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The Future of the Automotive Industry is Connectivity

The Future of the Automotive Industry is Connectivity

April 21, 2021

The first automobile was invented in 1886 by Karl Benz, but cars were not widely accessible to consumers until over two decades later, when Henry Ford produced the Model T. Throughout its history, the automotive industry has constantly evolved as a result of new technological advancements. New technologies allowed manufacturers to incorporate various features into the design of automobiles, including car radios, electric windows, seat belts, air bags, on-board diagnostics, navigational systems, and more. Now, technology has sparked another radical transformation in the automotive industry. As a result, many experts believe that the future of the automotive industry is connectivity in the cockpit. What will a “connected” car look like? What connectivity trends should consumers expect? Here’s what you need to know: THE THREE COMPONENTS OF CONNECTED CARS  The fully connected car of the future will consist of three main components, which are: * Infotainment: The term “infotainment” is used to describe programming that informs and/or educates the vehicle’s passengers. In the future, connected cars will provide infotainment through heads-up displays (HUDs), audio, and in-car infotainment systems built into the dashboard. * Telematics: This term refers to the integration of telecommunications and information processing. This technology enables the long-distance sending and receiving of computerized data between your vehicle and the cloud. * Infrastructure: This term refers to the actual physical structure of the vehicle. A connected vehicle’s infrastructure may include various components such as sensors, cameras, and sonar.  Each of these three components plays an important role in keeping the vehicle connected. The infotainment component, which provides information and entertainment, is used to connect the vehicle to its driver and passengers.  The telematics component is used to connect your vehicle to the cloud, where data is stored and shared.  Finally, the infrastructure component is used to connect your vehicle to its surrounding environment so it can detect threats and hazards.   AUTOMOTIVE CONNECTIVITY TRENDS OF THE FUTURE It’s estimated that more than three-quarters of new vehicles will be connected to some degree by the year 2025. But what will a connected car be capable of doing? What changes should drivers expect in the cockpit? Experts predict that a number of trends will shape the future of connected cars. Some of the top connectivity trends include: * Autonomous Vehicles * Telematics to Monitor Driver Behavior & Vehicle Performance * Artificial Intelligence (AI) Interfaces * Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication * Connected Sensors * 5G * Brain-to-Vehicle Communication The Future of the Automotive Industry is Connectivity [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Autonomous-Vehicles.jpg] AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES The autonomous vehicle market is expected to grow by 60% by the year 2023. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that driverless vehicles will flood the roads in the next several years.  There are five different levels of driving automation, all of which rely on connectivity to operate. The levels are:  * Level 5: This represents fully automated vehicles, which are vehicles that can operate without assistance from human drivers.  * Level 4: Vehicles at this level can perform all tasks required for driving, but human drivers must establish a geofence first. * Level 3: This is the conditional automation level, where vehicles can detect hazards in their environment and perform most driving tasks. However, human drivers still need to override certain requests and actions in vehicles at this level. * Level 2: Many vehicles are designed with partial automation, or level 2 automation. These vehicles can perform specific tasks such as steering and acceleration, but human drivers can disable the automation and take complete control of the vehicle at any time.  * Level 1: This is known as the driver assistance level and is characterized by a single automated system such as cruise control. In the years ahead, experts believe that manufacturers will shift their focus from the lower levels to the upper levels of automation. TELEMATICS TO MONITOR DRIVER BEHAVIOR & VEHICLE PERFORMANCE Telematics technology allows the vehicle to send and receive data to the cloud. In the future, experts believe that this technology will be used to gather data on driver behavior and vehicle performance. For example, automotive dealerships may use this technology to collect data on a vehicle’s tire pressure or oil level in real time. The dealership could monitor this data and contact the driver when it’s time to schedule a maintenance appointment. Or the dealership could even automatically schedule an appointment for the driver when the data suggests that maintenance is needed. Insurance companies could also use this technology to monitor a policyholder’s behavior behind the wheel. This technology may allow an insurance company to find out if the driver drives at excessive speeds, slams on their brakes frequently, or fails to use their turning signals. Insurance companies could analyze this data to calculate new premiums for policyholders, which would reward safe drivers and penalize reckless drivers.  These are some of the many ways in which telematics technology could be used in connected cars in the future. The Future of the Automotive Industry is Connectivity [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Artificial-Intelligence.jpg] ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) INTERFACES Artificial intelligence, or AI, is the simulation of human intelligence in computers. This technology allows a machine to learn from its mistakes, adjust to changes in its environment, and complete many tasks. Fully autonomous vehicles will rely on AI technology to operate. However, experts predict that AI will be used in vehicles of all automation levels in the future. Automotive manufacturers may use AI technology to incorporate virtual personal assistants into their vehicles’ infotainment systems. These virtual assistants would function like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa by responding to voice commands, retrieving information, and answering questions. This would make it easier for a driver to pull up directions to their destination or find a local gas station without taking their eyes off of the road. This technology could be used to help people stay connected to their work while on the road. In 2020, Salesforce introduced its vision for a “mobile office,” which was a car equipped with an AI-supported infotainment system. This system allowed the driver to access various business applications, including a CRM platform, so they could perform marketing and sales activities using only their voice.  VEHICLE-TO-VEHICLE COMMUNICATION As its name suggests, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology allows vehicles to communicate with one another on the road. This doesn’t mean that a driver in one vehicle will be able to communicate with the driver next to them. Instead, the vehicles will communicate with one another by sending and receiving data related to traffic, road conditions, weather, and other factors. But that’s not all. Industry insiders believe that this technology will be combined with vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology in vehicles over the next several years. Together, these technologies would allow a vehicle to communicate with other vehicles in addition to traffic lights and other types of infrastructure. Experts believe that the combination of V2V and V2X technology will improve the driving experience for everyone by reducing congestion on the roads. V2V and V2X communication could also make the roads safer. In fact, it’s estimated that these technologies could prevent around 81% of all traffic accidents.  Experts predict that every new vehicle will be built with V2V technology by the end of the year 2023. Then, automotive manufacturers will most likely start adding V2X technology to vehicles soon after. The Future of the Automotive Industry is Connectivity [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Connected-Sensors.jpg] CONNECTED SENSORS Many vehicles on the road today are equipped with sensors that are used to provide drivers with information on their immediate surroundings. For example, if your vehicle beeps when you are about to back into something, this means it is built with sensors. But in the future, sensors on connected vehicles will be used in new and exciting ways.  Some vehicles today are already designed with sensors that warn drivers of safety hazards such as icy roads, potholes, or pedestrians. In the future, these sensors will do more than just warn drivers of hazards in their path. They will also be capable of analyzing the data to determine what changes need to be made to keep everyone in the vehicle safe.  For example, a sensor might detect a patch of ice in the road ahead. In the future, this sensor may be able to quickly calculate how far away the icy patch is from the vehicle and when the vehicle should start braking in order to avoid sliding on it. Then, the sensor may either notify the driver when it’s time to brake or automatically apply the brakes at the appropriate time.  This is one of many ways in which sensors could make the roads less dangerous in the future. 5G 5G is the newest generation of wireless network technology. This advanced technology is capable of transmitting mass amounts of data more efficiently than previous generations, including 4G LTE technology. Whereas 4G technology can reach speeds of 50mbps, 5G technology is capable of reaching speeds of 20gbps. It will also reduce latency, which is the delay between the user’s action and the computer’s response, from 50 milliseconds to less than one millisecond. This technology has the power to completely transform the automotive industry. Gartner, a research and advisory company, predicts that nearly three-quarters of vehicles will be connected to 5G by 2023. This number is expected to grow even further to 94% by the year 2028. 5G technology will increase the coverage of wireless networks around the world, which means it will be easier for vehicles to stay connected even when traveling in remote areas. This technology will also make vehicles capable of quickly and efficiently performing many “connected” tasks, including automation, data collection, and AI-supported problem solving. BRAIN-TO-VEHICLE COMMUNICATION Another trend that experts expect to appear in connected cars in the future is brain-to-vehicle communication technology. This technology would use sensors to record the driver’s brain wave activity. Then, the vehicle will analyze this data to identify issues or predict what the driver is going to do next. For example, this technology may be used to detect when a driver is getting drowsy. If the driver’s brain wave pattern indicates drowsiness, the vehicle could alert the driver to pull off the road. Fatigue is a leading cause of traffic accidents, so this could potentially prevent thousands of collisions.  Nissan introduced a prototype of its brain-to-vehicle system in 2018. This system measured the driver’s brain waves to determine what maneuvers they would make next. For instance, the system is capable of detecting brain waves that trigger movement of the hands or feet. If these brain waves were detected, the system would quickly analyze this data to determine if the driver was about to hit the gas, apply the brakes, or turn the steering wheel. The vehicle could then initiate the action before the driver does to reduce the reaction time. Even though Nissan has already started testing this technology, experts believe that there’s still a long way to go before it is widely accessible to automotive consumers. The Future of the Automotive Industry is Connectivity [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/The-Benefits-of-Connectivity-in-the-Cockpit.jpg] THE BENEFITS OF CONNECTIVITY IN THE COCKPIT There are many benefits to increasing connectivity in vehicles. Perhaps the biggest benefit of connectivity is it allows consumers to stay connected to their devices at all times–even when they’re on the road. Staying connected is often viewed as an essential need in today’s world, and connected cars would allow consumers to truly stay plugged in wherever they go. Experts believe that technologies such as V2V communication and AI could help drivers avoid accidents. If this is the case, connected vehicles could potentially save thousands of lives every year.  Connectivity may make the driving experience more enjoyable, too. Thanks to connectivity, drivers and passengers will have access to more information and entertainment than ever before. Drivers can use this information to steer clear of traffic congestion, get directions, and avoid safety hazards, whereas passengers could use this technology to watch videos, use apps, or enjoy other forms of entertainment until they reach their final destination. Maintaining a connected car would also be much easier for car owners. Experts believe these vehicles will be equipped with technologies that monitor a vehicle’s performance to identify potential issues and determine when maintenance is needed. Car owners would not need to remember the date of their last oil change. Instead, they would simply need to wait for their vehicle to tell them when it’s time for the next one. There’s no telling when automotive manufacturers will debut the first fully connected vehicle to consumers. But one thing is for certain: the arrival of the first fully connected vehicle will completely transform the consumer driving experience.

