before an eco-conscious movement began. The first electric car was invented around the 1820s-1830s. Energy.gov notes that the earliest of these inventions were small, and more functional electric cars didn’t hit the roadways until around the later part of the 19th century, reaching their peak in 1900. Henry Ford’s Model T zoomed past the electric models, and the Model T and gas-fueled cars became the norm. It was the cost of the fuel, though, that drove individuals to look once again at electric options. Energy.gov explains that the high gas prices of the ‘60s and ‘70s made people plug into the thought of other options. The price at the pump, after all, affects a family’s budget and bottom line. Those who faced long commutes to work during these decades of high gas prices likely took a hit to their finances. The electric cars of the ‘70s weren’t very chic or sleek. They were, however, quite compact. One of the models was Sebring-Vanguard’s CitiCar. Only a few thousand were created, and these small cars actually had a bit of speed—up to 50-60 miles per hour! Unfortunately, the electric car fad of the ‘70s was just that…a fad. And, eventually, it died out. Leaving the roads filled with the standard gasoline-powered engines. Consumers continued to flock to the pump. Yet, things changed once again in the early 1990s when new regulations meant that electricity was, once again, an interesting option. The late ‘90s saw the introduction of hybrid vehicles, but it was Toyota’s Prius that became an electric hit. Perhaps it was the Prius’s popularity that really started the true electric revolution in the industry. At the turn of the new millennium, the hybrid Prius became a sleek status symbol. And a symbol of what we might today call environmental ‘wokeness.’ Celebrities were spotted driving the Prius, cementing the car’s status in pop culture. Later, Tesla entered the market, and charging stations began popping up across the country…especially as electric vehicles became more mainstream. But just how mainstream is the electric vehicle? In 2018, more than 361,000 electric vehicles were sold; sales dipped a bit in 2019 when the industry reported more than 326,000 electric vehicles. Tesla dominated sales; nearly 140,000 of the electric car sales in 2018 and more than 154,000 in 2019 were Tesla Model 3. Yet, given that millions of cars are sold each year, electric cars still make up a mere fraction of total sales. While they aren’t dominating the industry yet, the popularity of brands like Tesla makes the trend hard to pass off as just a fad, especially as many cities have installed charging stations to meet the demands of electric vehicle owners. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-184.jpeg] THE FUTURE IS ELECTRIC? Tesla might be making electric shockwaves across the industry. However, while the popularity of Tesla cannot be ignored, the price of a Tesla isn’t necessarily feasible for every American’s budget. Tesla may be considered a luxury brand, as $36,000 is about the price the consumer may pay for the most inexpensive model (Tesla Model 3). The Tesla Roadster, however, is priced at around $200,000. Consumer demand drives supply. If the interest in electric continues to ‘electrify,’ more affordable models across manufacturers may be introduced. Tesla, after all, isn’t the only player for electric business. Nissan, Ford, Chevy, Honda, Toyota, BMW, Kia, VW, and many others also offer an electric car among their models. Edmunds reports that Mini actually offers the most affordable electric car—the 2020 Mini Cooper SE, starting at $30,750. If consumers begin to eschew the gas pump for the plug, the offerings from the industry may become even more varied. After all, the auto industry didn’t just begin and end with the Model T. Manufacturers created many models—some more popular than others—throughout the decades, and consumers could choose economic models, luxury models, muscle cars, sedans, SUVs, station wagons (remember the old station wagon!), trucks, vans, minivans and more. The industry adapts as the consumer’s needs vary. And the electric car evolution may be in its infancy. The future could hold a vast and varied amount of makes/models all featuring unique capabilities. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-185.jpeg] WILL THE ELECTRIC CAR GIVE RISE TO THE SELF-DRIVING CAR? Tesla may be known for electric cars, but the company also is pioneering what driving might look like in the future. Tesla’s cars all offer Autopilot capabilities “…and full self-driving capabilities in the future—through software updates designed to improve functionality over time.” The self-driving car isn’t so much a dream as it will be an automotive reality. Self-driving cars may be the future of the road. However, how a self-driving car may look is anyone’s best guess; maybe our vehicles also could integrate virtual reality into the car. Will avatars take the driver’s seat? Or will the driver simply sit in the driver’s seat and control the self-driving functions? Self-driving cars could start out with humans in the driver’s seat and our AI avatars taking over eventually. The implications of a self-driving car, though, are far-reaching. Without having to focus on driving, humans can multitask during the commute. Maybe teleconferences will happen from the car. Or perhaps the drive will be an extension of the workday. During pleasure trips, though, the family may be able to watch movies together or play games in the car…while the car drives itself. There isn’t a definitive prediction on how the self-driving car will look in the beginning; maybe different manufacturers will opt for different scenarios. The price for a self-driving car also might not be affordable for everyone in the beginning, although a high price is simply an assumption. Not everyone could afford a Model T when it was first introduced, and, with self-driving cars, some individuals may be hesitant to buy into the trend in the beginning. And will self-driving cars catch on with the public? Electric cars were popular in the ‘70s but disappeared until the ’90s. Could self-driving cars follow a similar pattern? Or electric cars? Right now, electric cars are still the minority. So even electric hasn’t gone mainstream quite yet; electric is trendy and popular, but the price may not make the option accessible to buyers on a budget. Still, the rising popularity of electric models may show that the plug may be disrupting the popularity of the pump. As for self-driving cars, the future could leave humans in the passenger seat. And AI in control.
