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How GM is Making Driving Safer with Augmentative and Virtual Reality

How GM is Making Driving Safer with Augmentative and Virtual Reality

November 9, 2020

Augmentative reality and virtual reality has been making waves in the automotive industry for years, and General Motors has taken the revolutionary technology one step further. The leading auto retailer is making the manufacturing, buying, and driving processes safer and more enjoyable for everyone using AR/VR capabilities. Read on to learn how GM is using augmentative and virtual reality to reach customers and improve the driving experience. WHAT IS AUGMENTED REALITY? If you remember the digital explosion that was Pokemon Go, you’ve been exposed to the basic idea of augmentative reality. This technology uses digital visual elements superimposed over the user’s line of sight to enhance the real-life experience with responsive, mobilly accessible digital elements. In the auto industry, this technology is being used to help manufacturers and drivers interact with cars using a higher level of detail and control – without blocking or impeding their line of sight. In GM vehicles, drivers can use augmented reality from their smartphones to shop for vehicles in a higher level of detail than ever before. Additionally, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this same technology is being used to connect designers, sellers, manufacturers, and potential buyers without the need for a brick-and-mortar dealership. This phenomenon can be made possible using mobile apps, responsive in-person demonstrations, or even reactive imagery via any internet-connected device. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-127.jpeg] WHAT IS VIRTUAL REALITY? While augmented reality works by combining reality and a virtual landscape seamlessly, virtual reality involves a completely manufactured digital environment that is independent from the real world. Virtual reality technology often uses auxiliary equipment, such as sensory-cancelling headsets, to remove the user from reality in order to transport them to a digitally created environment. This can be used to make video games more realistic, or to improve the accuracy of training and educational programs. In the automotive industry, car makers and technicians can test vehicles virtually without the need for a full outdoor course. This has great potential to improve safety, while saving money by lowering overhead and reducing operational costs for the manufacturer. Virtual reality is also being used by leading automakers to improve the passenger experience by providing them with safe, fully immersive entertainment. Everyone in the vehicle (with the exception of who’s in the driver’s seat) can dive into realistic games, videos, and even music by removing themselves from the “real world.” Passengers can truly enter a completely digital landscape using connected headsets, glasses, or even their mobile phone. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-128.jpeg] AUGMENTATIVE REALITY IN THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS Leading car brands like GM are using augmented reality to save money, increase safety, and streamline processes across the entire manufacturing process. This technology has made it easier than ever before for remote employees, onsite employees, and digital elements to communicate from any physical location. Allowing technicians to work on realistic digital models using augmented reality has reduced costs associated with operations by giving remote employees even more agency and control. This lowers the amount car retailers need to spend on office space, as well as equipment required for physical models as opposed to digital renders. Augmented reality has greatly improved the auto manufacturing process in three key ways. TESTING Vehicle safety and operational testing is easily the most critical part in the manufacturing process. Since augmented reality superimposes digital elements over actual sensor points and physical cues, workers don’t need to use physical test vehicles or drive tracks. Additionally, digital renders can be created to show how the car can perform in different terrains and driving conditions. Eliminating the need to test physical vehicle models in dangerous environments makes the process accurate, but safer, for everyone involved. PROCESS AUTOMATION Traditionally, the auto manufacturing process has been expensive and variable, leading to a dramatic shift in value and innovation across the industry. Working in a secure digital environment makes it easier to determine whether or not employees are staying on task, while reducing the amount of time workers spend on repetitive, rote tasks. Augmented reality systems are able to track a dynamic production schedule, while controlling machines remotely to increase the amount of time workers are able to spend on creative engineering and tasks that require human innovation. Additionally, AR-enabled tools can provide assistance and training in the absence of a human manager or educator. This reduces company spend on employment costs, while giving each worker control over their learning speed and style. On demand digital assistance, corporate training resources, and communication tools give workers more power to utilize their unique skills to help the company grow as a whole. STREAMLINED PRODUCTION Social distancing measures have largely limited workers’ ability to collaborate efficiently. Augmented reality has made it easier than ever for technicians, designers, and retailers to collaborate effectively on new models. By building and connecting individual parts digitally, technicians have more control than ever on the models they’re working on. Augmented reality gives them the ability to zoom into small details, manipulate the positioning of individual parts and features, and test functionalities virtually using responsive visual elements. HOW IS AR/VR IMPROVING DRIVER SAFETY? How many times have you taken your eyes off the road to check your GPS navigation or find driving directions? Just a few seconds with your attention off the road is all it takes for a devastating accident to change (or take) your life. Augmented reality gives drivers a way to see upcoming accident alerts, road construction, blockages, and even nearby businesses without taking their view off of their windshield. Augmented reality is also changing in-car entertainment for the better. Drivers no longer need to distract themselves with changing the radio station or adjusting the temperature in the vehicle. Now, augmented reality shows all of these features in the driver’s natural line of sight using visual projections that appear on the road. Additionally, voice-controlled technology makes it easier than ever for driver’s to enjoy a fully hands-free experience. Although we all need to pass a test to get a driver’s license, it’s no surprise that many drivers forget the rules of the road over time. Auto manufacturers like GM have developed realistic road simulators using virtual reality to help drivers sharpen their real-life skills, without the real-life risk. Whether it’s being used in the road or off the street, augmented and virtual reality technology has reduced driver risk significantly in just a few short years. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-129.jpeg] WHAT IS A VIRTUAL REALITY SHOWROOM? The Coronavirus has changed the way Americans interact with commercial brands in a major way, and the auto industry has responded by increasing their virtual shopping tools to boost sales. General Motors is just one of the brands that has created digital showrooms with virtual and augmented reality to allow prospective buyers to shop safely from home. A virtual showroom is essentially what it sounds like. Using their desktop or mobile device, shoppers can tour all of the retailer’s inventory using 360-degree product photography and interactive digital renders of their prospective purchase. Fewer automotive shoppers are heading to the dealership, and this has opened up a major opportunity for AR/VR tech to enter the market. Now, buyers can complete the entire buying process in just a few minutes – from their initial research period to applying for financing. As more businesses respond to the changes caused by the ongoing pandemic, augmentative and virtual reality is becoming integrated into the showrooms of large and small companies across the auto industry. Using a virtual showroom eliminates the need for dealers to keep a vast physical inventory on site, dramatically cutting overhead costs and the need for a large commercial space. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-130.jpeg] VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTATIVE REALITY DRIVING FUTURE PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT When it comes to product innovation, AR/VR tech has helped developers perfect upcoming vehicle models in far less time. GM is using augmentative and virtual reality capabilities to fine tune their products and provide buyers with an even more reliable shopping (and driving) experience. Before digitally rendered models eliminated the need for physical product testing, bugs had to be predominately addressed with trial and error. Multiple physical testing trials and recalls could be necessary to improve the car’s features, from aesthetic changes to safety measures. Now, cars are hitting the marketplace with fewer design and functionality flaws because they’ll be released after rigorous virtual testing and prototype development. Instead of building costly prototypes to make these adjustments, technicians can work on an infinite number of virtual models until the product meets set specifications. Additionally, virtual reality tools allow designers and technicians to immerse themselves in their work environments without spending time in an expensive lab or warehouse. Augmentative and virtual reality technology is making waves across a wide variety of industries, but the automotive sphere is largely paving the way. GM is using this growing tech system to keep their staff, and buyers, safer than ever before while also reducing costs and boosting value for the corporation as a whole. Immersive media is likely to become the next major medium for consumers and companies to interact and communicate, no matter their location. Take a closer look at how high-quality automotive images and responsive mobile applications are helping auto shoppers and manufacturers go through each transaction with more safety and ease.