What is an Augmented Reality Car Dealership?

What is an Augmented Reality Car Dealership?

April 19, 2021

Augmented and virtual reality are gaining popularity, both in the gaming world and for use by businesses to heighten the user experience. According to data from Research and Markets, virtual and augmented reality is projected to reach revenues that will represent a 42.9 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the period of 2020-2030. These figures represent worldwide revenue. Covid may have exacerbated the popularity and use of this technology as many businesses jumped online for survival. Even car dealerships began to embrace the augmented and virtual realms. Augmented reality car dealerships are accessible to shoppers online or via apps. However, these augmented experiences and their features may vary in design and in what they offer shoppers. WHAT ARE AUGMENTED REALITY CAR DEALERSHIPS? When consumers picture an augmented car dealership, they might have a space-age notion in mind. Augmented car dealerships, in reality (pun intended), may look different depending on the company and brand. There isn’t really an augmented reality car dealership, although in the future there could be this type of unique dealership. In our present world, however, there are augmented reality showrooms. And these showrooms may vary in design and function. Some showrooms feature augmented reality, others may use virtual reality. Auto manufacturers might offer their own augmented or virtual reality showrooms and local dealerships may refer shoppers to these showrooms. For example, Renault (in the United Kingdom) offers a virtual showroom. Individual dealerships offer their own virtual or augmented reality experiences. Tempe Honda (in Tempe, Ariz.) offers a virtual showroom on its website. The dealership also invites shoppers to schedule a virtual test drive, lets buyers apply for financing online…and more. The car buying experience can be ‘virtually’ simple. While many experiences online may seem ‘virtual,’ augmented reality showrooms are a reality, too. Unlike virtual reality, which takes users into a virtual realm for the experience, augmented reality includes graphic overlays atop a real-life environment. With augmented reality, a car can be set on top of a table, in the garage or in a garden. In January 2021, Engadget reported that Jeep would offer an augmented reality experience that was powered by Google. With the augmented reality experience, Engadget explained that users can peek inside the Jeep Wrangler 4XE and drop the vehicle into their personal space.  The experience was set to debut at CES, but it will be available via Google Search, too. And, as often noted, Lamborghini launched an augmented reality experience to showcase its Huracán Spyder AWD. Users could visit Lamborghini’s website with an Apple device and see the new vehicle displayed in their own environment. The Huracán could be dropped anywhere. Users could then walk around the car and check out the interior. The website also included an interactive space to view more data about the vehicle and a video, too. Again, while dealerships sometimes had their own online augmented reality showroom, sometimes manufacturers provided the experiences for interested buyers. These weren’t necessarily augmented reality dealerships but, rather, augmented reality experiences that could enhance the shopping journey before consumers visited a brick and mortar dealership. AUGMENTED REALITY CAR APP Virtual and augmented reality car showrooms are often featured via a dealership or manufacturer’s website. However, this isn’t always the case. Some manufacturers go high-tech and launch their own app. Private companies also created apps that feature virtual and augmented reality showrooms. Some manufacturers use augmented reality for marketing purposes…and entertainment, too. For example, in 2017, Little Black Book reported that Nissan dealerships would feature an app that integrated Star Wars characters. The site explained that at the dealership, shoppers could choose from three vehicles—the Rogue, Maxima, and TITAN. A character from Star Wars would go over the new tech features of these automobiles with the user. This app experience was dubbed “See the Unseen,” as the highlighted vehicle features (like Blind Spot Warning) aren’t necessarily seen by the user…so the character helps to introduce them. Back in 2018, Daimler introduced the Mercedes cAR app, which allowed customers to use augmented reality to explore vehicles and create their own. The coolest aspect of the app was that users could actually drive the car in their environment. The cAR app amped up the user experience to create not just an augmented reality type of showroom but also added a bit of augmented reality remote control fun. The remote, however, was the user’s phone or other device! The app is, unfortunately, no longer available for download. Before Covid hit, Porsche launched its own augmented reality app. Back in May 2019, Car and Driver reported that the app Porsche AR Visualiser would allow users to check out a new Porsche at home. The app is still available via the App Store and Google Play. Create a Porsche and drop it in the real world environment. Users can now see how that new Porsche looks in the garage! RelayCars offers both an augmented reality app and a virtual reality app. Users can choose the technology they prefer to preview their potential new car. With RelayCar’s augmented reality app, users can drop a variety of different cars into their home, garage, driveway…or anywhere. With the virtual reality app, users preview the vehicles in a virtual showroom. In the virtual showroom, users can swap out paint hues and check out the interior of the vehicles. The augmented reality showroom offers similar features. Augmented Reality Car Dealership [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Augmented-Reality-Car.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY CAR In these augmented reality experiences, how does the augmented reality car look? Many augmented reality showrooms and experiences are somewhat similar in design. That is, many of them allow users to drop vehicles anywhere…so the user’s world becomes the showroom. The appearance of the vehicle is a scaled representation of the actual vehicle. Augmented reality showcases the car as it would appear in real life. However, the car will be smaller in the augmented form. Even the interior is an exact replica of the real vehicle. This allows users to understand the appearances and features of each vehicle. Both augmented reality and virtual reality showrooms are designed to provide users (i.e. shoppers) with a remote and virtual replication of the in-store or in-dealership shopping experience. While the car can’t be physically touched, users can peek inside cars and get a visual idea of each vehicle. They can check out the interior design, view the information panel and peer in the backseat. Some augmented reality apps or experiences let the user create their own car. So, in this case, users can see what their final design will look like in reality. These more detailed and personalized experiences can be helpful to buyers who are looking to envision a more customized vehicle. Even consumers who can’t afford Porsche can download the app and build a model of their dream car. Who knows? That dream could be a reality. The cool part about these augmented reality experiences is that they sometimes allow users to play around with possibilities. This could be more difficult to do in the actual dealership. COULD AUGMENTED REALITY DEALERSHIPS APPEAR IN THE FUTURE? While an actual augmented reality dealership isn’t a current reality, maybe it could be one day. Or maybe the future is a virtual reality dealership! As technology becomes more affordable, consumers could begin to wear augmented reality goggles or glasses or virtual reality headsets. Shopping experiences could go completely online…and virtual. Imagine shopping for a new vehicle while wearing a pair of augmented reality glasses or a virtual reality headset. Perhaps an avatar of a salesperson appears and shoppers build their cars in a virtual showroom realm or in their own living room. Could that new car be created while standing in the garage? Social media sites like Snapchat could be the future of augmented reality car shopping, too. In fact, Auto News talked to Shane Dwyer, head of automotive for Snap, Inc., and gained some interesting insight. The site noted that there could be a day in the future where consumers could create their cars via Snapchat in augmented reality. Auto News also cited a Snap study that revealed that a quarter of Snapchat users who participated in the study were “very or somewhat interested” in augmented reality on their phones to do a test drive or research a car. The possibilities of augmented reality or virtual reality are likely endless. Twenty years ago, the idea of a smartphone would have blown people’s minds. Today, almost everyone owns one or has access to a smart device. Even teens! The concept of an augmented reality car dealership or one that exists in a virtual space might not be so out of reach. The question, though, is buyers and shoppers. Many buyers like the in-person experience. This could remain an option. Maybe in-person shopping will never really go out of style. But the rise of augmented and virtual reality could point to a greater use of this technology. For now, however, virtual and augmented reality showrooms provide a unique way for consumers to shop for a new car. The journey for a new vehicle can begin leisurely online. Shoppers can research different makes and models and preview them from the comfort of home using virtual or augmented reality experiences. Some dealerships may allow the shopping experience to be done online, too. During Covid, these experiences could be preferred to limit possible exposure. Even as Covid and the restrictions associated with the pandemic ease, sites like RelayCars and other virtual and augmented reality showrooms may continue to be popular. Shopping online has become—for some—kind of like wearing comfy sweatpants…a hard habit to break!