Disruption in the Automotive Industry – Part 1
December 11, 2020
Disruption in the Automotive Industry – Part 2 Disruption in the Automotive Industry – Part 3 The Covid pandemic has changed the way consumers shop for goods and services. When businesses closed to ensure the safety of workers, survival required an alternate sales methodology. The logical solution involved digital sales; the savviest companies already had a prominent internet sales presence, and the online shift created less of a disruption. Auto dealerships, however, thrived on in-person transactions. Seeing and test driving the vehicle were all seemingly essential to the buying process. Yet, closed dealerships needed to thrive and survive, too. Digital sales cruised into the fast lane of the auto industry, because, like the retail sector, dealerships were forced to evolve and embrace the digital sales revolution to stay afloat. The biggest unknown for dealerships, however, was the uncertainty of how consumers would react or respond to the idea of purchasing a vehicle in a digital realm. With no other option than buying online, consumers who needed a new car did adopt this new digital normalcy. As the pandemic continued to disrupt daily life, digital auto sales have seemingly become a new buying standard. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-181.jpeg] THE RISE OF E-COMMERCE AUTO SALES Covid has been a worldwide threat. The pandemic left few countries unaffected, so the pivot to digital sales was a global trend. Many companies likely began to tailor their online sites to meet their customer’s shopping experience demands; digital experiences had to now be extraordinarily competitive to convert browsing to sales. Retail businesses might have benefitted from additional online features that simplified the buying process; stores that offered virtual fitting rooms or ‘try on’ features gave customers a new way to preview products before buying. In many ways, businesses had to adapt their online presence to better mimic an in-person experience. While not all businesses might have revamped their site—or could revamp their site—those who could expand virtual experiences or who already offered such features were likely in a better position than their competitors. Before Covid, most dealership websites offered basic features online. Buyers could see the inventory on the dealership’s lot and maybe preview current sales. Some dealerships might have offered virtual showrooms that allowed customers to see inside the vehicles. During Covid, dealerships were in a position where their online presence needed to be comprehensive and offer similar shopping experiences as an in-person dealership visit. The challenge? Most car shoppers took advantage of test drives to gain a better feel for the car’s mechanics. And buyers were accustomed to being able to open doors, sit in the car and check out all the features. Duplicating these experiences was a challenge but not impossible. Dealerships included virtual showrooms to their sites. These showrooms allowed the dealership to showcase their full inventory. Virtual showrooms often captured the car in 360 degrees. Many virtual experiences allowed shoppers to peek inside the car to view the interior and features. Shoppers could rotate the vehicle, seeing it from all angles. Dealerships that couldn’t offer their own digital showrooms used apps like RelayCars, which offers digital experiences for many makes/models. Shoppers could change the vehicle’s paint hue and even switch out other features. But what about test drives? This part of the car shopping experience was likely the hardest for dealerships to replicate in the digital realm. Some offered videos of test drives, and the shopper was given the vantage point of the driver. Other dealerships or manufacturers offered virtual test drives via mobile devices; these experiences were a bit like a game, with shoppers tilting the device to navigate the car. Dealerships also allowed potential buyers to book a test drive virtually. The car was delivered to the home, and the test drive could be personalized. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-182.jpeg] HITTING BUY! WOULD BUYERS COMPLETE THE TRANSACTION ONLINE? There is a huge difference between a consumer previewing cars online or even test driving a car via a device and completing a large financial transaction online. Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles for the industry was the financial transaction…or, rather, the completion of the transaction. Retail purchases online are nothing new, and these purchases tend to be nominal when compared to purchasing a vehicle. During Covid, dealerships had to bank on a buyer feeling comfortable with applying for financing and completing a five-figure (or more!) transaction online. However, many dealerships made these transactions as easy—and, of course, safe—as possible. Buyers likely had access to customer sales associates or loan officers who could answer questions or concerns either online or via phone. Some buyers also probably shopped around for a loan. Maybe they secured financing at their local bank or credit union. One problem with online financial dealings, according to a report by Deloitte (in the UK) is that “…getting the balance right between ensuring point-of-sale compliance and creating an engaging customer experience has been difficult to achieve.” While online sales and financing helped many dealerships survive, the blunt impact of Covid couldn’t be ignored. In a report, McKinsey noted that sales dropped nearly 50 percent in April. Europe, meanwhile, saw an 80 percent hit. Interestingly, though, McKinsey’s report noted that the majority of younger people preferred buying cars online. Specifically, the report stated that “…less than a third of younger consumers prefer conducting car sales & aftersales in person at a dealership….” This statistic shouldn’t be surprising as younger generations may be more comfortable with the online buying process. Gen Z has never known a time without the internet, and familiarity often brings comfort. The younger generations also likely prefer online to in-person as it removes the sales pressure and allows them to conduct their own research related to purchase decisions. IS ONLINE CAR BUYING HERE TO STAY? While the limitations on businesses related to capacity or other mandates during Covid may continue to push consumers to focus their shopping online, the post-Covid digital sales predictions may be an unknown….especially for car shopping. After Covid, will in-person shopping dominate once again? Or will consumers simply be in the habit of buying everything online? Convenience