How Honda is using Augmentative & Virtual Reality

How Honda is using Augmentative & Virtual Reality

November 2, 2020

The use of augmented reality and virtual reality technologies is expected to completely transform the automotive industry. These technologies have already been embraced by some companies in the automotive industry, including the Honda Motor Company. Over the last several years, Honda has started to incorporate augmented and virtual reality technologies into the creation, promotion, and use of their vehicles. Here are some of the many ways that Honda utilizes augmented and virtual reality technology: SHOWCASE NEW VEHICLES Honda is one of many automotive manufacturers that has utilized augmented and virtual reality technologies to introduce and promote new vehicles. At the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, the automotive manufacturer used augmented reality technology to introduce consumers to the redesigned Honda Accord sedan. Attendees were asked to put on a Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality headset. Then, they were presented with a brief history of the Accord sedan presented on an augmented reality timeline. The next part of the experience used augmented reality to show attendees how the design of the Accord has evolved over time. Attendees were able to see digital projections of the various designs. Then, attendees were able to sit behind the wheel of the new Accord sedan. Using augmented reality technology, Honda showed attendees how the vehicle’s new safety technology helped drivers navigate through dangerous road conditions. After this augmented test drive was over, attendees were able to learn about other features of the new Accord, including the turbocharged engine, Wi-Fi capabilities, and Honda Link app-based platform. Augmented reality technology was used throughout this portion to keep attendees engaged with the content. By the time the experience was over, attendees had learned everything they needed to know about the redesigned Accord. Augmented reality was also used to promote the new 2021 Acura TLX. To promote this vehicle, Honda launched the “Inside Track” campaign, which allowed consumers to use augmented reality to project a small version of the TLX onto their surroundings. Then, consumers could challenge their friends to a race through various environments, including the streets of a big city or windy roads on a mountaintop. The entire experience—from the small-sized TLX to the environment—was powered by the use of augmented reality technology. In this case, using augmented reality helped Honda create buzz around the TLX and engage with consumers in an interesting and compelling way. GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY Honda used virtual reality technology in a way that many other automotive companies have not: to give back to the community. In 2018, the automotive manufacturer used virtual reality technology to create “The Magic Snow Globe” experience for patients at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. The technology was used to transport kids inside a snow globe, where they could interact with various holiday-themed characters and other elements. For example, kids could work with the characters inside the snow globe to create a virtual snowman using virtual snow. Kids could also interact with virtual clouds in order to make it snow inside the virtual globe. Thanks to virtual technology, Honda was able to create an unforgettable holiday experience for the pediatric patients at this hospital. INTERACT WITH AUTO SHOW GUESTS Honda used augmented reality technology to make its exhibit stand out and appeal to more attendees at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show. Anyone who attended this event could visit the manufacturer’s exhibit to use the augmented reality photo booth, which the company called the “Honda Winning Moment.” Once inside the photo booth, attendees were able to take pictures of themselves participating in a selection of historical sports moments. For example, attendees could take photos of themselves celebrating with the National Hockey League winners of the Stanley Cup. Using augmented reality technology in this manner allowed Honda to interact with guests at an auto show in a unique way. It also created a memorable and fun experience for guests, who were able to take home photos of themselves as souvenirs. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-118.jpeg] ENHANCE THE PASSENGER’S EXPERIENCE Honda revealed its Honda Dream Drive prototype at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2017. This prototype, which is supported by virtual reality technology, was created in an effort to make riding in a Honda more fun and exciting for passengers. How does it work? Using a virtual reality headset, passengers would be transported to a virtual world. The prototype, which was created in partnership with DreamWorks Animation, took passengers to the fantasy world depicted in the studio’s animated movie Trolls. The motion of the vehicle triggers what the passenger experiences in the virtual world. For example, if the car accelerates forward, the passenger may start to glide forward through the virtual world. Honda Dream Drive has not been incorporated into vehicles yet, but if it is, it could completely transform how passengers experience riding in a Honda. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-119.jpeg] OFFER VIRTUAL TEST DRIVES Honda uses virtual reality technology to give consumers the opportunity to test drive certain Honda vehicles without ever visiting a dealership. This virtual test drive feature is available on most local Honda dealerships’ websites. To take a test drive, consumers simply need to visit a Honda dealership website and click on “Take a Virtual Test Drive.” To get the full experience, it’s best to visit the dealership website on a mobile device. Then, consumers will get to choose which vehicle they would like to virtually drive. After making a selection, consumers will get to watch a short video shot from behind the wheel of the vehicle. As the video plays, consumers can rotate their phone to explore the vehicle and its surroundings. This virtual reality test drive is perfect for today’s consumers, who typically start the process of searching for a new vehicle at home. BETTER SAFETY FEATURES In 2016, Honda quietly filed a patent for a new safety system supported by augmented reality technology. According to the patent filing, the system would use sensors placed around the outside of the vehicle to detect pedestrians in all directions. If a pedestrian is detected, the system would use augmented reality technology to display an avatar on the windshield. This would alert the driver of the location of the pedestrian to help them avoid a collision. Because the sensors detect pedestrians in all directions, the system would also improve drivers’ situational awareness by helping them locate pedestrians they otherwise would not have seen. Honda is far from the only automotive company that is taking advantage of these technologies. But Honda is one of the few companies that continues to find new and exciting ways to use augmented and virtual reality technology to stand out from its competitors.

How Ford is using Augmentative & Virtual Reality

How Ford is using Augmentative & Virtual Reality

October 26, 2020

Augmentative and virtual reality has long been talked about as the way that will propel the automotive industry into the future. More and more consumers are demanding for more enhanced safety and driving features in their vehicles. The demand for autonomous vehicles such as for ride-sharing services is also increasing. The way to get to this future for automobiles? Augmentative and virtual reality is how automakers are going to make these car fantasies reality. Many automakers are investing billions into tech companies that are hoping to create programs and tools to enhance future vehicles. Ford is one of those automakers that hopes that spending money on tech will help them build a stronger consumer base and put them at the lead in the race for autonomous vehicles. Ford is one of many leading automakers that are embracing augmentative and virtual reality. The automaker is utilizing new advances in technology in almost every aspect of their vehicles. From designing and manufacturing to selling and displaying, Ford is incorporating both augmentative and virtual reality features to help enhance their manufacturing and buying experiences. DESIGNING CARS In order to create a more efficient and streamlined design process, Ford has started using Microsoft’s augmented reality tech, HoloLens which can be used for commercial and industrial applications. For Ford, HoloLens has given their designers and engineers the ability to work together seamlessly to quickly create new car designs. Using holographic goggles, designers can overlay 3-D elements onto a clay model of a vehicle then quickly evaluate and create new car designs. For the most part, the program is only being used to work on details on a vehicle. The overall design of the vehicle is still done through clay modeling and then designers can manipulate, add, and alter detailed designs. They can work simultaneously with engineers to help streamline the process. According to Craig Wetzel, Ford’s manager of design technical operations, the process of designers implementing changes then sending it off to engineers then getting feedback than having to redesign is the main reason designing a new vehicle is such an arduous process. “That takes time, and we find ourselves out of phase there a lot. But placing engineering and design in the same space, a process we call co-creation, streamlines that interaction,” Wetzel says. The process not only becomes more efficient but allows for much more creativity, and according to Wetzel also makes the creating process much more fun for designers and engineers on the team. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-103.jpeg] DISPLAYING / SELLING CARS Ford is not only using augmented and virtual reality in their design process, but they are also implementing advanced technology into the way they display and sell their vehicles. In 2017, Ford demonstrated how augmented reality can be used in a way to help buyers experience the features of a vehicle from a whole new way. “Think of augmented reality as the blending of virtual reality with real life,” says Garett Carr, Ford global auto shows manager. “It’s like having x-ray vision with the power to take people deeper into our product and technology stories- it feels a little like magic.” Ford is betting on that augmented reality magic to help sell their vehicles in an innovative way. Through augmented reality, the cars appear transparent and show all the features hidden beneath the car. Offering viewers a high-tech view of all the inner workings and features of the Ford vehicle. Carr had mentioned that part of the challenges of selling and introducing a new vehicle at an auto show was that consumers were previously only able to view the outside of a car. They had no way to view the actual final parts of the inner workings of a vehicle. However, with the new augmented reality technology has allowed consumers to see anything and everything they want of a vehicle without having to wear headsets or even seeing it physically. Ford also displayed the use of virtual reality by creating a virtual space to display the new features of their vehicles such as the 10-speed automatic transmission on the F-150 and created a wind-tunnel effect over the Ford GT Supercar to exhibit the car’s active aerodynamics. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-104.jpeg] The overall experience allows consumers to get a more interactive and engaging experience when viewing new vehicles without having to test drive them. This helps consumers learn about the new features of a car and also allows Ford to gauge consumer wants and save on vehicle mileage on new models. These same technologies are similar to their virtual showroom where consumers can build and price their potential vehicles. You can get a complete view and pricing of the exact vehicle that you want. While the experience on their retail site might be a paired down version of their auto show display, it still helps consumers view a vehicle inside and out. This can help them make a more definite purchase when they finally do visit a dealership. You can even view how some cars would look in your driveway! Many Ford dealerships are also utilizing virtual reality to enhance their showroom experience online. Using programs such as RelayCars, dealerships can sell and display vehicles using a virtual showroom. Shoppers can view and see all the details of a vehicle before even stepping foot into a dealership. This can help sellers lock in sales right away as the buyer comes in more informed and likely more committed to buying or leasing a vehicle. MAINTENANCE AND TECHNICIANS Ford is also utilizing virtual reality to help with maintenance upkeep in cars and to assist technicians to repair vehicles, especially newer models that require more and more technological programming to repair. In a partnership with automotive supplier Robert Bosch, Ford will provide training for service technicians at dealerships to work on the new Mustang Mach-E electric crossover. This vehicle will include tech that many current technicians might not be trained to work with including a new high-voltage system. Auto repair technicians are starting to need to become computer programmers as well with the amount of software being implemented into vehicles today. However, Ford is working to make auto repair easier and quicker by outfitting their technicians with virtual reality programs that can help them identify problems on a vehicle and repair them quickly. Ford is also implementing them in training programs for technicians. This gives them a chance to see the actual details and understand the components and steps before working on an actual vehicle. Making new Ford technicians even more knowledgeable and experts before even working in the field. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-105.jpeg] IN-VEHICLE FEATURES & AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES While much of the augmented and virtual reality that Ford is introducing is relatively new, the automaker has been incorporating this very same technology into their vehicles little by little. Their vehicles include features that many automakers already implement such as rearview cameras to assist with parking, blindspot detection, and more. Eventually, the company hopes to introduce augmented reality to create a windshield dashboard that would help enhance the driving experience. However, Ford is also hoping to get their foot in the game with autonomous vehicles. The automakers have invested $1 billion in a startup tech company, Argo AI to help make autonomous vehicles a reality. Although the company hoped to have an autonomous vehicle service on the road by 2020, they have recently pushed that deadline to 2022. But the company has been testing pilot vehicles and programs in the meantime. As the demand for autonomous vehicles rises, the race to get their vehicles on the road relies solely on perfecting the technology. The most important feature when considering autonomous vehicles using augmentative and virtual reality is safety. A feature that Ford takes seriously and has prioritized in creating their cars. Ford might not be the only major automaker embracing augmentative and virtual reality, but they are certainly using the technology in innovative ways. Their use of the technology will likely have a strong influence in the automotive industry to utilize augmentative and virtual reality more regularly. Many dealerships already are following suit by using virtual showrooms that allow consumers to view more features of a vehicle from the comfort of their own homes. Companies such as RelayCars are helping consumers to view and purchase Ford vehicles before they even go physically to a dealership. A virtual reality showroom can help get consumers to learn more about a vehicle and helps them to make a decision quicker. Augmentative and virtual reality is changing the automotive industry for the better. It allows for more safety features in vehicles and also helps to keep the creating and manufacturing process of vehicles safer as well. Even repair technicians such as Ford’s are utilizing the technology to make their work safer and more streamlined. Although augmentative and virtual reality is still in the early stages of working with automakers, we are likely to see more innovation and influence of this tech in the field for years to come.