Categories: Augmented Reality
2021 Technology Trends in the Automotive Industry

2021 Technology Trends in the Automotive Industry

April 16, 2021

The automotive sector has experienced a wide range of changes in the past year, particularly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the industry as a whole is undergoing a major transformation away from traditional manufacturing and sales strategies. Instead, 2021 technology trends in the automotive industry are taking a turn toward a more mobile, virtually connected environment.  From corporate decision-making to how automotive employees will continue to work, technology is continuing to drive the automotive sphere into the future.  Read on to learn more about the technology trends in the automotive industry that will continue to catalyze this market around the world. Technology Trends in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Mergers-and-Acquisitions.jpg] 1. MORE MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS The start of the pandemic created a stressful environment for automakers and retailers in 2020. While the economic decline has led to a drop in revenue among many top brands, companies have expressed an interest in collaboration to soften the blow.  For brands that have experienced these difficulties, synergizing brands could pose a creative solution that will allow continued growth, innovation, and profitability.  In 2020, automotive deal value and respective volume declined by 32%. This is a sharp change from the 18% rate the industry experienced in 2019. However, that doesn’t mean that synergistic decisions have come to a halt. Experts expect this volatility to continue into this year, but there are a few core changes in the market itself that could lead to a positive shift in alliances and joint ventures among leading and emerging names in the auto sphere. Automotive companies across virtually every corner of the market are shifting their resources to promote progressive ingenuity and corporate expansion. This includes everything from webbed acquisitions, to EV adoption, to integration into the world of driverless vehicles. In fact, 70% of the top deals conducted last year held EV and autonomous technology at the precipice. This growth wasn’t only experienced in North America and Europe, but also Asia and the Middle East as well.  As individual governments prioritize the growth of sustainable and tech-forward driving, we’re sure to see a continued influx of activity within the autonomous and electric vehicle sectors. Technology Trends in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Electric-Vehicle-Growth.jpg] 2. ELECTRIC VEHICLE GROWTH ACROSS NORTH AMERICA, ASIA, AND EUROPE Like previously mentioned, renewable energy is a hot-button topic among established and growing automotive companies. As more and more counties boost their requirements for emission reduction, interest in electric vehicles has grown substantially – and is sure to stick around. Europe has long been seen as the leader in renewable automotive technology, and many countries already have regulations in place to limit the use of gas-powered vehicles on the road. European governments have expressed a strong commitment to lowering CO2 emissions across the continent, which has largely driven success in the EV market. However, Asia and North America are catching up for a variety of reasons. Across the Asian continent, China continues to make up at least 90% of the market share in this growing sphere. But, that growth is expected to surge throughout the rest of the Asia-Pacific region, at a CAGR of at least 31%, over the next few years.  India, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, and ASEAN countries are already building a steady interest in the growth of EV, even though manufacturing capacity is still significantly behind China.  When it comes to supply chain management and polymer development, China is helping to drive and respond to the already heavy demand for EV advancement in the region.  North America’s EV market is a bit more muddled, but there is already a saturated market demand for affordable, accessible electric vehicles – even though the region is known for its dependence on fossil fuels. Popular brands that are already offering EV models in the 2021 marketplace include: * American Honda Motor Company * BMW North America * Ford Motor Company * Tesla Motors * Volkswagen Group of America * Volvo Group North America * Jaguar Land Rover Limited Due to the increasing demand for efficient and easily attainable electric cars and trucks, plus the current American administration’s push for plentiful charging stations, more drivers across the continent are considering adding an electric vehicle to their fleet. Technology Trends in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/EV-Platforms-and-Start-Ups.jpg] 3. EV PLATFORMS AND START-UPS  Big Box brands like Tesla, BMW, and Ford might be making news in the EV and tech development realms, but startups are also creating noise in both segments of the automotive sector.  In response to growing consumer demand for smart and efficient consumer vehicles, these startups show a high level of potential in the 2021 market and beyond: * Tangram * Hey Charge * Fibre Coat * Harpocrates * blackshark.ai * Surge Analytics * Eve Autonomy While COVID-19 has heavily impacted the success of auto sales around the globe, this change has led to the widespread integration of technology throughout the entire production process.  From initial ideation to the showroom, artificial intelligence and immersive media is helping auto brands, developers, and customers to connect like never before. This shift toward tech in the automotive industry has helped retailers and buyers stay active during 2020’s economic downturn, while also shifting the public’s perception of smart capabilities in private transportation.  AI is being used by leading car companies to help consumers find their ideal vehicle, make the driving experience safer, protect their new investment, and more. With just a smartphone and a data connection, consumers can: * Purchase and finance a vehicle online * Manipulate customizations via digital renders * Lock, unlock and track their car * Check vehicle metrics and specs in real-time * Safely manage navigation, entertainment, and maintenance information * Drive more efficiently by utilizing machine learning and AR sensors simultaneously Additionally, the integration of tech in electric vehicles makes it easier to locate charging points, monitor charge levels, and even control features in the car in a truly hands-free way. Startups in the automotive industry have taken notice of these trends, and are incorporating consumer trends to create products that meet industry specifications, local regulations, and buyer demand. Technology Trends in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Self-Driving-Cars.jpg] 4. SELF-DRIVING CARS Tesla has been the primary autonomous vehicle provider in recent years, but a wide range of retailers and brands are jumping onto this bandwagon. As a result, 2021 is shaping up to be the biggest year for self-driving cars.  Multiple industries, from solar to 5G connectivity, are helping to drive this growth. Autonomous vehicles are no longer a pipe dream for wealthy tech moguls and sci-fi fanatics. In fact, the growth of self-driving cars is creating a zero-based ownership model that could open the roads to more consumers than ever before.  Eliminating the human element from the driving process has the potential to make roads safer and more efficient, largely by eliminating distractions in the same stroke.  Driverless vehicles, or robotaxis, could become the new normal in addition to self-driving consumer cars. Waymo, one of the primary providers in this sphere, took more than 100,000 trips in 2019 alone. Last year, this number climbed to more than 5% of the public market share among robotaxis – or 6.1 million miles on the road. Since the technology is so new, there is limited data available regarding accident prevention and other safety information. But, self-driving public rideshare services show strong potential for reducing accidents, traffic stoppages, and other hindrances on the road. Although Waymo was the first company to launch this type of semi-public transit, more and more brands are seeing the demand for simplified, safer autonomous travel.  Those who want to own a piece of this technology have more options, as well. In addition to Tesla, these brands plan to offer some form of self-driving capabilities for mainstream consumers in 2021: * Ford * BMW * Alphabet * Voyage * Pony.ai * Volvo This technology is far from perfect, but it could create a piece of the automotive market that’s ideal for busy commuters, groups, and long-haul travelers all at the same time. Technology Trends in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Micromobilty-Trumps-Mass-Public-Transit.jpg] 5. MICROMOBILTY TRUMPS MASS PUBLIC TRANSIT Have you noticed that a variety of bicycles, scooters, and other small-scale transportation methods are popping up in cities around the world? While on your daily commute, lunch break, or shopping run you’ve likely come across a group of branded, cell phone-enabled micro vehicles on most busy street corners. Micromobility is the next wave of public transportation, and this movement has the potential to supersede standard mass transit in the near future.  Rather than opting for the train or bus, individual travelers can activate a single-occupant vehicle to get from point A to point B.  Common types of micromobility include: * E-bikes * Standard bikes * Motorized scooters * E-scooters * Skateboard lock stations * Ultra-compact EV units * Segways * Hoverboards Whether you’re looking for a daily method of transportation or you want to explore the area on your weekend vacation, micromobility removes a lot of the stress that comes with getting around.  This form of travel eliminates the need for costly parking, expensive vehicle rates and insurances, and even a driver’s license in some cases. Additionally, it’s proven to be the ideal solution for social distancing while maintaining standard travel rates during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Rather than owning the vehicle outright, users instead are able to connect to a publicly housed unit using an app on their smartphone and a connected method of payment. Leading companies are able to take payment information online including credit cards, mobile wallets, and even cryptocurrencies. As a result, users are able to pick up any charged units that are available in public spaces, and they can typically drop off the vehicles wherever they see fit.  Certain options, like microcars and some bicycles, need to be left in designated areas. However, comprehensive mobile apps and account-based connectivity make it easy to find the closest drop off area or the nearest available rental unit with information like: * Charge level  * Driving proximity * Drop-off options * Session duration Micromobility has also proven to be more efficient than comparable transportation methods, in a few different ways. Compared to the personal use of vehicles, electric scooters and bicycles produce virtually no emissions – and these services don’t rely on the use of fossil fuels. Both individual and shared micromobility options are also more efficient than shared mass transit vehicles, including subways, trains, and busses. Personal consumers aren’t the only people being marketed to by these growing tech giants. Delivery staff and couriers can use this same technology to continue to work when renting or buying a personal car or truck is not feasible. For private individuals who only want to use a vehicle on an as-needed basis, micromobility solutions are a commitment-free option.  In 2019, one of the top e-scooter companies achieved more than 50 million trips in just two years following their launch in 2017. Now, there are dozens of brands on the market. Between scooter, bike, and similar services, usage among micromobility consumers has risen by more than 9% compared to pre-pandemic levels. With much of the world committing to a low-emission lifestyle, to be in effect as early as 2030, micromobility could be the best way for mainstream consumers to bridge the gap. Where walking and rollerskating isn’t feasible, electric options like scooters and e-bikes can allow individuals to travel longer distances without the cost, waste, or hassle of traditional methods.  Does this mean that consumers are not interested in purchasing standard vehicles? Absolutely not. But, micromobility is a sound solution for those who are outside of the margins set by auto brands and retailers across the board. Technology is changing the way we live, and the way we get around. While much of the world is still operating online, it’s just a matter of time before roads and travel pathways are just as bustling as before. To respond to the increased need for interconnected smart devices, accessible travel, and eco-friendly transportation – technology is proving to be the tipping point for consumers across virtually every target demographic. These technology trends in the automotive industry are setting the tone for consumers across the new, pre-owned, and shared public segments of the market.