may be a key factor. Online purchases also may be higher among the younger generations, who are already comfortable with this type of transaction. Digital sales in the automotive sector may be a big question mark. Many consumers like seeing the car in person, they want to test drive the vehicle. They want that physical experience. While a virtual reality platform can come close to duplicating in-person shopping, it can’t fully replicate it. Virtual platforms and showrooms cannot fully incorporate that tactile experience. Buyers can’t feel the upholstery on the seats. They don’t smell the newness of the car online. Colors of paint may appear different because of the screen view. The experience online can come close to the dealership experience, but will ‘close’ be enough for consumers to keep buying online? Statista reported that post-Covid 19, about a third of respondents in the UK would head online for a car purchase. Almost half of those surveyed in China reported the same. The flexibility of online sales is part of its allure. Perhaps the issue of convenience could drive online sales after pandemic. With online buying, consumers can take as much time as they need before a purchase, whether that purchase is a lipstick hue, a shirt, or a car. Sales pressure, again, is nonexistent. When a buyer is online, it’s easy to ignore that pesky little digital customer service rep that pops onto the screen. Just click the ‘x,’ and you’re back in control. But if you need assistance, that screen—that assistant—is accessible on demand. Buyers also don’t have to drive from dealership to dealership to hunt down the best deals. Researching prices and financing requires a mere click to access another dealership site. Consumers don’t have to carve out an entire Saturday to hunt for a car. They can browse, at their leisure, over the course of a few days, a few weeks, or maybe a couple of months. CNBC’s story on digital sales in the auto industry quoted stats from Group 1 Automotive, which has groups of dealerships across the country. The company’s director of retail strategy told CNBC that, in April, “online-generated sales” tripled. While experts can only speculate what will happen with online car sales in the future after Covid, right now, many dealerships may be faced with a situation that was all too familiar in the spring of 2020. In some parts of the world, lockdowns are happening yet again. In the U.S., Covid is surging, and states and cities are reacting with various restrictions. Of course, the holidays also are around the corner. Digital sales across industries may be surging, too, as consumers flock online to purchase presents for friends and loved ones. Those in the market for a new car may take the opportunity to check out dealership offers and peruse inventory. Dealerships may be positioning their online presence to be more competitive in an online-buying world. The future may be digital. Covid and the restrictions that are set to keep the public safe may change buying forever…and online sales may hold the keys to the ignition of dealership’s survival. Then again, the old ways could creep in. Older generations who are used to shopping in the dealership may continue to shop in-person. The younger generations, though, could pivot to online experiences. The future of auto sales may be an interesting hybrid of in-person and online interactions and transactions. Of course, no one will know for sure until the pandemic clears and a new normal emerges yet again.
Experts Predict Massive Growth In Augmented Reality In Automotive Industry
October 5, 2020
The automotive industry continues to change and evolve year after year. Now, innovations in augmented reality (AR) are being incorporated into the automotive industry. According to a recent study, the global augmented reality automotive market is projected to reach USD 9 Billion by 2025 due to the growth in technological advancements, growing connected vehicles, and growing consumer demand for more in-vehicle safety features. The global augmented reality automotive market’s consistent growth and demand is also dependent on the region, with North America dominating the market in 2019 and will likely continue to rise in the next five years alone. BENEFITS OF AUGMENTED REALITY IN AUTOMOTIVE Automotive companies’ investments in augmented reality can greatly benefit drivers in many ways such as: * Enhanced auto retail experience * Convenient shopping and buying research * Increased safety features * Advancements in self-driving automobiles Augmented reality can also benefit manufacturers by: * Easier design and prototype creation * Streamlining assembly process * Increased speed and safety for car repairs HOW WILL AUGMENTED REALITY AFFECT DRIVERS? Augmented reality will likely change the way that drivers shop for cars as well as enhance the driving experience. For the most part, it seems that augmented reality will actually make roads safer as the primary usage for AR in vehicles seems to focus on safety features. However, an increasing demand in self-driving cars will likely also drive the market in the future. CHANGES IN BUYING BECAUSE OF COVID-19, BUT LASTING CONSUMER PREFERENCES This projected increase could also be in part to changes in how consumers shop for automobiles. In general, online retail and spending has continued to increase year after year. Many online retailers are incorporating augmented reality into their online shopping experience. You can now find options for “virtual try-ons” on many online retail shops such as Warby Parker which uses such technology to allow customers to “try on” glasses before ordering them. Auto retail has also adopted online retail techniques but has not caught up to the complete augmented reality experience, until now. The impact of COVID-19 on consumers’ purchasing practices has forced the automotive market to completely rethink their selling techniques and consumer shopping experience, and this new experience in auto retail is likely to be a permanent shift. The global augmented reality automotive market’s boost can likely be attributed to the higher demand in online and at-home shopping experiences. With augmented reality and virtual reality, consumers can now “try on” a car from the comfort of their homes. Virtual showrooms are increasingly the way buyers prefer their car shopping experience. Consumers are becoming increasingly knowledgeable before purchasing. Even if they are planning on viewing the vehicle in-person, many buyers prefer to research and view the car before going to a dealership. They can now view not just the exterior of a car but also the interior as if they are actually sitting inside the vehicle. They can even view color options and added features before purchasing and can view all these options without ever having to go to a dealership. This change in consumer shopping habits plays a big role in the increased demand in augmented reality and virtual reality availability. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-15.jpeg] FULFILL CONSUMER IN-VEHICLE SAFETY DEMANDS Along with a shift in how buyers choose to shop for a car, the automotive industry needs to meet the demands and needs of today’s consumers. The demand for more in-vehicle safety features has also helped to fuel the global augmented reality automotive market. Drivers are increasingly looking for safety features in a car that anticipates and avoids accidents. More and more buyers are looking for vehicles that have more advanced and innovative safety features such as blind spot detection and panoramic rear views. These safety features can often make-or-break a buyer’s choice. Augmented reality in the automotive market can also satisfy consumer’s increasing demands for self-driving vehicles in the future. Tesla already has self-driving features in their vehicles, and it is likely they will merge these features with their AR developments in future vehicles. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-68.jpeg] CURRENT USAGE OF AR IN CARS Augmented reality might seem like something futuristic, but many auto companies are already implementing AR into their vehicles. Many companies are also using augmented reality for their vehicle’s manuals. A driver can download an accompanying app and use the app and computer vision to identify features in the car then learn more about use as well as give important information about maintenance. Another current usage of AR in vehicles are heads up displays (HUD). Many automotive companies such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and Mazda already have vehicles that use this form of AR to help enhance the driving experience. Vehicles with HUD use augmented reality to project data for the driver such as: * Speed * Directions * Gas levels * Lane guidance * Parking assistance This information is projected onto the windshield so that drivers do not have to take their eyes off the road even for a second. With more advancements in AR, drivers will be able to receive more real-time data as they drive and have more control without ever looking away from the road. The overall potential of AR in automobiles helps to create a more enhanced experience for drivers that will also help reduce traffic accidents and improve longevity of vehicles. WHAT CHANGES CAN AUGMENTED REALITY BRING TO THE AUTOMOTIVE MARKET? The massive growth in the global augmented reality automotive market will not only bring changes and improvements to consumer experience and use, but it will also bring changes to design, manufacturing, and the auto repair industry. DESIGN AND PROTOTYPES Designing and creating prototypes for vehicles can be extremely costly and time consuming. However, using augmented reality, manufacturers can utilize existing models and overlay them with new designs and elements. Some automobile companies are also utilizing smart glasses to design vehicles. It is also a great way for collaboration on projects as edits on designs can be made immediately and shared with all participants. AR also helps to prevent costly manufacturing of prototypes. Immediate changes and improvements can be made to a virtual model rather than creating new physical prototypes with each design change. CAR ASSEMBLY Along with designing new vehicles, AR can help to streamline and boost accuracy in car assembly. Much of the car assembly process is actually still manual which can lead to errors and often makes for a slower process. However, AR can help to optimize the process of assembly to make it quicker, more accurate, and safer for workers. Some car manufacturers are looking into how to utilize augmented reality technology such as smart glasses to help production. Information would be displayed for workers and they can follow step-by-step instructions that are overlaid on specific parts. This can make the manual process more accurate and helps reduce human errors. Another way manufacturers, such as Tesla, are hoping to utilize AR in the assembly process is to use it as a form of quality inspection as the AR applications can scan for inaccuracies and precise measurements. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-69.jpeg] AR IN CAR REPAIR Augmented reality is helping automotive technicians to be able to perform complex repairs and maintenance to vehicles more accurately and quickly. Just as car manufacturers are providing drivers with AR manuals, they are providing similar interactive manuals for repairs. Many companies already implement this technology for their technicians. They use the manuals on mobile devices such as tablets to view step-by-step instructions. This helps to increase accuracy and makes the repair process quicker. New advances in augmented reality is helping to create innovative tools to help auto technicians connect to other support services quicker. In 2017, Porsche launched a new pilot program called Tech Live Look that incorporates using AR smart glasses. The technician wears the glasses as they are working and when they need assistance they can contact a remote support service worker. Through the AR smart glasses the remote worker can view exactly what the auto technician is working on and can guide them through the process. The pilot program in several Porsche dealerships showed a 40% reduction in repair time and the company now plans to expand the use of augmented reality to all their dealerships. GLOBAL INVESTMENTS IN AUGMENTED REALITY BOOSTS AUTOMOTIVE MARKET The growth and investment in the global augmented reality automotive market will change the automotive industry in many ways. While it will be costly to implement AR, it will actually save money for both manufacturers and drivers in the long run. Manufacturers will be able to design and produce vehicles easier, quicker, and more reliably. Drivers will have increased safety measures resulting in fewer car accidents, and they will see longevity in their vehicles with more enhanced safety and maintenance features. Investing in augmented reality can also help boost an automotive company’s appeal to consumers through virtual showrooms and dealerships. RelayCars can help enhance the virtual showroom experience with high quality images and an immersive online experience. Using RelayCars, shoppers can carefully research cars they are looking to purchase before even stepping foot in the dealership.