How Toyota is Using Augmentative & Virtual Reality

How Toyota is Using Augmentative & Virtual Reality

October 19, 2020

Toyota has long been one of the leaders in the mainstream auto industry, providing models that appeal to a variety of audiences. Now, they’re applying the newest technological trends to enhance their hybrid models like never before. By integrating the car’s computer interface and the driver’s mobile device, Toyota is bridging the gap between human and machine. IMPROVING ONLINE SHOPPING WITH AUGMENTED REALITY In general, car owners are holding on to their vehicles longer than in previous years. The average car buyer spends more than 6 years between purchases, which would seemingly be bad news for car brands. Toyota has discovered a way to entice buyers in an increasingly narrow market. Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, online car shopping rose to more than 75% in 2020. In response to this uptick, Toyota has revamped their showroom experience to better accommodate home-based consumers. To improve the process even more, this AR tool will be accessible without needing to download an app or program. Users can instead just click on a social media post or banner ad to experience an immersive demo from their desktop or mobile device. This interactive digital media tool has the potential to change the way car brands advertise to their audience base, as well as the online shopping behaviors of their consumers. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-91.jpeg] 3D DIGITAL MODELING Since COVID-19 has reduced operations for car lots and dealerships, it’s difficult for a potential buyer to get an accurate walk around of their prospective purchase. Augmented reality imaging technology gives mainstream consumers the ability to see the exterior of a virtual floor model in unprecedented detail, without setting foot in a physical showroom. The majority of car shoppers prefer to conduct at least part of the process digitally in 2020, and ongoing COVID-19 restrictions drive more and more consumers online. AR provides each customer with an immersive virtual showroom and realistic test-drive experience. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-92.jpeg] ENHANCED PERSONALIZATION AND CUSTOMIZATION Traditionally, prospective auto buyers were shoe-horned into whatever generic, canned shopping experience the dealer was able to provide. With AR/VR displays and mobile networking capabilities, every user is able to personalize their shopping experience to their liking. If someone is shopping for a rugged off-roading vehicle they’ll probably be looking for different features than a soccer mom who wants a practical minivan with a low carbon footprint. From the color of the interior to the paint job and horsepower, Toyota is virtualizing the entire car-buying experience. Buyers with different lifestyles and goals are also typically willing to spend more or less time to handle the process. Someone looking for a niche, lifelong investment might require a higher level of customisation compared to someone looking for a baseline commuter car. Using VR/AR and AI to build the customer’s experience as it learns about their behaviors and preferences allows car brands to remove the fluff from their marketing and selling strategies. MIXING REALITY WITH THE DIGITAL WORLD Toyota is one of the leading car brands that is partnering with growing tech innovators to expand their market reach. Using devices created by both Unity and Microsoft, Toyota is providing customers across their diverse customer base with more connectivity and personalization power than ever before. 360-degree imagery, motion-responsive mobile tech, and external noise cancellation are just a few features that make it possible to really imagine yourself in the media you’re consuming. Buyers can virtually park the car in their garage or in front of their house to see how it will look in real life. They can also rotate, zoom, and manipulate the digital 3D image for an even more detailed look. To tap into multiple facets of the augmented reality and virtual reality markets, Toyota is targeting wearable and smartphone users. This means that shoppers have even more options when it comes to interacting with Toyota’s ecommerce platforms, customer service teams, and even social media advertisements. CUTTING COSTS FOR DEALERS Augmented reality and virtual reality are not only improving the ownership experience better for buyers and manufacturers, but dealers are also saving money with this innovative tech development. By extending the browsing, testing, and auto financing processes to the consumer’s home, sellers can reduce operating costs by eliminating the need to keep a vast physical inventory or an in-person showroom. Dealers and sellers can also cut costs by trimming their employee training programs. Replacing in-person labs and classes with virtual reality-hosted training sessions will reduce the amount of money companies need to spend on staffing and operational expenses. A single teacher can conduct a presentation for countless students simultaneously, whereas capacity is limited in a physical classroom. Also, everything from the furniture to the electricity that runs a dealership showroom comes out of the parent company’s budget. Using VR/AR to build a digital environment allows dealers to create all of these elements virtually – at no additional cost. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-93.jpeg] IMPROVING SERVICE AND SUPPORT The automobile sphere is a dynamic industry that’s always changing the way it designs, produces, and distributes new products. Stiff competition and a driving need for tech innovation places a high level of stress on the creators behind the scenes. Toyota is connecting remote and onsite employees more seamlessly than ever before by using augmented reality and virtual reality to improve collaboration. Building a responsive virtual environment for employees to interact digitally has been proven to: * Reduce wait times between approvals * Speed up the project timeline with faster responses between team members * Improve office morale as more and more teams move offsite * Boost communication efforts between remote and in-house staff On part of the consumer, new owners will be able to use AR-integrated apps to learn more about the vehicle. The app accomplishes this by overlaying digital renders of the car’s physical attributes over a virtual 3D model of the vehicle. Buyers can improve their knowledge of their new purchase, while also gaining a deeper understanding of the functionality of their new hybrid or alternative fuel system. This is a great way to understand which parts of the car’s system are running at different points during the drive. Additionally, drivers can view information about the car’s “hotspots” on demand – or key areas like the motor, battery and fuel tank. Having better access to critical performance information makes it easier for owners to meet scheduled maintenance and repair guidelines. Identifying the car’s real-time functions using AR can also prevent minor problems from progressing by going unnoticed. This integration has also improved support rates and customer satisfaction. Reducing lag time between team members gives each employee the ability to address more client requests. ENGAGING MARKETING AND ONLINE PRESENCE DEVELOPMENT The world is moving online, and the automotive market is not exempt from this major market shift. The majority of the country spends at least a few hours per day on social media, which has created a lucrative mass audience for car companies to direct their advertising efforts. Digital media is exponentially less expensive compared to traditional or print marketing methods. Social media cuts costs even more by giving the audience the power to join the conversation. Users that share or comment on your content are just adding more power and visibility to your posts. Not only have car companies embraced digital marketing in recent years, but brands like Toyota are taking that a step further by integrating AR/VR experiences into their social media feeds and advertisements. Car companies have also incorporated augmented reality and virtual reality tech into their marketing directives. Examples include fully immersive situation-driven simulations and test sessions in the form of interactive games. Using AR/VR tech to build brand awareness combines a multitude of sales tactics into one affordable marketing tool. LASER-FOCUSED CONSUMER TARGETING Pay-per-click advertising saw a significant uptick during the initial COVID-19 lockdown, and marketers continue to use this tool to connect with social media users within their target audience. Virtual reality and augmented reality take that function step further by enhancing the immersive quality of every post and ad. Using vision tracking and face-scanning apps, brands can use interactive elements like filters and on-screen masks to entice consumers. Additionally, consumers get more out of ads that are created with them in mind. Ads that incorporate augmented or virtual reality improve the user experience, and draws in customers with a higher likelihood of spending more than 1.5 seconds on the page. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-94.jpeg] STAYING COMPETITIVE IN A CHANGING INDUSTRY The world of consumer products is shifting everyday, and online retailers are dominating nearly every sector of the commercial market. No matter the audience or target demographic, car brands are facing the same challenges as a variety of other industries – incorporating technology is a necessity if you want to stay competitive. Augmented reality and virtual reality systems have already made a significant impact within the gaming, homebuying, and photography industries. Plus, online shopping gives buyers around the world the ability to purchase products from anywhere and not just their local dealerships. Auto manufacturers, dealers, and sellers have applied this growing trend to have an edge against the dozens of other brands around the world. In fact, using AR/VR as a marketing tool has been proven to increase sales for top brands like BMW and TopShop. This technology is only becoming more present in our daily lives, and more consumers will be seeking this is a media staple in the online shopping experience. Like usual, the automotive industry is paving the way in this growing but influential digital realm. Combining augmented/virtual elements with actual reality is giving consumers a way to immerse themselves into the content they’re consuming about this major, milestone purchase. Cars are synonymous with lifestyle in the current marketplace, and AR/VR tech is giving auto brands an effective tool to convey their message to an engaged target audience.