The Future of Car Safety

The Future of Car Safety

April 15, 2021

Cars didn’t always include seat belts. Some even remember when back seat passengers only had to use a lap belt; eventually, shoulder straps became the norm throughout the car. Moms once held babies in the front seat, but soon car seats became standard (and part of the law). Technology’s evolution also has influenced car safety features. The future of car safety may include some incredibly high-tech offerings. But even today’s vehicles feature technology that would have seriously impressed older generations. Buckle up and let’s check out today’s safety features and what the future might have in store for a safer ride. The Future of Car Safety [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Dangers-on-the-Road.jpg] WHEN CARS COLLIDE: A LOOK AT DANGERS ON THE ROAD Car accidents can happen for so many reasons: driver error, distractions, a medical emergency, or even the weather. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 33,654 fatal car accidents in 2018, and, according to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 2,800 individuals were killed because of distracted driving that same year. In 2019, the deaths for distracted driving increased slightly, with distractions behind the deaths of 3,142 individuals. As smartphones have pervaded our culture and hitched a ride in most vehicles, the issue of distracted driving has become more prominent. It isn’t uncommon to see someone on their cell phone while driving, and texting while driving also contributes to distractions. Public service campaigns have tried to raise awareness of the issue, and phone manufacturers have even equipped phones with functions that disable the phone during the drive. However, cars and automotive safety features might also be adapting to help make the drive safer. The Future of Car Safety [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Safety-Needs-of-a-Wired-World.jpg] HOW VEHICLES ADAPTED TO THE SAFETY NEEDS OF A WIRED WORLD Automotive manufacturers understand that we live in a wired world. When almost all teens have access to a smartphone, the device has seemingly become the norm. Teens and older adults alike have become so dependent on their phones that some even develop a Fear of Missing Out (or FOMO) when their phones aren’t accessible. The smartphone is the gateway to communication. The phone allows users to text, send email, surf the internet, play games, stream music and videos and update our social media accounts. Most modern smartphones even have built-in rulers, they can monitor health data (like steps per day) and include a calendar to track all those daily appointments. The smartphone is everything rolled into one, and this is why most adults can’t often easily part with it…not even in the car. While the statistics related to distracted driving remain concerning, car manufacturers are stepping up the safety game as they embed vehicles with unique technologies that keep drivers and passengers safer during the drive. While talking or having a conversation in general can be a distraction, the act of reaching for a phone or holding it up to the ear might be more concerning while trying to navigate. Many modern vehicles, though, now allow the smartphone to connect to the car’s infotainment screen. Drivers can make calls hands-free using voice commands. They can also send texts and stream music without touching their phone. Fender benders in parking lots are all too common. So are little scrapes and bumps when cars are trying to back out of a tight parking spot. Manufacturers, likely noting how common even little accidents occur, began to equip vehicles with cameras that provide visual aid and guidance to drivers who might be lacking in depth perception. Backup and front end cameras show the surrounding areas of the car via a screen in the car’s infotainment system. Augmented reality grid lines detail the car’s turning radius, so drivers can predict their maneuvers. In addition, warning signals might sound if the car gets too close to an obstacle while parking or maneuvering. Camera intelligence allows drivers to see what might have been hidden and adjust their movements accordingly. Many vehicles also include automatic stop functions when a car comes to close to an obstacle like another car. The car doesn’t wait for the driver to react, instead the sensors signal to the car to immediately stop. In this way, the car’s safety system allows accidents to be avoided. CALLING FOR HELP Even with the best safety features, accidents may still happen. Some crashes may result in the driver losing consciousness, unable to call for help. Many vehicles now include safety systems like OnStar that not only alert drivers of potential mechanical problems with their car but call for emergency help when necessary. When a crash occurs, OnStar’s sensors detect the accident and the system calls for help. The Future of Car Safety [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/shutterstock_1232842306.jpg] BABY IN THE BACKSEAT In 2020, 24 children died from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle. Leaving a baby or a young child in the backseat has become a common fear among parents. Today’s cars now include a warning message that appears on the car’s infotainment system after the driver shuts off the ignition. There also might be a warning signal that sounds along with the message. Typically the screen will include a reminder to check the backseat. These messages and reminders are just another way that car manufacturers are adjusting to the needs of consumers. Hopefully, the warnings will decrease the likelihood that a parent forgets a child in the backseat. AUTOMATIC PARKING Not every driver is proficient in perfect parking. For some, parallel parking may be a near impossibility. One of the newer safety features in cars is automatic parking. This autonomous feature is a bit like a self-driving car, only the car just maneuvers into a parking spot. Unfortunately, the system isn’t completely autonomous. According to MotorTrend, the driver still has to manage the brake and gas functions. However, the car will maneuver into that tight space. Even better? Once the parking function is activated, the car can find the parking spot, too! SAFETY FEATURES OF THE FUTURE Technology evolves, and every consumer understands how quickly technology becomes outdated. The safety functions in today’s cars will likely seem prehistoric in a few years. So what will future safety features look like in tomorrow’s vehicles? We mention Nissan’s Invisible-to Visible (I2V) technology often. However, when it comes to predicting future safety components of automobiles, Nissan’s developing technology could be a good road map. Through I2V, drivers would be alerted of obstacles up ahead (or seemingly hidden). This obviously could reduce the possibility of an accident. I2V also would let drivers connect with others in the ‘metaverse.’ Friends or family could join the journey as an avatar. In an abstract sense, this could improve safety as it would allow friends to keep drivers from nodding off or help them remain upbeat on the drive. Professional driving instructors also could appear in the car to help during the journey, too. Modern car designs also include heads-up displays that integrate augmented reality data. This technology could become the norm, with drivers being shown directions before their eyes via augmented reality overlays. There also are stories detailing Apple’s patent for an augmented reality windshield. The patent talks about drivers FaceTiming in the car (an autonomous vehicle). THE SELF-DRIVING CAR The ultimate car safety feature of the future is likely going to be the self-driving (autonomous) car. However, it may be some time for manufacturers to develop a safe autonomous vehicle that is appropriate for the consumer market. Robotaxis are, however, being tested in multiple cities. A self-driving car might be considered the ultimate in safety because it eliminates human error. A safe self-driving car, though, would need to be able to predict every type of driving scenario and adjust without hesitation. Think about a blinking stop light and how many drivers have no idea whose turn it is to pass through the light. When technology (even a simple stop light) glitches, a tiny issue can result in chaos. Ideally, a self-driving car would include many built-in safety components and driver comforts, too. Seat belts would likely still be necessary (accidents could be rare, but they would likely still happen). Cars may be equipped with a full body of sensors and cameras. Perhaps cars connect to satellites for additional navigation data. When will a self-driving car become a reality? It could be years for such a car to hit the consumer market. We will likely experience the robotaxi or other autonomous e-hail services first, and this could be a predictor for how these types of vehicles will fare. The self-driving car might simply be a ‘when’ not an ‘if.’ Too many tech giants are scrambling to perfect this type of vehicle, and it might be the future of the highways. Perhaps it might be better to ask who or which company will be the first to perfect a safe and reliable autonomous vehicle. Will it be Tesla? For now, the industry will continue to evolve with technology. Safety features may continue to adapt to drivers’ needs and more advanced safety systems may be integrated in the future. Just don’t expect cars to drive themselves just yet…although, they may be able to park without a human!