Virtual Reality Holds the Keys to the Future of the Automotive Industry
September 29, 2020
The automotive industry drives and thrives on innovation. New makes and models are introduced by every manufacturer each year and, as technology moves at warp speed, the features and mechanics of these new designs also are driven by new advances. Virtual reality and augmented reality have existed for years, but these platforms have slowly funneled into automotive mechanics and design, marketing initiatives and sales concepts implemented by the manufacturers. In many ways, virtual reality holds the keys to the future of the automotive industry and can positively impact the consumer experience—both behind the wheel and in the sales process. Consumers have become accustomed to augmented reality in GPS devices and safety features like backup cameras and smart rearview windows that incorporate aspects of augmented and virtual reality. However, virtual reality and augmented reality intersect and weave throughout many segments of this industry. We’ll explore how both virtual reality and augmented reality are positioned to enhance the driving experience, product design engineering and the car shopping process, too. Buckle up, and get ready to merge into the fast lane with this innovative technology. VOLVO AND VIRTUAL REALITY Volvo has integrated virtual reality into its manufacturing process for years. Volvo made history in 2015 when it became the first automotive company to partner with Microsoft to utilize Hololens technology in automotive design. Hololens allowed executives and team members to visualize the new models in 3D and showcased them in a real world environment (i.e. augmented reality instead of virtual reality). CNET reported that “Volvo uses HoloLens in its engineering and design meetings….” The same article from CNET predicted that Volvo also was looking to incorporate the technology for service technicians, too. In 2019, Volvo partnered with Varjo to integrate augmented reality into the testing of safety features and to further aid in product development. According to a press release from Volvo: “Compared to its predecessor, the XR-1 adds high-definition cameras to the headset and enables mixed reality. This allows Volvo Cars designers and engineers to ‘drive’ future cars and evaluate all features in a simulation environment many years before they exist, enabling the company to develop the safest cars with the most refined user experience possible.” CAR SHOPPING VIRTUALLY: HOW TOYOTA UTILIZED AUGMENTED REALITY TO ENHANCE THE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE In 2019, Toyota was making headlines across trade and industry publications for using augmented reality to elevate the consumer’s shopping experience. Toyota partnered with Vertebrae and Saatchi & Saatchi to create a virtual shopping experience that, according to the announcement via Vertebrae, required no apps or downloads. The online experience allowed shoppers to “…place the AR vehicle in any environment (in their driveway or garage – or in front of their office) and walk around the vehicle to explore it at any angle.” As Covid-19 swept across the United States and shut down many businesses that were deemed nonessential, many dealerships and manufacturers embraced virtual reality and augmented reality to simulate the car buying experience from home. RelayCars provided dealerships with an online virtual showroom a platform that allowed consumers to preview different makes and models from the comfort of home. Shoppers could view the interior and exterior of different vehicles and even preview different paint colors. While these virtual platforms allowed consumers to explore their options, for some dealerships, virtual test drives also were offered. These test drives could be utilized via an app—like a game. Others, though, simply allowed shoppers to schedule a test drive remotely. The dealership delivered the vehicle to the shopper’s home for a personalized test drive. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-59.jpeg] AUGMENTED REALITY AND VEHICLE SAFETY Many new models are equipped with augmented reality features that may enhance the driver’s safety, or, at least, improve the driving experience. Smart rearview mirrors can utilize cameras from the back of the car for an enhanced view of the traffic (or obstacles) behind the driver. This feature is especially useful during night driving or when navigating in poorly lit areas (like a parking garage). Other features in our cars also take advantage of this unique technology. If you use a GPS system for navigation, the computerized paths generated over the street views to denote your route are an example of how augmented reality simplifies your journey. Accessing your backup (or front end) cameras to view your turning radius or to check your proximity to other cars and obstacles also is another form of automotive augmented reality at work. These cameras and the navigation prompts they provide may help eliminate minor fender benders. CNET delved into the world of automotive augmented reality last summer. CNET’s story highlighted the new GMC pickups that featured “…a transparent trailer view option.” This unique vantage point was a bit like throwing an invisibility cloak over the trailer; the driver could see behind their truck as if the trailer wasn’t even there! VIRTUAL REALITY: MARKETING & DESIGN While most drivers will be greeted with some form of augmented reality in their vehicles, virtual reality’s use for drivers is a bit more limited…for now. Virtual platforms enhance the shopping experience and allow consumers to preview cars and explore features, but, during drivetime, virtual reality isn’t really integrated into the navigation system. This technology is still incredibly important in the industry, though. While drivers don’t necessarily step into the virtual realm on the road, designers, engineers and executives do immerse in the virtual. The integration of virtual reality into the design process has helped to transform this aspect of the industry. During Covid, Joel Piaskowski (of Ford) spoke with Automobile Magazine about how virtual reality platforms allowed executives to continue the design process while working remotely during the pandemic. By utilizing virtual reality headsets, executives could view three-dimensional models of vehicles and assess the features as a team. Avatars represented each team member within the virtual world. Piaskowski told the magazine that executives could swap vantage points to view the model from another team member’s angle and also could utilize laser pointers within the virtual platform to pinpoint specific features. Other manufacturers have utilized virtual reality platforms for marketing purposes. For example, BMW offered a virtual test drive on Mars for its X3 model! Consumers could navigate the red planet from behind the wheel of the luxury X3; however, user experience was limited…as the test drive was via YouTube. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-60.jpeg] VIRTUAL REALITY & NASCAR Even before Covid, NASCAR fans embraced virtual reality racing in the form of iRacing. Fans could take to the track in a simulated virtual reality racing challenge. NASCAR provided two options—a race where all cars were equal and another where fans could change up their cars. Races provided simulated racing experiences where drivers competed for championship glory…from anywhere. Those with virtual reality headsets—like Oculus Rift or Pimax—could jump onto the track for a more realistic experience that immersed them into the race. However, racers didn’t have to use a headset to compete in the iRacing competitions. iRacing allowed diehard racing fans to experience the thrill of NASCAR even when races might have been halted because of the pandemic. Fans could race on a variety of tracks including Texas Motor Speedway, Fairbury Speedway, Lime Rock Park, Silverstone, Daytona International Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 24h Le Mans and many more! When Covid hit and halted the racing season, NASCAR responded by airing their eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series. While fans could already take to the virtual track, the online virtual reality world became the solution to keep race fans enjoying their favorite sport. In an article for CBS Sports, Scott Warfield, NASCAR’s Managing Director for Gaming, was interviewed about the virtual races: “I think we were confident in what it would do because of what we’ve seen over the past 11 years,” Warfield explained (to CBS). “With that said, I’d be lying if I thought it would do 1.3 million viewers and it would be broadcasted in 160 countries around the world. I’ve gotten more emails and texts from friends and family and college buddies about iRacing and different events they’re seeing over the last three weeks on Sunday than outside of the Daytona 500. “It’s not replacing the Cup Series, it’s not replacing the NBA or any of this other stuff. We understand that. But it’s filling a little bit of a void and it’s real and it’s dramatic and it’s unpredictable and the finishes have been great. All of those things that make sports special, there’s components of all of that in this.” [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-61.jpeg] VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY: THE FUTURE OF THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY NASCAR drivers are racing virtually. Safety features integrating augmented reality help aid drivers during commutes. Manufacturers also utilized virtual reality to showcase car models while design teams were forced to work from home during the pandemic. To simplify the car shopping process during shelter-in-place mandates, manufacturers and dealerships provided virtual showrooms to help prospective buyers find their ideal car, allowing them to see inside and even update paint hues. While all of these advancements have thrust the automotive industry into a high-tech realm, the industry has merely touched on the beginning of how virtual and augmented reality will enhance the driving experience…and the industry as a whole. Design teams can merely speculate about the possible uses of virtual reality and how it can—and will—change the features of future models. Self-driving cars are the future of automotive technology, and drivers could be completely bumped from the driver’s seat. In their place, perhaps an avatar will be positioned in the driver’s seat. Maybe that avatar looks like the car’s owner. Or perhaps we will be able to choose the appearance of virtual drivers. Maybe no one will sit in the driver’s seat! Apple filed a patent for a smart windshield. According to news reports, details of the patent possibly reveal that this smart windshield will feature Facetime capabilities. The possibilities for a smart windshield, though, could be endless. In a self-driving car, this type of windshield also could allow passengers to surf the web or handle other business matters (although this isn’t speculated in reports related to the patent). The evolution of technology and its constant advancement leaves so many doors open as to how virtual and augmented reality platforms can be integrated in design and development, too. For Jaguar, virtual reality has been a pivotal part of the design process, but the technology also has been vital for other processes, too. Jaguar Land Rover’s Virtual Reality Centre “is considered to be the most advanced Virtual Reality facility in the automotive industry.” Jaguar has used virtual reality in its development for more than a decade (since 2008), and, for the luxury manufacturer, virtual reality isn’t simply limited to design and 3D models. In the company’s blog, Andy Richardson, who is a manager of the Jaguar Land Rover Simulation Group in the United Kingdom wrote: “The power and flexibility of the system is such that it is not just restricted to vehicles. We’ve used Virtual Reality to help with the design of the factories we use to assemble the vehicles. Virtual Reality helped us to visualize the vehicle as it passes through every stage of the manufacturing process to optimize the tools, facilities and processes to ensure each vehicle can be made just as engineering intended.” CONSUMER COMFORT & VIRTUAL REALITY Manufacturers and dealerships are embracing virtual reality for numerous reasons. Consumers