Nissan Rogue 2021 Production Starts in Tennessee, U.S.

Nissan Rogue 2021 Production Starts in Tennessee, U.S.

October 7, 2020

The long-awaited Nissan Rogue 2021 is coming to America. Production has already kicked off at the Nissan Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant in Tennessee. This high-tech vehicle is being produced in an award-winning facility. While the factory itself is quite advanced, this production is being led with some of the most advanced technologies and approaches possible for automobile production lines. The Nissan Rogue contains a lot of technology itself, but this time its development process will be using cutting-edge virtual technology and assistive robots are going to be used in its development. NEW CHALLENGES FROM THE NEW NORMAL COVID19 has placed new requirements on many companies across all industries. This was no different for the Nissan factory, after months of not being able to work in the factory at all, returning to work recently presented new challenges to the way staff could operate. The staff didn’t stop working while the factory was shut either. Instead, they helped to make thousands of face masks to protect the local community, a tribute to the brand and its commitment. The factory was opened up slowly in stages, allowing for adjustments to be made and new measures introduced. COVID19 meant it was in for more things such as plexiglass barriers, social distancing areas, and of course the beloved masks. However, for the workers at the factory, masks and other safety gear such as goggles are often a normal part of working on the production line. Even areas for relaxation had to be changed drastically since the start of the pandemic. Social distancing is maintained, and barriers are used in areas where masks are removed for eating or drinking. In addition to all of this, there is the necessity to sterilize the factory. And so, frequently throughout the day (approximately every two hours) production needs to be halted and all tools and areas that are touched frequently need to be fully sterilized. Despite all of this, the staff is upbeat about the new production of the Nissan Rogue coming to their facility. WHAT’S NEW ABOUT THE 2021 NISSAN ROGUE PRODUCTION? Over the years we have seen increased automation of production lines across many industries. With virtual reality, augmented reality, and 5G, the possibilities of both automation and human collaboration are increasing. Robots are even collaborating, and able to adjust to scenarios as required. David Johnson, vice president, Production Engineering and New Model Quality for Nissan North America stated “Not only have we improved the way we build the new Rogue, the team is using this new technology to build all the vehicles in our U.S. plants with better efficiency and quality for customers,” In this sense, two key aspects were mentioned in a recent press release: 1. Virtual Reality – While this has been used for a while for design and training purposes, this time the use was taken a step further. Virtual reality with realistic properties was used to not only design aspects of the new cars but to test them as well. Potential issues were refined and fixed before production even began. This was due to virtual collaboration and reviews as a part of the development. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-70.jpeg] 1. Cobots – This launch sees the largest number of collaborative robots used on the production line than on any other car created by Nissan. The robots are generally used to perform repetitive tasks to improve quality and safety. However, they also mean that existing staff are free to be reassigned to areas that require a more human touch. With these two areas combined, considerable amounts are saved in time and costs. By working out issues virtually, it saves wasted resources, delays, and possible vehicle issues down the line. The Cobots also help to increase safety, reduce chances of RSIs (repetitive strain injuries), and speed up production. This time, due to restrictions and the staggered return to production after COVID19, most of the training was also done remotely. HOW VIRTUAL REALITY IS CHANGING AUTOMOBILE PRODUCTION LINES Virtual reality is steadily changing how we can experience digital objects and scenarios. In the automobile industry, there have been some great usage cases for these virtual approaches: [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-71.jpeg] * Factory Planning – The perfect factory floor layout can be planned in virtual reality. Not only can it be planned, but it can also be tested and refined * Car Design & Testing – Cars are being both effectively designed and tested in a virtual environment. As things are to scale and interactions realistic, often faults can be found and fixed before production or real-world models begin * Reviewing & Collaboration – Although many issues are detected during virtual design, some issues can occur when in the production stage. When this happens, the best minds can instantly collaborate on the issues and resolve them quickly via virtual meetings or redesigning in a virtual space. * Assembly Training – The best minds of the project can create standardized training for existing and new employees. This helps onboard them faster and develop the skills needed for production. * Maintenance Training – Whether maintenance of vehicles or factory machinery, virtual reality is perfect for this. * Increased Safety – As people can train as much as they need virtually, it reduces the risk of untrained staff being on production lines. Virtual mistakes don’t cost the company and don’t injure staff. * Remote Assistance – If there is an emergency or a specific skill is needed, instead of calling a specialist in, they can often offer remote assistance via augmented or virtual reality devices. * Remote Workers – Once 5G is rolled out across all areas, the possibilities of ‘live’ remote actions open up. This means that a specialist could work remotely in a virtual environment, and a robot or machine on the other end performs their actions. It may not be cost-effective for some aspects, but for dangerous environments or specialist skill sets, it could be extremely useful. In some places, augmented reality is also being used to detect anomalies, track stock, and more. The possible uses are continuing to be discovered. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-72.jpeg] WHAT IS THE NEW 2021 NISSAN ROGUE GOING TO OFFER? The Rogue is not new to the market as such, but this next model is packed with some exciting features. It is one of the best sellers for Nissan and in fact, this Smyrna assembly plant is getting another five to produce. A testament to their abilities and quality product approaches. Of course, as a best seller, it goes without saying that the 2021 Rogue needed to exceed 2020 expectations. So, here we take a look at what the new Rogue will offer: Engine-wise, buyers can expect a decent drive from the 181-horsepower engine. It is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder design that is connected to a continuously variable automatic transmission. This engine is more powerful than the last model and puts out 181 lb-ft of torque. There is also a choice between front-wheel or intelligent all-wheel drive. To keep buyers interested, the exterior has also had a redesign with some sleek features, focusing more on the family market by incorporating more in-car entertainment, safety -features, and comfort. Two-tone color options will also be available. According to NissanUSA, the car comes with 3 high-tech displays, a digital dashboard, and even a heads-up display that can project useful information onto the windshield, such as sat-nav directions. The Standard Safety Shield 360 is a major selling point of the vehicle. It is an advanced collection of driver’s assist and other safety features to both make driving a pleasure and the vehicle considerably safer. Safety Shield 360 includes: * Blind-spot warnings * Lane departure warnings * High beam assistance * Reversing automated braking * Rear alert for crossing traffic or pedestrians * Automated emergency braking that includes pedestrian detection NissanUSA also states that the intelligent all-wheel-drive system is advanced enough to tackle the trickiest of driving surfaces. It can adjust as required to allow safer driving on gravel, dirt, wet surfaces, and even snow and ice. The Nissan Rogue also comes with all of these included, even from the basic trim: * Keyless entry * Push-button startup * Hands-free and text messaging assistant * Apple CarPlay * Android Auto * Satellite radio * Heated front seats * Heated steering wheel * Heated mirrors * Automatic headlamps * Tire pressure monitoring (plus Easy Fill Tire Alert for correct pressures) * Two-tone exterior paint This is quite an inclusive range of technologies to be included at all trim levels. TO WRAP UP The Nissan Rogue is both full of the latest technology and also using the latest approaches in its development and production. Nissan is not the first company to take on virtual reality approaches in the automobile industry and is unlikely to be the last. Virtual reality, assistive robots, and modern work approaches via 5G is changing how we live and work.