An Analysis of Subscription Services in the Automotive Industry

An Analysis of Subscription Services in the Automotive Industry

April 14, 2021

The subscription service business model has been around for decades. In the past, there wasn’t much for consumers to subscribe to besides newspapers and magazines. But these days, there are subscription services for food, clothing, cosmetics, TV shows, music, workout classes, and even razor blades. As a result, consumers are often subscribed to more services than they can count. The subscription service business model is becoming increasingly popular in many different economic sectors, including the automotive industry. How is the automotive industry using the subscription service business model? Is offering a subscription service a profitable venture for automotive companies?   AN OVERVIEW OF THE SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE BUSINESS MODEL Most businesses use a transactional business model, which involves charging consumers for the products or services they use in a single transaction. But a subscription business model does not involve a single transaction. Instead, consumers pay a fixed amount on a regular basis in order to access all of the products or services offered by a company. Most subscription-based services charge consumers these recurring fees either monthly or annually.  Consumers who pay this recurring fee are known as subscribers. As long as they continue to pay the fee, they can continue to access all of the products or services that the company has to offer. But if they stop paying the fee, they are no longer subscribed, which means they can no longer access these products or services. There are three main types of subscription services: replenishment, curation, and access. Replenishment subscription services provide consumers with recurring deliveries of certain products such as diapers, razors, or dog food. Curation subscription services provide consumers with a variety of new items or personalized experiences. For example, consumers who sign up to receive subscription beauty boxes will receive a curated selection of cosmetic items every month. Access subscription services give subscribers exclusive access to lower prices, special perks, or certain products or services. Netflix and other streaming platforms are perfect examples of access subscription services. All three types of subscription services are popular among consumers, but the automotive industry primarily uses the access subscription service model. Subscription Services in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Subscription-Services-in-the-Automotive-Industry.jpg] SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY The automotive industry currently uses the subscription service business model in these two distinct ways: * In-Car Services * Car Ownership IN-CAR SERVICES Many automotive manufacturers now use the subscription-based business model to offer consumers access to exclusive in-car services.  One example of this type of subscription service is Mercedes Me Connect, which is offered to consumers who own Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Car owners who subscribe to this service will gain access to various services, including: * Remote engine start * Remote door lock/unlock * Remote diagnostics * In-vehicle access to certain apps, including Yelp and Google * Vehicle locator * Updated vehicle data, including fuel levels, tire pressure, mileage, and more * Smartphone-to-car communication Mercedes-Benz also offers several other types of subscription services, including Mercedes Me Entertain, which gives subscribers access to iHeart Radio and an in-vehicle WiFi spot, and Mercedes Me Secure, which offers automatic collision and alarm notifications, emergency call capabilities, and more. Each of these services has its own monthly fee. For example, Mercedes Me Secure is $199 per year and Mercedes Me Entertain is $18 per month. Mercedes-Benz owners who don’t pay these subscription fees cannot access these services, which means they miss out on a lot of the features that their vehicle has to offer.  BMW also plans on launching a subscription service that allows consumers to access certain in-car features. Last year, the automotive manufacturer revealed that all vehicles would be designed with certain add-on features such as heated steering wheels and adaptive cruise control. However, BMW owners will only be able to use these features if they pay a monthly subscription fee. BMW owners could activate these features at any time by subscribing to this service.  This subscription service would allow BMW owners to pick which features they want to pay for and which they don’t need. But the announcement was met with considerable backlash from consumers who were not receptive to the idea of paying for features that are built into a vehicle they purchased. These consumers believe the purchase price of the vehicle should cover the use of all of its features. Subscription Services in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Car-Ownership.jpg] CAR OWNERSHIP In the past, automotive consumers who wanted to use a vehicle for an extended period of time typically had to choose between buying or leasing one. But a third option is now available to these consumers: subscribing to a car service. Automotive consumers who subscribe to this type of service must pay a monthly fee in exchange for unlimited access to a specific vehicle. Subscribers don’t technically own the vehicle, but they can use it as much as they would like while subscribed to the service.  Subscribing to a car service may sound similar to leasing a car, but there are several differences. First, a car subscription service is far more flexible and typically offers shorter terms than a lease.  Second, a monthly subscription fee covers more than just the use of the vehicle. In most cases, it also covers insurance, roadside assistance, and maintenance services. This makes access to a personal vehicle far more affordable for the average automotive consumer. Some car subscription services also give consumers the chance to switch vehicles at any time during their subscription. For example, a consumer may want to drive a SUV during the week, but switch to a sporty sedan or convertible on the weekends. All of this would be covered by the monthly fee. A number of automotive manufacturers have already launched car subscription services. BMW launched its subscription service, Access by BMW, in select markets in 2019. Mercedes-Benz also tested out its own subscription service in Nashville, Philadelphia, and other major markets in 2019. Several automotive manufacturers have launched national car subscription services, including Volvo. Automotive consumers who subscribe to the Care by Volvo service pay a monthly fee to use various Volvo models, including the XC40, V60, and S60 sedan. There are also a handful of startup companies and automotive dealerships that offer their own car subscription services. PrimeFlip gives subscribers in New England access to a wide range of sedans and SUVs, whereas Revolve only offers subscriptions to luxury vehicles. Consumers who subscribe to one of these services aren’t limited to vehicles from a specific manufacturer, so they can enjoy the benefit of driving various makes and models.  The cost of a car subscription can vary greatly depending on the service, type of vehicle, and location. For example, subscribers to Care by Volvo pay anywhere from $600 to $875 depending on what type of vehicle they want to use. But it can cost nearly $1000 per month to participate in Audi’s luxury car subscription service. Signing up for a used car subscription service is much more affordable. Members of these services can use a reliable used vehicle for as little as $150 to $200 per month. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THE SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE BUSINESS MODEL? There are many benefits to using a subscription-based business model to generate revenue. First, this type of business model gives automotive companies the opportunity to establish a regular and recurring revenue stream. Monthly or annual subscription fees are guaranteed revenue for these companies. The more subscribers the company has, the more revenue the company can generate through monthly or annual subscription fees. Having a regular, recurring income stream can make it easier for automotive companies to evaluate their financial health and manage their inventory. It can also make it easier for companies to rapidly expand since they know they can depend on this regular income to finance their growth.  Companies can build stronger relationships with their customers using a subscription service business model, too. The relationship between the subscriber and company could last for months or even years, depending on how long the subscription lasts. This gives companies the chance to turn each subscriber into a loyal lifetime customer. A subscription-based model could also lower the barrier to entry for a company’s products or services. For example, consumers may not be able to afford to pay $20,000 for a vehicle in a single transaction, so this price might be a barrier to entry. But paying a few hundred dollars per month for access to a vehicle is more affordable, so even if they end up paying more over time, this subscription price lowers the barrier to entry.  Subscription Services in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Using-a-subscription-model.jpg] Using a subscription model can also increase a company’s return on its customer acquisition costs. The longer a customer remains a subscriber, the higher this return will be for the company. Companies can generate even more revenue from their subscribers by offering upgrades or add-on features. Since subscribers already have a strong relationship with the company, they are usually more receptive to upselling. It’s also easier to reach these customers since they already provided their contact information when signing up for a subscription.  These are some of the many reasons why so many businesses have adopted the subscription-based business model. WHAT ARE THE DRAWBACKS OF THE SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE BUSINESS MODEL? There are some downsides to the subscription business model, too. Some companies that want to use the subscription-based business model must make a substantial initial investment in order to provide customers with products or services that are worth the subscription fee. Smaller companies may not have the resources to make this investment. However, this typically does not apply to the automotive industry. Companies must also commit to investing in adding more value to their subscription services on a regular basis. If they fail to continue to add value, consumers may lose interest in the service and end their subscription. This is especially important for companies that offer month-to-month subscriptions that allow consumers to opt-out of their subscriptions at any time.  The subscription-based service model is also becoming increasingly popular, which means companies must be prepared to deal with a lot of competition. This could make it more difficult to acquire new customers and secure a large market share. Another drawback of subscription services is that small issues can easily turn into major problems. Every subscriber receives the same product or service, which means if there is an issue with the product or service, it doesn’t just affect one customer, it affects the company’s entire customer base. A minor glitch in the system, for example, could disrupt service for thousands of subscribers.  These are some of the many challenges that companies must prepare for before using a subscription-based business model. Subscription Services in the Automotive Industry [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Are-Automotive-Subscription-Services-Profitable.jpg] ARE AUTOMOTIVE SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES PROFITABLE? There’s no doubt that the subscription service business model is becoming increasingly popular, especially in the automotive industry. But is this business model profitable for automotive companies? Most companies need to make a substantial initial investment in order to launch a subscription service. However, automotive manufacturers already have everything they need to launch these services.  For instance, manufacturers already have countless vehicles at their disposal that they can offer to consumers via a subscription car service. They also already have the technology to offer consumers the option to subscribe to digital services such as remote engine start and remote lock and unlock. Because of this, automotive manufacturers may not need to generate a lot of revenue in order to turn a profit on these subscription services. But how much revenue can subscription services generate for automotive companies? It depends. Mercedes-Benz, for instance, sells about 2.5 million passenger vehicles per year. It’s unlikely that every consumer who purchases a vehicle would subscribe to the Mercedes-Benz Me services. But say half of these new car owners subscribe to the Mercedes Me Secure service, which costs $199 per year. This would generate nearly $250 million in revenue per year for Mercedes-Benz, which is a small fraction of the company’s annual revenue of over $110 billion.  Based on this example, it’s clear that Mercedes-Benz cannot rely solely on subscription services for revenue. But the company can use these services to generate a substantial amount of additional revenue every year. This is just one example, but it illustrates how automotive companies can benefit greatly from launching subscription services. There’s no question that automotive companies can profit off of using the subscription-based business model to offer consumers exclusive services or short-term access to vehicles.