may seemingly have no choice but to embrace it, too. Although, many consumers have embraced it and perhaps may even prefer the virtual to the reality. Covid forced most consumers to limit their shopping to essential items only. However, some consumers still needed to buy a new car, even when dealerships might have been closed to in-person traffic. Covid, after all, didn’t stop mechanical breakdowns or other issues that might lead to the replacement of an old model. How do you preview a new car, though, when you can’t visit the dealership? Virtual reality showrooms! In the period of April 25 to April 27, 16 percent of those who responded to the Covid-19 Digital Shopping Study said that the “ability to purchase completely online” was one of the “Triggers that could accelerate vehicle purchase.” In addition, about 66 percent of those responded said that they were “more likely to buy the vehicle 100% online.” While the report didn’t highlight virtual showrooms or virtual test drives, for many shopping online for a car, these experiences could have aided their search and helped them feel more comfortable. The reality is that Covid has likely forced many to reconcile any discomfort of shopping online and even making major purchases online, because, for many industries, online shopping was the only option. The pandemic changed buying habits, and online shopping and the use of virtual reality and augmented reality to aid the quest of online shopping will probably become a more normalized way to shop and explore new services, experiences and products. As more sales head online, virtual reality also will likely be used to provide consumers with a simulation of interactions that are so vital to the in-store experience. In the realm of automotive sales, virtual reality will likely take the driver’s seat. Consumers may experience more virtual options, including immersive test drive experiences. Driving on Mars may only be the beginning of what the industry will offer. If self-driving cars become the normalized way to commute, these test drives could take place as virtual simulations in the dealership. Virtual showrooms may be inclusive to physical showrooms. We might walk into a dealership and see a projection of a new vehicle. The hologram could be completely interactive and allow shoppers to virtually open doors and peek inside the vehicle. The future of virtual reality for the automotive industry is really open to the imagination and genius new innovations of designers and engineers. Buckle up, because the virtual ride will most likely be an exhilarating journey!
What is the Future of Augmented Reality in the Auto Industry?
September 21, 2020
While Tesla has been dominating the headlines when it comes to technological advancement, many mass market brands are integrating augmented reality into the creation, sale, and functionality of their vehicles. Augmented reality is making it easier, safer, and more enjoyable to go for a drive. Read on to learn how auto manufacturers, dealers, and drivers are utilizing augmented reality in the automobile industry. PROTOTYPING AND DEVELOPMENT From the ideation stage to preliminary testing, car companies are using augmented reality to fine tune new vehicles before they hit the market. This is largely made possible with enhanced imaging software, dynamic projection technology, and improved remote control cabilitties. Traditionally, vehicles have had to undergo extensive physical trials to ensure that they meet all of the necessary qualifications to move on to the next stage. Augmented reality allows technicians to test critical functions and capabilities without the need for a physical vehicle. By creating a responsive and realistic virtual environment, testers are able to create real-world scenarios without a physical course or trial vehicle. Not only does this smooth over critical logistics and technical checkpoints, but designers and manufacturers will collectively have more time and manpower for creative development and innovation. Remote and onsite workers can use AR planning and blueprinting to better allocate production equipment and layout instructions. Augmented reality can incorporate AI computing to automate repetitive and tedious tasks. This is another feature that can reduce staffing and equipment costs. Improving time management by removing unnecessary steps from the production timeline is especially critical during the ideation phase of the product development process. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-45.jpeg] TESTING AND PRE-PRODUCTION Traditionally, car manufacturers have conducted multiple phases of ideation, analysis, and prototype testing. Now, they’re able to recreate all of these steps digitally using virtual simulations and interactive design technology. By using augmented reality to build responsive virtual testing environments, car companies can reduce spending on physical models, staffing, operational costs, and more. This also allows for a wider sample margin, providing more room innovation and development. Augmented reality also helps corporate planners build an infrastructure that meets all of their production needs. By simulating workspaces that support the necessary material flows and production processes, this method allows automotive brands to make the most out of every dollar spent on operational costs. Using augmented reality simulations to create hypothetical (but realistic) scenarios, auto manufacturers can save even more money with airtight cost calculations based on space, work capacity, adn staffing requirements. Even better, the application of AR gives remote teams the same level of access and hands-on influence as in-office workers. Now, telecommuters can see every step of the production process using hyper-realistic projections, dynamic-response simulations, and seamless interconnectivity with the user’s own mobile devices. MANUFACTURING AND SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT Augmented reality is also becoming a critical component of the sourcing and mass manufacturing process for niche and mainstream automotive brands. Workers throughout the supply chain are improving the way they interact with each unit with enhanced