Check Out the Latest Audis Inside and Out with Audi Virtual Reality

Check Out the Latest Audis Inside and Out with Audi Virtual Reality

September 30, 2020

The way that people experience cars and the world in general, has been changing. Virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality are adding new ways of interacting with and experiencing the world around us. The German car manufacturer Audi saw the potential for how these technologies could change the automotive industry. It isn’t just that they can be used in cars for entertainment, but that these virtual elements are being used to enhance almost every step of the process. This is because these technologies can be used for almost everything, from training to the showroom. Numerous manufacturers are already using virtual reality as a way to train staff safely, allowing them to practice virtually before working on machinery or the production line. Audi has been using some level of virtual reality in its dealerships since 2016. Part of the experience has required staff adjustment, moving away from real world cars, and yet enabling sales through virtual experiences. Moving towards real-time and interactive visualizations takes dealerships to a new model. A headset can allow visitors to view car models in full detail and full size. However, what’s possible goes far beyond that. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-62.jpeg] HOW VIRTUAL REALITY IS IMPACTING AUDI SHOWROOMS Some think that virtual reality could replace real-world showrooms. However, it is unlikely to do that in the near future. Instead, the trend seems to be a combination of remote testing and view at home by potential customers, as well as in-store virtual reality experiences. Most shoppers nowadays will start with online research. Even those in actual stores considering a product will often look for reviews online before buying. The confidence in online shopping has dramatically grown since the early years, to the point that people are willing to buy cars and even houses online. However, for the sellers, the challenge has always been providing an end to end experience. With virtual reality, it is now possible for buyers to research, experience, and even test drive virtually – eventually leading to purchase, sometimes without even seeing the car. That said, it is not the end of showrooms. Many still like to be able to talk to someone, compare products, and get ‘expert’ advice. After all, not everything you read online is a fact. This is where virtual reality is becoming a powerful bridge and tool for salespeople in real-world showrooms. As reported by sytner.com “[Virtual reality] also opens up the possibility for small dealerships – that may only be able to store a small number of Audi new cars”. The use of virtual reality may reduce showroom sizes, but could also significantly increase showroom numbers as setup costs are greatly reduced, possibly allowing for previously unviable areas to get their showrooms. As an example of how this can work, the Audi virtual reality experience allows potential customers to view the full range of cars and options from one location. It isn’t a case of “sorry sir, we don’t have that model in stock” anymore. Instead, all models and upgrades can be stored virtually at every showroom, reducing stock requirements. The Audi system uses stereoscopic 3D rendering and real car construction models to develop its system with Zerolight. The result is virtualized cars that look real, inside and out. Even the inner workings of the engine and mechanisms are included in the experience. Customers can see more of the car than was possible with real-world demonstrations. As cars in the virtual world include every detail of their real-world counterparts but aren’t solid like their brothers and sisters, customers can see inside engines, doors, and more. While for many it isn’t a major selling point, it certainly is interesting to be able to view absolutely any aspect of a car. For those with experience and mechanical knowledge, this x-ray style insight into the mechanics behind the car’s features can also help to inspire confidence and increase interest. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-63.jpeg] HOW VIRTUAL REALITY IS CHANGING CAR SALES Audi has developed its virtual reality application and for most areas, this will run on the Oculus Rift headset. This allows for advanced car models that are realistic and explorable in every way. The graphics, as previously mentioned, are backed by the high-performance technologies of Zerolight. Taking the viewing any part of the vehicle aspect further, it does allow for sales staff to be able to not only show off the car, but also any new technologies that are built into the models being viewed. Instead of only being able to say the door as a new comfort seating system, it is possible for the customer to actually see it and even compare it to other vehicles. Most of the time, however, visitors want to see just a few models they like. While this was often possible from a normal showroom, for sales staff virtual reality expands things further. For example, say that a customer would like to see an Audi RS5. Before virtual reality, the sales staff could show off the RS5 in stock and any possible other models of interest that were in the showroom. With virtual reality as a sales tool, they can now show off the Audi RS5 and any Audi in the entire range that might be of interest to the customer. What’s more, not only can they show every vehicle of interest, but also every possible adjustment. This is because all of the virtualized cars are based on the real development plans of the real cars, carefully adding almost every detail to size and perfectly displayed. This means that should a customer want to see the sports trim, with a few extra add-ons, they can do so almost instantly with a few selections within the virtual reality experience. This is an incredibly powerful tool for selling upgrades, as instead of just hearing about the benefits, customers can visually experience exactly what they are considering buying. Audi is going full-on into incorporating virtual reality with its “Customer Private Lounges” across the region. To date, there are hundreds of dealerships with fully kitted lounges that show off the Audi range virtually. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-64.jpeg] This means that potential buyers can put on a headset in a safe environment to explore any car they choose. It allows them to configure the car as they please, within the available options. As the virtual world is fully immersive, the scale and vehicles in the virtual environment feel extremely realistic and to size. Even the lighting can be changed, so the car can be seen shimmering on a summer’s day, or looking aggressive in twilight lighting. This might seem a strange feature at first, but it is a great way for a buyer to see how the car ‘feels’ at night, particularly from the driving seat perspective. AUDI – A FOCUS ON VIRTUAL REALITY EXPERIENCES Despite all of the above points being great, for Audi, there is a strong desire to provide a real experience to their customers. Sure, being able to show off all of the features of all possible models is a step, but ideally, you want visitors to be inspired. After all, this is intended to be a sales tool, and nothing sells better than an amazing experience. It is for this reason that Audi took things one step further, but creating not only virtual environments to view cars, but also virtual experiences that relate to the cars. This isn’t just related to being in a car, or the environment where the car is set, but with Audi’s history and related experience. Customers can get to feel like they are at the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race, even to the extent of experiencing an ‘up close and personal’ pit stop via “special Audi moments”. OTHER WAYS AUDI IS USING VIRTUAL REALITY Audi has embraced extended reality (XR) for business. Extended reality is all forms of virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality. They are looking at how it can revolutionize the automobile industry. However, Audi isn’t just considering how it can assist with learning, guidance, and virtual meeting. They are also looking to the future, a future where soon we will likely be spending a lot more time in cars where vehicle engagement isn’t required. These extended realities will likely play a big part in keeping people entertained and connected while on the move. 5G is going to make real automation and even remote operation possible. However, with that bandwidth comes the possibility of live streaming games, events, and more to headsets or other virtual devices. This can be anything from making the journey more fun with mixed reality games or characters being added along the route, to being able to watch the game live in full virtual reality while being seated in the driver’s seat returning from work. How cars are seen and how the automotive industry works could be almost unrecognizable in the not too distant future. Assembly line workers could be both trained and able to work remotely with virtual or mixed reality, cars will become autonomous, and sales rooms could shrink and no longer need stock, and that’s if showrooms don’t eventually become entirely virtual … with the test drive vehicle autonomously delivering itself to your door.

Top 10 Most Loved Car Brands

Top 10 Most Loved Car Brands

September 25, 2020

Every year, the data analytics and consumer intelligence company J.D. Power conducts a study to determine the car brands that are the most appealing to consumers. To conduct the 2020 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, J.D. Power analyzed responses from nearly 90,000 owners of new 2020 model year vehicles in the U.S. The study is designed to measure how owners feel about their new vehicle using 37 different attributes. For example, owners were asked to evaluate the feeling they got when accelerating in their new vehicle and the sense of luxury they felt while behind the wheel. These scores were then added together to calculate a total APEAL index score that could range from 1 to 1000. The results of this study revealed that these automotive brands had the highest scores, which makes them the top 10 most loved car brands in 2020: [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-50.jpeg] HYUNDAI With 842 points, Hyundai came in at #10 on the list of the most loved car brands of 2020. This includes multiple brands under the Hyundai parent company, including Kia and Genesis. Hyundai may not have topped this list, but as a parent company, it did receive more awards than any other automotive manufacturer. This year, APEAL Awards were given to the Genesis G70, Hyundai Sonata, Hyundai Veloster, Kia Stinger, and Kia Telluride. HONDA Soichiro Honda founded Honda in 1949, and over 70 years later, it is still one of the most popular car brands in the United States. There are a number of reasons why consumers love Honda vehicles. The manufacturer has a reputation for producing high-quality, reliable vehicles, which is a quality that consumers will always appreciate. But reliability by itself isn’t enough to secure a spot on this list. Honda edged out the competition by upgrading its design with more sophisticated technology and higher-end materials. This might not be the only year that Honda lands a coveted spot on this list. Another study found that Honda has some of the most loyal consumers of all manufacturers in the automotive industry. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-51.jpeg] NISSAN With 844 points, Nissan tied with two other automotive manufacturers for the #8 spot on this list. This may come as a surprise to automotive industry insiders since the company has seen a decline in sales over the last several years. Similar to Hyundai, Nissan won a number of awards for the brands under its parent company, including the Nissan Armada, Nissan Maxima, Nissan Sentra, and Nissan Versa. Nissan earned a respectable position on the list for this year, but it may climb even higher in the years to come. This is because the manufacturer has announced plans to update the designs of many of their models over the next few years. If consumers respond well to these updates, the automotive manufacturer could soar to the top of next year’s list. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-52.jpeg] MAZDA Mazda’s three-way tie for 8th on this list may seem like a modest accomplishment, but it’s no small feat for this automotive manufacturer. Last year, Mazda was ranked nine spots lower on the list. But this year, consumers responded more positively to 2020 Mazdas, especially the Mazda 3, Mazda 5, and Mazda Miata. J.D. Power isn’t the only company that noticed the shift in consumers’ perception of this automotive brand. The U.S. News & World Report named Mazda the Best Car Brand for 2020. Mazda’s higher APEAL score could be attributed to its high safety score, which is a quality that consumers always look for when purchasing a new vehicle. But the updated interior design, which now includes an upgraded infotainment system, could also have lifted Mazda’s scores this year. KIA The final automotive manufacturer in the three-way tie for 8th place is Kia. Two Kia models, the Stinger and Telluride, helped its parent company, Hyundai, win a number of APEAL awards this year. But even though Kia falls under the Hyundai parent company, this automotive manufacturer has strong enough scores to rank on this list on its own. This year, consumers responded well to a number of different Kia models, including the Cadenza and Forte. Both of these Kia models are designed with stylish exteriors and luxurious interiors complete with UVO infotainment systems. Kia also offers one of the most consumer-friendly warranties in the automotive industry, which could be another reason why it ranked so high on this list. Kia may be tied for 8th place on this list, but it actually placed first in the Initial Quality Study, which is also conducted by J.D. Power. These scores indicate that Kia could continue to climb higher in the years ahead. MINI Scoring an impressive 846 points, Mini secured the #5 spot on this list of the car brands that consumers love the most. As its name suggests, this manufacturer initially offered consumers a smaller, luxurious vehicle with a unique look. But now, Mini models are not so mini anymore. The larger size may not make sense given the manufacturer’s name, but it does seem to be a hit with consumers, who appreciate the additional space offered in the newer models. Mini vehicles are also known for their reliability, speed, and stylish designs. These vehicles may have higher price points than others on the list, but this doesn’t seem to bother consumers, who may be willing to pay more in order to experience these unparalleled vehicles. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-53.jpeg] FORD Perhaps the most recognizable name on this list, Ford ranked #4 on the top 10 most loved car brands of 2020. Some industry experts may be surprised that Ford is not higher on this list, especially because the Ford F-150 consistently ranks as the most popular pick-up truck in the country. Ford may produce the most popular trucks on the market, but it also manufactures other types of vehicles. For example, the Ford Mustang is one of the most iconic sports cars of all time. The Mustang has been around for decades, but it continues to rank high on the list of the best sports cars year after year. The Ford Escape, a sports utility vehicle (SUV), is another popular vehicle produced by this manufacturer. In fact, the Escape even earned an APEAL award this year. Other Ford vehicles, including the mid-size Fusion and Fusion Hybrid, have not been as well-received by consumers. This could explain why Ford was unable to land the top spot on this list despite its successful line of pick-up trucks and SUVs. GMC General Motors Company, or GMC, was ranked #3 by consumers who responded to the J.D. Power 2020 APEAL study. A number of the GMC parent company’s vehicles won awards in this study, including the Cadillac CT6, Chevrolet Blazer, and GMC Sierra HD. These are some of the many GMC vehicles that appealed to a vast number of consumers this year. GMC may have ranked near the top on this list, but it did not fare so well in another J.D. Power study. It ranked #8 in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, which measures the number of problems that owners of new vehicles experience within the 90 days of ownership. Perhaps addressing these issues and improving the overall perceived quality of GMC vehicles could help GMC secure the top spot next year. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-54.jpeg] RAM The runner up on this year’s list is Ram, which scored 871 points in the 2020 APEAL study. Ram scored well in the Initial Quality Study as well, landing the #3 spot on that list. Unlike other manufacturers on the list, Ram solely produces trucks and vans. Despite their limited product line, consumers responded incredibly well to Ram vehicles, showing a deep emotional attachment with their newly purchased 2020 models. Scores were high for Ram vehicles across the board, but one model that scored high enough to earn an APEAL award was the Ram 1500, which is a full-sized pick-up truck with a luxurious interior. Ram’s high ranking may not come as a surprise to many since the company reported the highest sales growth among all automotive manufacturers in the first half of 2019. Studies have shown that Ram consumers are also very loyal. More than half of previous Ram owners who purchased a new vehicle in the last year chose to buy another Ram. Based on these statistics, it’s clear that most consumers are currently more than satisfied with their Ram vehicles. DODGE Dodge scored 872 points, which is enough to secure the top spot on the list of the 2020 car brands that consumers love the most. This isn’t the only top spot that Dodge secured this year—it was also the top-ranked manufacturer in J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study. This makes Dodge the first domestic automotive manufacturer to secure the top spots in the mass market segments in both lists during the same year. Many Dodge vehicles received positive ratings from consumers this year, but the Dodge Challenger, a muscle car, scored high enough to earn a model-level APEAL award. This vehicle is consistently ranked one of the top sports cars on the market due to its spacious, luxurious interior and powerful V8 engine options, some of which top out over 700 horsepower. Dodge’s reliability, safety, upgraded designs, and speed have helped the manufacturer beat out its competitors and win the top spot on this year’s list. Automotive manufacturers from around the world rely on the results of this study to help them make better business decisions and design vehicles that are more appealing to the modern consumer. For this reason, it is safe to say that these results could impact the way that new models of vehicles are designed and marketed to consumers in the year ahead.