Take a Spin around an Automotive Virtual Showroom App

Take a Spin around an Automotive Virtual Showroom App

April 12, 2021

Shopping and browsing for a new car at home is easier than ever. The internet and technology has changed shopping for the better, and even hunting for the perfect car can be done without getting off the couch. While some shoppers might prefer browsing in the dealership, dealerships might still limit capacity because of Covid. Beginning the shopping process online via virtual showroom apps could help buyers figure out what they want in their new wheels. Virtual showroom apps transport shoppers into a tech-centric space that digitally replicates the in-person showroom; these apps could be available from manufacturers or via companies like RelayCars. Ready to go on a virtual hunt for a new car? Let’s take a spin around an automotive virtual showroom app to understand the features and how it compares to a real-world experience. WHAT IS A VIRTUAL SHOWROOM? For those unfamiliar with virtual reality and augmented reality, the term ‘virtual showroom’ might be a bit confusing. Do you need goggles? Or a headset? There are many iterations of the virtual and augmented reality showroom. These experiences are not unique to the automotive industry. In fact, many retail industries use them, too, as a way to enhance the user experience during online shopping and to better aid shoppers in finding the right products. While augmented reality uses graphic overlays on top of a real-world environment, virtual reality showrooms and experiences exist in a separate and digitized realm. The user experiences a product or service in a virtual environment. Some virtual reality showrooms may require the use of glasses, goggles, or a headset. IKEA offers a virtual reality showroom experience in their store for shoppers to virtually create their own kitchen. And, yes, a headset is required. One of the crazier features of the experience is that users can shrink down to the size of a child during the experience; this lets them see the kitchen the way their child might. Plus, as IKEA points out, shrinking down could let parents find potential issues that might be a safety concern. Other virtual reality showrooms can be accessed via an online portal or an app; no headsets may be required. RelayCars offers a virtual reality app that allows car shoppers to preview different cars in a virtual realm. For the RelayCars app, users don’t need to own or use a headset or special glasses/goggles. Users can simply download the app via Google Play (for Android) or the App Store (for Apple. So what’s so special about an automotive virtual reality showroom? Let’s take RelayCars for a spin…and discover the features and virtual vehicles that users can explore. WHAT IS A VIRTUAL CAR? Virtual Car® is a trademark owned by Enterprise Rent-A-Car. The term was actually trademarked decades ago (1997). In the context of Enterprise, the idea of a ‘virtual’ vehicle meant something very different than what we might think of today. Now the idea of a ‘virtual’ vehicle brings to mind pixelated images or a holographic design. These images of simulated automobiles are used in virtual showroom apps to allow users to see and interact with a vehicle from any location. Virtual images cannot be touched in a tactile sense. However, in the realm of the virtual space, users can peek inside vehicles and change paint hues, too. The vehicles presented in a virtual showroom are scaled models of the actual vehicle. Obviously, the screen cannot capture a life-size image of the car. It can show users a smaller version with all the same features. HOW DO I CREATE A VIRTUAL SHOWROOM? To create the RelayCars virtual showroom on a phone, users will need to download the app. The showroom also can be accessed online on the RelayCars website. No special software is required once the app is on a device. That is, users don’t have to do anything but open up the app and begin exploring. The simplicity of the app makes it ideal for dealerships that may not have their own online virtual showroom. Dealerships can recommend the app to customers who want to explore cars online before coming into the physical location. Virtual Showroom App [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Virtual-Showroom-App-1.jpg] CAN YOU ACTUALLY CLICK ‘BUY’ IN A VIRTUAL SHOWROOM APP? For the past year, retail and the shopping process have been dramatically different thanks to Covid. Many shoppers are now accustomed to web-centric shopping, and some consumers might have grown to prefer online shopping. While some dealerships might have offered an almost fully remote car shopping experience, not all consumers might have been comfortable completing the entire process online. When navigating virtual showroom apps, though, those who are comfortable remotely purchasing a car may be curious if these virtual showroom apps are the portal to the entire shopping experience. Virtual Showroom App [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Virtual-Showroom-App-2.jpg] ARE THESE APPS DISRUPTING THE INDUSTRY? Augmented reality and virtual reality may be disrupting the automotive industry. Technology can shake up sectors, and this shake-up might simply lead to adaptation and change within an industry. With technology like augmented and virtual reality, manufacturers and dealerships can use the virtual realm to market cars to a wide range of buyers. Some of these virtual experiences can be incredibly unique and appealing to consumers, and the entertainment or novelty of the experience might even introduce consumers to new cars that they might not have discovered before. RelayCars lets users browse from an expansive list of vehicles, opening up consumers to explore makes and models from any device. Even if the consumer doesn’t have the budget or interest in purchasing a luxury vehicle like an Alfa Romeo, they can still explore all the models from the manufacturer via the virtual showroom. In this way, vehicles can be accessible to a wide audience; there is no pressure from a sales force. Consumers are free to explore any car they wish…from the comfort of home. With RelayCars virtual showroom, consumers can change the vantage point of the automobile to see it from every angle. Want to see the model in a different hue? Change out the paint job. Peek at the interior and see what it looks like in the back seat. Users are free to explore! This virtual exploration could lead to setting goals for a dream car. Or it could simply lead to the consumer finding the car they want and need for their current lifestyle. Virtual showrooms, though, are pressure-free. And, yes, they can make the car-shopping process a true adventure. WILL IN-PERSON SHOPPING BECOME OBSOLETE? Will virtual and augmented reality completely upend the car shopping process as an in-person experience? While anything is possible, and no one knows what the future holds, there may continue to be a desire for in-person car buying. Typically, shoppers would visit several dealerships and check out a few car models that interest them. At the dealership, shoppers could sit in and explore many models on the lot before finding their dream car. The dealership provides consumers with the option to play with different features and better understand how the car may fit or not fit their lifestyle. Some tall buyers might discover that a certain model doesn’t work for their height. Maybe the car is just too compact; sitting in the vehicle could have been the game-changer. The car shopping experience is a process, and many consumers visit multiple dealerships. According to the 2019 Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey study, those who purchased a new car visited 2.3 dealerships. In 2017, though, it was reported that individuals went to nearly three dealerships (2.7). Even before the pandemic, online shopping was a part of the process; the study reported that more than half of the car buying process (61 percent) was spent online. Nissan is on top of the virtual trend and now offers a remote shopping and buying option. Nissan@Home was announced in December 2020; according to CNET, it allows consumers to find a car online, schedule a test drive, sign all the paperwork virtually and have the car delivered. This type of offering could be the future. When visiting the Nissan@Home site, consumers can click a button that allows them to begin building their new car. There’s also the option via the site to check out the inventory and see payment estimates. Will more companies offer similar experiences? Perhaps. As Covid disrupted the industry, consumers could simply be more comfortable shifting to a remote experience. Younger buyers may already prefer this option, although many consumers may still like the in-person experience. Even before Covid, more than half of the shopping process was online. Virtual showrooms add to the buying research tools available to consumers. With apps like RelayCars, consumers can explore as many vehicles as they want. This could help them zero in on the best models for their budget and lifestyle. While Covid and technology have disrupted the automotive industry, this disruption could be in favor of the consumer. More online tools can aid the buyer during the hunt, but a virtual shopping experience also can help buyers take their time with the shopping process. There is no worry about wasting a salesperson’s time or feeling pressured to make a decision. Online tools let consumers browse at their leisure, and this could mean that those dealership visits become more mindful–a win for both the consumer and the sales team.