training, quality assurance, and damage control. Augmented reality makes it possible for technicians to learn about every detail of the car using interactive projections and virtual use scenarios that factor in dynamic elements like movement, speed, and even terrain type. Rather than physically looking under the hood, it’s possible to use augmented reality programs to assess a virtual render of the car and all of its individual parts. By improving accuracy and consistency throughout the supply chain, car manufacturers and suppliers can save money on materials, waste, and errors. Augmented reality programs can give technicians the ability to view each and every part of the car on a hyper-granular level. The more each specialist is able to learn about what the exact model they’re working on, the better their production success rate will be in the long run. DRIVER SAFETY Airlines have used AR for years to safely create digital testing scenarios and realistic testing programs. But, did you know auto manufacturers are also using the same technology to improve safety through the manufacturing, testing, and consumer driving process. Augmented reality technology is already being used by car brands like: * Mercedes-Bez * MINI * Toyota * Volvo * BMW * Chevrolet * Jaguar * Lexus * Mazda Instead of focusing on the car’s instrument panels or an external device, driver’s can use augmented reality to consume information without taking their eyes off the road. When it comes to proximity guides and rear-view cameras, augmented reality prepares the user for virtually every driving scenario. AR adds to the realism and provides a higher level of clarity and visibility for the driver with detailed, easy-to-view alerts and boundary guidelines. Augmented reality systems also make it easier to access in-car infotainment, which is especially helpful during long drives. Auxiliary benefits, including parking assistance and enhanced blindspot sensors, adds even more protection. If you’re heading out of state or down the street, you can rest assured that you’ll have a strong digital support system during the entire ride. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-46.jpeg] ENHANCED ENTERTAINMENT What if you could have an entire library of music and interactive entertainment options at your fingertips, while you’re behind the wheel? Whether you have a co-pilot or are driving solo, using augmented reality to improve in-vehicle entertainment will make the trip easier and more enjoyable for everyone in the car. Using AR-based navigation improves driver safety by projecting transparent visual elements over the driver’s standard view. Similarly, this is the safest way to switch radio stations, choose audio books, and more without causing a cumbersome distraction. Augmented reality providers use bluetooth, Android, Apple, and Microsoft technology to allow the vehicle to sync with the user’s mobile device. Cloud storage and file sharing capabilities add an extra layer of accessibility and cyber security by allowing all of the car’s digital aspects to communicate seamlessly without any external equipment. Families with children can take advantage of segmented entertainment options that allow everyone to control their own media. Plus, you don’t have to deal with the stress of arguing over the music (or movies) until a consensus is reached. Whether you’re planning on taking a 12-hour road trip or you just want to improve your daily commute, augmented reality can provide you with a safe and simplified immersive experience every time you turn your keys. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-47.jpeg] OVERALL INDUSTRY GROWTH Experts expect the augmented/virtual reality industries to reach a value of about $673 billion by the year 2025. Within the automotive industry, AR/VR are already established as a market staple for new cars hitting the market. By reducing the amount of time drivers spend taking their eyes off the road, augmented reality technology is already making vehicles safer for everyone on the road. Additionally, improving testing and reporting metrics as a result of reduced human error and manual production methods is making the manufacturing process cheaper and more efficient. With more than 1 billion users expected to hit the market this year, augmented reality is quickly gaining traction across many industries. The automotive industry is pioneering this technology in a big way, and more drivers will be taking advantage of this revolutionary tool. This system is also improving many existing standard automotive fixtures. This has led to the ideation of various smart accessories, like an AR-enhanced rear view mirror that can detect a blind-spot threat and project a video feed of it in the rearview mirror in real time. Another groundbreaking development is a system of mirror-imbedded cameras that can compile an unobstructed panoramic image of everything that’s behind the vehicle. While back-up cameras give some level of visibility, augmented reality removes more safety and security threats than any other system of imaging technology up to this point. FUTURE OF AUGMENTED REALITY IN AUTOMOTIVE Automotive and tech experts predict AR technology to become even more seamless and accessible in the near future. As smart wearables move to replace phones and portable devices, the automotive industry will keep creating interconnected systems to improve the driving experience for everyone on and off the road. Augmented reality will also likely revamp hands-free and voice-controlled applications and programs. Increasing the ease-of-use and overall functionality of voice-enabled systems is another way augmented reality is making land travel safer. If you’re shopping around for your next vehicle, consider opting for a car with an integrated augmented reality system for improved safety, performance, data security, and entertainment. For dealers and sellers, be sure to highlight any applicable capabilities in regard to AR, VR, and AI to maximize your marketing efforts and attract a wider consumer base. When it comes to the future of augmented reality in the automobile industry, we’ll be keeping an eye on this dynamic and ever-expanding market.