Ford Designs New Car Entirely With Virtual Reality

Ford Designs New Car Entirely With Virtual Reality

September 23, 2020

As the industry approaches a 12-figure valuation, one auto manufacturer has taken their brand to the next level with virtual reality technology. Ford recently unveiled the image of a groundbreaking new race car, which was designed entirely using virtual reality. This 3D design method is providing auto brands with hyper-realistic detailing, improved tactile response, and enhanced blueprint imaging. Read on to learn how Ford has used virtual reality to revolutionize the design and prototyping phase of automobile production. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-48.jpeg] TECHNICIAN TRAINING AND SUPPORT Worker education and training was another aspect of the auto manufacturing process that was greatly impacted by the pandemic. Certain employees who depend on three-dimensional visual and tactile elements were able to continue operations, despite telecommuting demands. Using mobile-friendly VR headsets or 3D visual projections, workers were able to attend courses, seminars, and training sessions which incorporated realistic exercises with practical applications. Hands-on professionals can only apply so many skills with videos and images alone. Virtual reality programs make it possible to create cloud-based digital scenarios for virtually every step in the car manufacturing process. This is also another area where car brands can cut costs, since virtual reality renders replace the need for a physical vehicle model during the product ideation, design, and testing phases. SAFER MANUFACTURING DURING COVID-19 Like many other industries across the global workforce, COVID-19 had a significant impact on the automobile industry. Stringent distancing measures and regulations for commercial businesses put standard operations on halt for most car companies. Using virtual reality to design and produce cars allowed employees to effectively work remotely. By maintaining timelines for prototype development, marketing, and distribution, Ford is one of the companies that was able to thrive in spite of the market downturn. For example, Ford technicians used proprietary VR software to complete the Mustang Mach-E while working from home. This technology gave designers, engineers, and quality control specialists the ability to complete their work remotely, allowing offsite teams to reach production quotas and deadlines successfully. Virtual reality technology has also made strides for innovation and product development. By simplifying analysis and collaboration processes during the COVID-19 lockdown, Ford used virtual reality headsets for: * 3D modeling * Computer-aided designing * Digital sketching * Virtual environment generation Safety is paramount in a time like this, and community health parameters largely outweigh product demand and profitability across the global marketplace. Ford is one auto manufacturer that was able to simultaneously reduce physical contact and streamline the digital design process using virtual reality systems. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-49.jpeg] INCREASED LEVEL OF CONTROL DURING INITIAL DESIGN PHASE If there’s one thing that can tank the production of a great product, it’s poor communication. In order for something as intricate as a high-performance sports car to successfully reach the last stage of development, everyone involved needs to be on the same page every step of the way. Detailed 3D diagrams, secure cloud-based file sharing, and mobile-friendly syncing capabilities are making it easier than ever for remote workers to virtually design, test, and analyze new vehicles from any location. AR/VR-enabled mobile devices and interactive projections give each user the ability to move, rotate, magnify, or expand individual car parts from every angle of the interior, exterior, and frame. Virtual reality makes it easier for every worker to access information, graphics, and valuable updates regarding the project. The same technology simplifies internal communications by rendering every aspect of the vehicle in a completely digital, cloud-hosted environment. While this development made it easier for Ford to sustain operations during the pandemic, virtual reality tech will undoubtedly become a mainstay in the automotive industry. REDUCED COST AND TIME SPENT ON PROTOTYPE DEVELOPMENT When using physical prototypes and clay modeling to create a new vehicle, it can take weeks for just one model to come to fruition. Virtual reality allows technicians to complete the same steps digitally in a fraction of the time, reducing the production life cycle to just a few days. Requiring less time for the creation of each model allows internal and remote teams to allocate their time to other projections. Or, companies can cut a considerable chunk out of their budget by reducing spending on: * Staffing * Materials * Operationa * Leasing space * Research and development Using virtual reality instead of physical development techniques, auto companies can potentially cut the time they spend prior to product launch by more than 20 percent. Unsurprisingly, this can directly translate to a significant reduction in cost almost immediately following system adoption. As with any company, it’s in the best interest of every auto manufacturer to cut costs and maximize innovation anyway they can. This is especially true when considering the competitiveness of the auto market AND the economic strain of a global pandemic. Scalability and growth is paramount in the current sink or swim environment. FORD BREAKS BARRIERS IN PERFORMANCE AND INGENUITY This industry-changing event was broadcast live to viewers, giving consumers a first-hand look at the process. Ford chose to use a top-performing speed machine as an example, while also appealing to the alternative energy market with an all-electric fuel system. It’s no secret that Ford sought to make history by dropping the digitally built Mach-E on their growing audience. Innovators who were responsible for the construction and application of VR to production speed, accuracy, and advertising optimization have managed to disrupt the downward trajectory of an entire industry. Despite being in the midst of one of the most significant economic downturns in American history, Ford’s stocks have risen during the summer slump. This shift in the company’s growth potential shows that it’s still possible to grow and thrive in less-than-favorable commercial circumstances. FASTER LAUNCH TIME AND PRODUCTION By preventing the same pitfalls that caused other auto manufacturers to halt production during the pandemic, Ford was able to exceed industry expectionations by a landslide. While Ford does own a dedicated VR lab for testing and product development, they’ve successfully moved similar technology offsite. Now, workers can view digital models virtually from their mobile phone, tablet, or desktop computer at home. Improving the seamlessness of the early stages in the product development process gave Ford the ability to reduce costs and save time sooner than previous methods allowed. This gave them the support they needed to build a brand new unit collaboratively without the use of a physical manufacturing location. One of the primary inhibitors to corporate profits during the COVID-19 lockdown was the brand’s inability to produce or distribute their products. Showrooms closed, workers were sent home, and production stopped for many brands as they tried to navigate regulations that changed by the hour. Using virtual reality to bridge these gaps, Ford continued to test, assess, and work out bugs that were found in an entirely digital environment. As a result of these simplifications throughout the critical beginning stages of production, this auto manufacturer made history and was able to release their newest high-performance race car in record time. STREAMLINED SHOPPING EXPERIENCE AND ENHANCED MARKETING Although virtual reality was used primarily during the first phases of the car’s production, VR also improved Ford’s marketing efforts in a few different ways. From creating an immersive virtual showroom shopping experience to allowing consumers to tour their prospective purchase from home, VR is making the automotive industry more accessible for everyone. As a result of the ongoing health crisis, consumers are becoming accustomed to shopping online for everything from groceries to homes to – you guessed it – automobiles. This trend is expected to outlast the pandemic, which will change the way we all interact with consumer products. Virtual reality is giving every level of consumer a birds-eye view of their new investment, which gives the buyer more independence during their search. Having more customization and control over their purchase gives casual and committed shoppers a much higher level of overall satisfaction regarding the transaction. By reducing their consumer bounce rate, Ford used virtual reality to turn an exciting new product into a tool for improved client retention and brand recognition. The application of this technology throughout the rest of the process has allowed car brands like Ford to apply their efforts vertically into areas like: * Eco-friendly technology * Alternative fuel methods * Sustainable manufacturing * Increased automation With their compatible at-home VR program, Ford maintained a surprisingly high level of productivity and growth during an incredibly difficult time. This leading car company has made headlines with their all-electric muscle car, but other brands are following close behind. Cross-functional trailblazers like Bosch and Amazon have shown why virtual reality is a practical investment for nearly every sphere. By virtually designing an entire vehicle from conception through completion, Ford has changed the way companies and consumers will produce and distribute products. If we learned anything from the buzz around the Mach-E, it’s that virtual reality is here to stay.