Why Virtual Reality Will be a Trillion-Dollar Marketplace Within Five Years

Why Virtual Reality Will be a Trillion-Dollar Marketplace Within Five Years

April 9, 2021

Virtual reality is creeping into virtually every corner of the global commercial sphere, from gaming to automotive to real estate. The growth of this form of immersive media is no surprise to most in the dynamic digital commercial space, with more than 5.5 million units in circulation as of last year.  In the next five years, virtual reality technology is expected to reach a market size of at least $1 trillion. An increased level of affordability, plus accessible options across multiple price points and target audiences, is putting VR into the hands of more consumers than ever.  With front-runners like Oculus, PlayStation, and HTC paving the way, thousands of brands and retailers are prioritizing virtual reality to bring more realistic visual, auditory, and tactile media to their customers.  Virtual reality is effectively changing the digital world as we know it. These are just some of the reasons why virtual reality will be a trillion-dollar marketplace within five years. IS THE VR INDUSTRY GROWING? This form of simulated experience, while entirely different from the real world, is becoming a mainstay in the mainstream consumer marketplace. With more than six million headset units sold this year alone, VR is soon to be the most widely used digital sensory device in the world.  Virtual reality technology has evolved to include more than just digital images and surround sound. Now, it’s possible to include touch, smell, and even taste depending on the model you’re using.  Within the gaming sector, we’re seeing the fastest and highest level of growth. Since 2017, this segment has seen monetary growth of more than $1 billion, and an additional $1 billion is predicted to funnel into the industry before 2024.  Gaming is just one corner of the market, and VR technology has expanded within industries like: * Healthcare * Supply chain management * Retail * Physical sciences * Research and academia In 2016, the majority of mobile headsets sold were based on mobile connectivity. Today, most purchased units are self-contained with their own built-in data storage and computing capabilities. Between the changes in VR growth and AI innovation, machine learning and dynamic media could change the world as we know it.  WHAT ARE THE TOP BRANDS IN VIRTUAL REALITY TECHNOLOGY? Virtual reality is no longer a monopolized industry with just a few key players. In fact, the technology is more affordable and accessible than ever – largely as a result of increased competition across the mainstream marketplace. In 2021, these brands became household names and are continuing to sit in the spotlight: * Oculus * HTS * Samsung * Microsoft * Unity * VironIT * Alphabet/Google * Next/Now * Quytech * Magic Leap * Nvidia * NextVR * Matterport * AMD However, there are a variety of established and emerging brands that are finding their way across the world and into the hands (and living rooms) of consumers across virtually every sector of the market. Virtual Reality Will be a Trillion-Dollar Marketplace [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/What-devices-integrate-virtual-reality.jpg] WHAT DEVICES INTEGRATE VIRTUAL REALITY? Between smart wearables, increased mobile adaptivity, and affordable auxiliary devices – there are more ways than ever to enjoy virtual reality from anywhere, at any time. VR headsets and goggles continue to be the most commonly used devices for gaming, virtual travel, and even remote employment. These devices allow the wearer to navigate through a fully digital, 360-degree rendered environment with just enough physical space to take a few steps and turn around. While the standard headset has risen in popularity on the mainstream market, there are a variety of VR devices to provide a diverse immersive experience.  Other common ways to access virtual reality environments include: * Glasses * Gloves * Bodysuits * Sensor-enabled workspaces Hand-held remotes are also a popular addition to VR headsets that allow the wearer to use manipulative elements, such as tools or aiming equipment that can be controlled using motion sensors, haptic triggers, and built-in accelerometers. These additions to the digital work (and play) spaces make it easier than ever for users to dive into the virtual sphere – without the learning curve.  What was previously a niche within the gaming sector has expanded to instructional training, mechanics, engineering, defense, technical construction, automotive, and more. Wearable accessories and mobile connectivity have made it easier than ever for individual users to collaborate virtually, but with the same level of comfort and convenience as in-person collaboration.  These technological developments are partially responsible for the massive influx of interest in the VR industry as a whole. In fact, virtual reality is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18% over the next seven years.  As a whole, the virtual reality industry has grown to include the full suite of connected devices and more types of equipment will likely surface in the coming years as innovation grows and thrives across multidisciplinary industries. HOW IS VR HARDWARE CHANGING? VR headsets have been around for a few years, but innovators are creating lightweight equipment that is cheaper and easier to use – without all of the bulk.  Even the most powerful VR devices are using sophisticated technology to reduce the amount of space (and weight) needed to build a functional product. Contemporary devices are smaller, sleeker, and overall better than previous models.  Additionally, leaders in VR research and development are working to perfect the technology that produces these integrated experiences. A lot of hesitation surrounding the VR industry in previous years has been based on ongoing issues with seamless integration and ongoing updates to the technology. Now, VR hardware is powerful enough to support hardcore gaming and work functions but without the bulky, buggy issues of previous models.  Virtual reality isn’t foolproof, but innovators are working toward a type of device that is as light as a pair of glasses – but provides all of the functions you can expect from your smartphone or desktop PC. Now that immersive technology has improved in such a way to facilitate this level of growth, updated optics are also being integrated into VR use. This is made possible by updated, thin glass structures that utilize polarization-based optic folding or holographic optics to reflect light and digital images together. No matter how you’re planning to use this growing technology, virtual and augmented reality are becoming lifestyle products that could be adopted by the majority of mainstream consumers in the near future. Virtual Reality Will be a Trillion-Dollar Marketplace [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/What-is-the-target-market-for-virtual-reality.jpg] WHAT IS THE TARGET MARKET FOR VIRTUAL REALITY? Since 2015, gaming and entertainment have dominated the demand for virtual reality technology. However, that focus has expanded from 2020 onward to include other markets like: * Travel * Fitness * DIY * Automotive Millennials and boomers are a major player in the VR sphere as a whole, but the primary demographic tends to be males in the 25-39 age range. When it comes to secondary industries, such as retail or consumer goods, using VR as a branding strategy provides high returns. More than half of consumers would prefer to shop with brands that offer virtual reality experiences, while 68% of those who have not used the technology express an interest in giving it a shot. Around the world, this technology has taken off across nearly every continent. But, North America and Asia are the current front runners. As accessibility and affordability increases, this level of access will likely expand to the rest of the globe over the next year or two. Virtual Reality Will be a Trillion-Dollar Marketplace [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/How-much-is-VR-worth-in-2021.jpg] HOW MUCH IS VR WORTH IN 2021? The global VR market has a current valuation of $21.83 billion. This is a significant jump from its $17.25 valuation in 2020.  The growth of the VR industry as a whole has been due, in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing regulations that followed. With so many industries suffering from the absence of in-person contact, virtual reality has helped to bridge the gap.  While the VR industry has incurred its own impact during the economic downturn, market size is expected to maintain the same amount of growth, or higher, as the past five years.  From 2015-2021, virtual reality as a commodity maintained an annual growth rate of 15. Demand is continuing to grow, which will have a direct impact on the industry’s gross profit and business distribution metrics in the coming years. Virtual Reality Will be a Trillion-Dollar Marketplace [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Why-is-VR-gaining-popularity.jpg] WHY IS VR GAINING POPULARITY? In addition to being a fun way to complete everyday tasks, virtual reality technology has opened doors for a wide range of practical uses. Due to its ability to turn tangible experiences into positive emotional responses, VR is being used in marketing, engineering, manufacturing, and even driving to mimic real-world environments.  As businesses moved their operations online to cope with the pandemic, the corporate world started to see VR as a useful tool to boost collaboration and communication across remote offices. Using virtual reality instead of standard desktop workspaces gives users more “space” to manipulate digital objects, text, and even tactile elements. This has the potential to expand a worker’s home office space without adding any extra equipment, or square footage.  Brands are also using virtual reality to enhance marketing efforts while increasing engagement at the same time.  Social media has already started to incorporate VR and AR capabilities, such as 360-degree responsive photos and videos as well as superimposed filters. By giving viewers tangible access to the content, each ad is transformed into more of an experience than a sales pitch.  Since no marketplace or individual consumer is the same, VR gives each user the ability to tailor their experience to what’s going on in their own digital environment. Virtual Reality Will be a Trillion-Dollar Marketplace [https://blog.relaycars.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/What-can-be-done-using-virtual-reality.jpg] WHAT CAN BE DONE USING VIRTUAL REALITY? As previously mentioned, VR is growing rapidly across the gaming, healthcare, science, and even online shopping spheres. But, there are a variety of other practical uses that make virtual reality the perfect medium for digital exploration.  Virtual reality environments are the best online solution for simulated in-person interaction. Through gaming, communication, or work-based programs, users can talk to each other and manipulate digital objects simultaneously. Compared to video chat and text-based services, this is the closest online option to true face-to-face interaction. With travel being so heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual reality gave people a safe and accessible way to go to their favorite places around the world. From virtual zip lining to excursions through Antarctic caves, there are endless possibilities when you can visit any physical location from the comfort of home.  Additionally, VR allows people to head back into time to explore history in a way that books just can’t compete with. Using connected apps and programs, it’s possible to travel to ancient sites to learn about past societies in a new way.  For thrill-seekers who don’t want the risk that comes with adventurous activities like diving, sky sports, and more – there’s a virtual reality solution for just about everything you can think of. If you’ve always wanted to explore a shipwreck or alpen mountain top, you can traverse any type of terrain or environment with just a headset and mobile phone. With the average cost of a smartphone VR adapter starting at just a few dollars, there is virtually no investment to start with virtual reality. If you want to dive into the full experience with a headset, you can easily find a full system for just $100.  For a more immersive and mind-blowing environment, you can build a completely interactive three-dimensional space for approximately $15,000. It’s also possible to incorporate augmented reality elements to truly blend your digital and real-world views. From facilitating an easier home office transition to connecting gamers from all over the world like never before, virtual reality is going to continue to grow rapidly. Based on the data that has been collected thus far, virtual reality will be a trillion-dollar marketplace within the next five years.