The History of the Dodge Charger

The History of the Dodge Charger

September 18, 2020

Many that hear the name Dodge Charger, instantly think about the early year classics or the latest muscle car from the series. The Charger has been around since 1966 in various forms. Not all models were a success, and some couldn’t really be described as a “classic” muscle car. However, they have certainly put out a few models that captured hearts and imaginations, locking them in as a great American classic. As of now, they are back on track with popular models such as the Hellcat Redeye. The public expects brute force and a look to back it with the Dodge Charger, and currently, that is exactly what is being delivered. So, let’s take a look at how this American powerhouse of a car got to where it is today. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-37.jpeg] 1966–1967 FIRST GEN DODGE CHARGER This was a high competition era for the early Dodge Chargers. They were up against cars like the GTO and Chevelle. In order to get the brand out there, they needed to deliver both in style and in power to make this car catch on. This was a 2-door fastback. The styling was sleek, wide, and low. It had reasonably aggressive flaring and indents, but also seemed to be slightly an understated muscle car for what was hiding under the hood. The roof curves down towards the back, giving it a mildly sporty look. Depending on their budget, buyers could opt from an impressive range of V8 engines. Now, when you look at this list, consider that this power is from a 1966 car. Many cars on the market today are struggling to hit these figures: * 5.2-liter V-8 * 5.9-liter V-8 * 6.3-liter V-8 * 7.0-liter Hemi V-8 Engines ranged from 230 horsepower, up to over 400 horsepower in the early gen models. All of these came with plenty of torque too, with the Hemi churning out a massive 490 lb-ft of torque. These were then coupled up to a 3-4 speed manual, or 3-speed automatic transmission. Inside the 1966 Dodge Charger passengers were greeted with four separate bucket seats. A center console ran right through the interior of the car. However, surprisingly considering its popularity today, sales of the first-generation Dodge Charger weren’t all that high. This was, however, fixed when the second generation launched in 1968. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-38.jpeg] 1968–1970 SECOND GEN DODGE CHARGER This model not only captured those of the era but the hearts of fans for decades after. This model was intended to make an impact and that grille makes sure it does. The look was so distinct that it became a featured car in movies of the era. One of its most renowned appearances was in General Lee and The Dukes of Hazzard. The full-width grille on what is already a wide body gives it an aggressive look. That’s then added to further by the wide body, which is low riding, and a curved roof that slopes off into the thin rear. Even the rear lights were rounded, for more individual styling. One of the main reasons this car has such an aggressive look is at first it appears not to have any headlights. The headlights are actually sunk back and almost hidden beneath the grille itself. They blend with the bodywork perfectly and give the car a unique look. In 1969 the Charger 500 was born to NASCAR, with a Dodge Coronet grille added for better traction and fitted with the high-end V8s. This was also followed by the Charger Daytona, with a more aerodynamic that totally did away with the flat front grille design. This model literally curved into a sharp line at the front, intending to cut through the air like a knife. Both cars were highly successful, to the point they ended up being restricted and eventually banned from racing. They were ahead of their time for power and performance on the track. Of course, it was not only styling, but there was some serious work put in under the hood. The engines available at the time included: * 3.7-liter Straight-6 * 7.0-liter Hemi V-8 * 7.2-liter Magnum V-8 This time, these were coupled to a 3-4 speed manual transmission or two options for 3-speed automatic transmissions. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-39.jpeg] 1971–1974 THIRD GEN DODGE CHARGER This model changed the grille once again, this time offering a divided grille. The split effect was provided with a large chrome surround that came down through the middle, almost creating a twin grille effect. The lights were also moved into the grille area, with twin round headlamps on both sides of the split grille. While a more traditional placement for headlamps, the split grille and two lamps in each section still maintain a uniquely aggressive styling. It was a sportier brother to the Dodge Coronet sedan range, actually borrowing that split grille and twin lamp design. Sales of this model were a success, partly because of the popularity, and partly because it ended up replacing the Dodge Coronet. Of course, the roof still sloped towards the rear of the car, with both the base and upper trunk curving towards that distinctive rear flaring, set with round brake lamps. Engines available included: * 3.7-liter Straight-6 * 5.2-liter V-8 * 6.3-liter V-8 * 7.2-liter Magnum V-8 There were also sport variations provided to the public. Due to the success of this car on the track, they were a popular model to get. These included the Charger Super Bee, Charger R/T, and Charger 500. Sadly, this was the last time we would see this style of Charger from Dodge. Things take a dramatic turn, and many would say it was not for the better. However, keep reading, as Dodge does pull things back around as we move towards the present. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-40.jpeg] 1975–1978 FOURTH GEN DODGE CHARGER Dodge took a new direction for this series, aiming to fulfill the luxury car market, rather than the muscle car and racing style it became famous for. The appearance was heavily adjusted to a style that resembled more of a 2-door luxury sedan. Or, as said of the era, it was a personal luxury coupe. The roof was often a fake convertible roof, often referred to as a Landau roof. Strangely, this is where a fixed roof (solid metal, the same as a normal car) has cosmetic coverings and attachments to make it look like it is a convertible car. These would often be covered in materials such as leather or cloth to add to the appearance of it being convertible – despite it not being even semi-convertible. The car itself had a bulkier and heavier look. The styling was less streamlined and more of a family car look. The grille was now a small central grille, although the twin headlamps remained either side of the grille. Above that, the hood was set with a hood ornament. Engine-wise, there were: * 5.2 Straight 6 * 5.9 Straight 6 * 6.6-liter V-8 These were connected to a 3-4 speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission. The luxury cars produced by Dodge of this era were a success for a while but went out of production by 1978. The charger had changed, it was currently no longer about raw American power, but comfort and class. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-41.jpeg] 1982–1987 FIFTH GEN DODGE CHARGER This generation also saw another impressively dramatic switch in design, now seemingly aiming for the economy car market. The Charger returned as an attempt at producing a subcompact hatchback coupe. The car was also front-wheel drive, something that is often not popular with muscle car enthusiasts. This fifth-gen Charger’s engines included: * 1.7-liter * 1.6-liter * 2.2-liter These engines, unlike previous years, put out less than 150 horsepower, even on the later sports models and with lower-end engines producing about half of that power. To put that in comparison, most initial first-gen Chargers had from 230 to over 400 horsepower (as rated at the time of production) V8 engines. The Dodge Shelby Charger trim was fitted with the larger engine and some sportier trims and additions. If you recognized the name, this was a Carroll Shelby-tuned version of the Charger. This was upgraded further with turbocharged power of 174 horsepower, a significant improvement on the earlier offerings. Shelby later upgraded this slightly more in the final Dodge Shelby Charger GLHS. However, this model put the Charger back out of production again in 1987, leaving a significant time gap before the Charger would be seen again in 2006. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-42.jpeg] 2006–2010 SIXTH GEN DODGE CHARGER A relaunch that was worthy of the original Chargers, their reputation, and looks being restored. Now produced as a four-door, this model brought back a lot of the muscle car styling that most want from a Dodge Charger. It also restores rear-wheel drive and an aggressive cross split grille. Hood flares and skirting only add to the sporty look. While it is clearly designed to be workable as an everyday car or family car even, it has a much meaner look than had been seen from the charger since 1974. The sloping roof is also back, although this time curving down into a deeper and beefier looking truck. The entire design is of a powerful and yet very solid sedan muscle car. An unusual blend, but one that seems to work. Unlike the previous attempt at a Charger come back in 1982, this version has some powerful engine choices: * 2.7-liter V-6 * 3.5-liter V-6 * 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 * 6.1-liter Hemi V-8 This series had a lot more options too, including AWD. The power outputs were also more similar to those of the earlier powerhouse years, churning out about 180-370 horsepower, depending on the year and options. All engines were connected to a 4-5 speed automatic transmission. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-43.jpeg] 2011–PRESENT SEVENTH GEN DODGE CHARGER Finally, the Dodge Charger seems to be settling on a style that works, at least for the present. They have returned to their roots, providing an aggressive muscle car, albeit with more comforts and styling inside. The flared wide-body styling is back, along with the famously feature grilles. It is also now available with not only engines that match the initial Gen 1-3 power levels but even exceed them in some editions. The main available engine setups are: * 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 * 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 * 6.2-liter Hellcat V-8 * 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 Earlier models were connected with the same 5-speed automatic transmission of the last release. However, most have a smoother and quicker eight-speed automatic. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-44.jpeg] From 2015 customers also got meaner offerings, including a 6.2-liter V-8 Hellcat with 707 horsepower and the 2021 Dodge Charger has a Hellcat Redeye setup, with 797 horsepower. The new Dodge Charger might be more practical as a daily car, but it certainly hasn’t let go of being a true muscle car and it seems things are only likely to continue in this direction for the Charger.

Virtual Reality in Car Design at Ford: Joel Piaskowski Interview

Virtual Reality in Car Design at Ford: Joel Piaskowski Interview

September 9, 2020

While the Covid pandemic caused many businesses to shutter and implement work-from-home operations, the supply chains for many industries (including automotive) came to a halt as factories paused production to ensure workers’ safety. Globally, supply and demand for many nonessential goods decreased as consumers hunkered indoors abiding by shelter-in-place mandates and limiting excursions to only necessary trips. Yet, other divisions and departments within industries pushed forward. While factory work might have been limited—or completely shut down—for other employees, it was simply business as usual, albeit from a home office…and perhaps an infusion of new technology. Ford’s Joel Piaskowski spoke with Automobile Magazine about how the company utilized virtual reality as designers worked from home to create new models. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-25.jpeg] VIRTUAL MODELING IN 3D Traditional automobile models are often rendered in clay, but Covid’s work-from-home office structure required that team leaders have a more integrated approach to design. Clay models could only be viewed via conference calls in 2D; however, a three-dimensional approach is necessary for directors to appropriately visualize and understand a concept model. With clay models momentarily crushed as an option, design teams had to utilize other ways to create and conceptualize these models. The solution for Ford was virtual reality. Piaskowski told the magazine that several company leaders/directors utilized virtual reality to preview designs for models. Meanwhile, designers were working from home via their company computers/software and creating the concepts that took life via virtual reality. VIEWING MODELS IN VIRTUAL REALITY For Ford, modeling in VR integrated some familiar backdrops. Piaskowski said in the interview that they had a 360-degree photo of a company courtyard that they used to display their virtual models. Avatars of directors also could swap into others’ positions within the VR landscape (to gain a different perspective), and Piaskowski also said in the interview that he could utilize a laser pointer in VR to draw attention to certain aspects of a model. All of these capabilities emphasize how technology has been embraced during the pandemic to continue normal business operations. Still, clay will continue to be necessary. Piaskowski stated in the interview: “Once it gets down to final sign off, it seems like clay is never going to go away…” However, when this element couldn’t be used in the earlier phases of the design layout, VR has been a convenient resource to ensure that the design aspect of the industry doesn’t come to a complete standstill. BEFORE THE PANDEMIC VIRTUAL REALITY WAS A RISING TECHNOLOGY Virtual reality in automotive design is a pivot that many other manufacturers have utilized…even before Covid forced many manufacturers to pivot to a virtual workspace. Grid Raster, which works with the automotive, aerospace and defense and technology manufacturers, conducted a survey to understand how companies are using VR “for greater production efficiencies and savings.” The survey gleaned more than 200 responses “from C-level and technology executives of mid-level and enterprise-level organizations”). The survey was conducted in late March of 2020, right around the time Covid shelter-in-place mandates began across the country. More than half of those who participated in the survey said that the company used VR/AR in design. More than a quarter noted that it was used for training employees, and more than half implemented VR for customer service (i.e. virtual visits). In a press release about the survey, Dijam Panigrahi, Grid Raster’s co-founder and Chief Operations Officer, noted that the Covid pandemic was likely to further boost the use of VR: “The recent COVID-19 pandemic may push this number further, especially as companies of all sizes look to implement more virtual design into their workflows to minimize human interaction on the production floor,” said Panigrahi in the press release. “It is encouraging that these companies are realizing the benefits that AR/VR offers, but scalability offers great challenges in many cases.” [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-26.jpeg] COVID’S IMPACT ON THE RISE OF VR IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY While Ford immersed its design efforts into a virtual world, the automotive industry also was forced to do a virtual pivot in other sectors as Covid’s devastating economic wave swamped the retail and manufacturing industries. Consumers were no longer visiting dealership lots to test drive new automobiles or preview new models in showrooms. As the shelter-in-place mandates took hold, many left their homes only for the essentials. And when cities slowly reopened, sanitizing and social distancing also meant limitations to the shopping experience. In response, car shopping went virtual. Dealerships offered those on the hunt for a new car a shopping experience powered by virtual reality technology. Some offered shoppers an online virtual test drive, while other apps let individuals schedule in-person test drives. Business Insider reported that dealerships also were bringing cars to individuals at home for a scheduled test drive. Virtual showrooms popped up online and provided shoppers with a unique glimpse of the dealership inventory. Companies like Relay Cars offered virtual showrooms that allowed shoppers to view the interior and exterior of different makes/models and even change paint hues. Convenience was a key factor in these virtual options. When consumers felt uncomfortable leaving home to shop, the experience had to alter to meet these needs. Of course, the pandemic forced the hand of many industries, too, concerning virtual options. Survival meant evolving to the unique climate and to the changing demands of the buyer. Dealerships had to abide by the state and local mandates related to Covid restrictions, but they also had to find a way to stay afloat. Virtual reality was safe, convenient and allowed for business to continue. [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/image-27.jpeg] DESIGN, CONVENIENCE AND THE FUTURE OF VR AFTER COVID Ford continued to design models in virtual reality during Covid, dealerships opted for VR tours and showrooms and buyers went online to shop for a new car. But will these trends continue post-pandemic? No one in the industry can predict what will or won’t happen with absolute certainty. However, Ford and other manufacturers utilized virtual reality before the pandemic. This trend will likely continue after the pandemic subsides. While Piaskowski noted that clay will remain necessary in the design phase, the use of VR allows directors a chance to explore new models in a different realm. Virtual reality enables a different three-dimensional view, and while, unlike clay, it isn’t a tangible material, VR does offer another form of exploration. Directors and leadership can step inside a virtual space and point to design flaws or explore different vantage points of a design. Models can be rotated and viewed in a familiar setting. When the world seemingly stopped, VR technology allowed business to continue. Designs that could have been abruptly halted had Covid hit 20 years ago could continue to be explored and revised. Designers could tweak elements, and leadership teams could counsel and discuss options to improve models. Virtual reality also will likely continue to have a firm footing on the automotive shopping experience, too. For the past several months, consumers have shifted to a new way of shopping and making purchases. While online shopping was already a leading force in the retail world, Covid forced many businesses to pivot to this virtual experience. Now consumers find that they can easily visit a dealership online and view different cars remotely. Before Covid, shopping for a car meant visiting a dealership, walking through the lot to inspect different models and then taking a test drive. Sometimes consumers may have felt pressure to make their decision promptly or maybe simply didn’t like the experience of the in-person car buying experience. With the onset of virtual reality for showrooms and test drives, the power shifted more to the consumer. Suddenly, shopping for a car could be relaxed. Looking through the inventory could be a leisurely experience done while having lunch or sitting in bed at night. Test drives could be scheduled online or via an app, and the model for that test drive could be delivered to the consumer. Even financing could be approved online. After Covid, many consumers may continue to shop virtually—even for bigger purchases like an automobile. The ease of clicking a vehicle, changing a paint hue and scheduling a virtual test drive may appeal to those who simply don’t have the time to visit a dealership. However, other consumers may have hesitated to explore the online shopping experience for an automobile. While dealerships moved to online experiences during Covid, some consumers might not have felt comfortable with a virtual experience. For these consumers, there may always be a preference for in-person shopping. The impact of Covid, however, may have forever altered the automotive world and paved the way for further virtual upgrades. The rise of VR may impact other areas of the industry in ways no one can predict. VR has already been utilized for safety tests. In addition, Porsche’s “Tech Live Look” incorporates virtual reality to help technicians with repairs. In the future, the automotive industry may see slick new test drive experiences where consumers can experience new models in a road environment of their choice. In fact, BMW already offered a virtual test drive on Mars! Virtual reality could be used in programs that actually take consumers into the showroom with a virtual salesperson. The future that many are awaiting, though, is the self-driving car—a vehicle powered by virtual reality. No one can accurately predict where the future will drive us, but virtual reality may likely hold the keys and take over the driver’s seat.