Categories: Virtual Reality
5 Things to Expect in the Electric Vehicle Market By 2030

5 Things to Expect in the Electric Vehicle Market By 2030

April 7, 2021

The electric vehicle market reached a major milestone in 2019 when combined annual sales passed the 2 million mark for the first time. Experts predicted that electric vehicles would continue to build off of this success in 2020. But the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the entire automotive industry, including the electric vehicle sector. Despite last year’s challenges, the electric vehicle market still has a bright future ahead. How quickly will the electric market grow? What will drive the growth in this market? What should automotive consumers expect when shopping for an electric vehicle in the future? Here is what experts believe will happen in the electric vehicle market by 2030: ELECTRIC VEHICLE GROWTH BY MARKET Experts predict that the electric vehicle market will experience a compound annual growth rate of 29% over the next decade. This means annual electric vehicle sales will increase from 2.5 million units in 2020 to over 31 million units by 2030, which would account for 32% of all new automotive sales. The electric vehicle market is expected to grow faster in certain markets. According to industry experts, electric vehicles could secure nearly half of the domestic market share in China by 2030. However, electric vehicles are only expected to secure about 27% of the automotive domestic market share in the U.S.  The electric vehicle market will grow faster in Northern and Western European countries compared to Southern and Eastern European countries. This is because the former countries have more resources to invest in infrastructure and offer to consumers and businesses as financial rewards for purchasing new electric vehicles. By 2030, experts believe that China will hold just under half of the global electric vehicle market share, followed by Europe, which will secure 27% of the global market share, and the U.S., which will hold 14%. 5 Things to Expect in the Electric Vehicle Market By 2030 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Change-in-Consumer-Attitude.jpg] CHANGE IN CONSUMER ATTITUDE Experts believe that one of the main driving factors fueling the growth of the electric vehicle market in the years ahead will be a change in consumer attitudes. The Deloitte Global Auto Consumer Study measured consumers’ attitudes toward electric vehicles in 2018 and 2020. This study revealed that consumers have a number of concerns about purchasing an electric vehicle, including the cost, limited driving range, the time required to fully charge, and lack of public chargers. However, the study also revealed that most of these concerns are slowly starting to fade away. For example, 26% of U.S. consumers cited cost as their number one concern related to electric vehicles in 2018. But in 2020, this number dropped to only 18%. Concerns related to the cost of electric vehicles diminished in other countries, including France, where it dropped from 32% in 2018 to 22% in 2020. Consumer concerns related to a limited driving range also diminished in a number of countries, including France, Germany, UK, and China, where it dropped from 25% in 2018 to 22% in 2020. This doesn’t mean that consumers are completely on board with the idea of purchasing an electric vehicle. Other concerns, such as lack of public charging equipment, grew over this two-year period in France, Germany, UK, China, and the U.S. However, the data shows that it is possible to change consumers’ minds in as little as two years.  Automotive manufacturers may want to consider investing in marketing campaigns aimed to educate consumers on electric vehicles. These campaigns could address these concerns and help consumers see electric vehicles in a completely different light.   Experts predict that seeing more electric vehicles on the roads could help consumers get past their initial concerns. Over the next decade, many consumers will travel in electric vehicles owned by their family members or friends, ride in electric buses used for public transportation, and see electric vans or trucks used for commercial purposes. Seeing and experiencing electric vehicles on a regular basis could help consumers view them more favorably. As these concerns continue to fade in the years ahead, more consumers may start to see the benefits of owning an electric vehicle. This shift in consumer sentiment could lead to significant growth in the electric vehicle market. 5 Things to Expect in the Electric Vehicle Market By 2030 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Government-Intervention.jpg] GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION Another factor that could impact the electric vehicle market is government intervention. Several different policies and regulations established by government agencies could impact the future of the electric vehicle market, including: * Fuel Economy and Emission Goals * State-Level Bans * New Financial Incentives * COVID-19 Recovery Plans FUEL ECONOMY AND EMISSION GOALS Many countries have recently set fuel economy and emission goals in an effort to reduce greenhouse gases and minimize the impact of climate change.  For example, the European Union (EU) set a goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. To reach this goal, the EU established average emission targets for all new cars, trucks, and vans manufactured in 2020 or later.  Manufacturers that produce vehicles that exceed this emissions target could face steep fines. In fact, a recent analysis revealed that automotive manufacturers could face over $3.7 billion in fines in 2021 due to this new regulation. Experts predict that automotive manufacturers will begin to invest heavily in increasing the fuel efficiency of vehicles in order to avoid these annual fines. A significant portion of this investment could go toward the production of electric vehicles. Thus, this government regulation could have a direct impact on the electric vehicle market. STATE-LEVEL BANS Several states in the U.S. have introduced legislation that would ban the sale of vehicles with combustion engines.  For example, Washington’s Clean Cars 2030 Act would prohibit the sale of any passenger vehicle with a combustion engine manufactured in 2030 or later. If it passes, this legislation could leave Washington residents with no other choice but to buy electric vehicles beginning in 2030. Washington isn’t the only state that is taking action to promote electric vehicles. Last year, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation that will phase out the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles in the state by 2035. This type of legislation could boost the electric vehicle market over the next several decades. NEW FINANCIAL INCENTIVES  Some governments now offer automotive consumers financial incentives for choosing electric vehicles over gas-powered vehicles.  In France, for example, consumers who purchase electric vehicles receive a financial incentive of up to $8,000. Automotive consumers in the U.S., on the other hand, could qualify for a tax credit of up to $7,500 for purchasing a new electric vehicle.  The German government also incentivizes the purchase of electric vehicles by offering consumers a lower value-added tax (VAT) on all low-emission vehicles. Many consumers may be motivated to purchase electric vehicles instead of gas-powered vehicles just so they can take advantage of these financial incentives. COVID-19 RECOVERY PLANS Many governments are passing recovery plans that are designed to help consumers and the economy as a whole bounce back from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The details of these plans could impact the future of the electric vehicle market. For example, Germany recently passed a $146 billion COVID-19 recovery plan. About $2.8 billion of this budget is being invested in electric vehicle infrastructure.  China is another country that is incorporating an investment into electric vehicles into its COVID-19 recovery plan. In China, about $378 million of the COVID-19 recovery plan budget is going toward electric vehicle infrastructure.  Funding the development of electric vehicle infrastructure could lead to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles in the near future. 5 Things to Expect in the Electric Vehicle Market By 2030 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/New-Electric-Vehicle-Models.jpg] NEW ELECTRIC VEHICLE MODELS There are currently only a handful of players in the electric vehicle market. Tesla, which has a market share of approximately 16%, is considered the market leader. But a number of new competitors could emerge over the next decade that could shake up the electric vehicle market. In 2019, automotive manufacturers launched a total of 143 new electric vehicles. But industry analysts predict that over 450 new electric vehicle models will launch by the end of 2022.  Many automotive manufacturers have already announced that they plan to commit significant resources to the production of electric vehicles over the next few years. Some of the strategic electric vehicle goals set by automotive manufacturers include: * Mazda will release its first electric vehicle by the end of 2021. The company plans on making only electric or hybrid vehicles by the early 2030s. * Toyota has set an electric vehicle sales goal of 30,000 units for 2021. * Fiat Chrysler plans on releasing at least 30 new electric vehicles by the end of 2022. * BMW will release at least 25 new electric vehicles by 2023. * Ford will invest $11.5 billion in electric vehicles and add 40 electric vehicles to its global portfolio by the end of 2022. * General Motors has set an electric vehicle sales goal of 1 million units by 2025. * Volvo would like electric vehicles to account for 50% of all global sales by 2025. * Hyundai will invest $87 billion in electric vehicles and introduce 44 new electric vehicle models by 2025. * Honda would like electric vehicles to account for two-thirds of its global sales by the year 2030. Experts believe that automotive manufacturers are truly committed to meeting these ambitious targets. If so, this means that there will be a major shift toward the production of electric vehicles in the automotive industry over the next 10 years.  It could also mean that automotive consumers will have far more electric vehicle options to choose from. This could lead to an increase in sales since there may be an electric vehicle to meet the needs of every type of automotive consumer.  Since the marketplace will become increasingly competitive, automotive manufacturers may need to launch aggressive marketing campaigns to win over electric consumers. Some of these marketing campaigns may focus on converting existing gas-powered vehicle customers to electric vehicle customers. But others may focus on converting new customers to electric vehicle customers instead.  It’s important to note that the goals listed above were set by established players in the automotive industry. But a number of new companies that solely produce electric vehicles may enter the automotive industry over the next decade. Not all of these companies will succeed, but the ones that do could potentially disrupt the electric vehicle market. CORPORATE SUPPORT Corporations have always played a big role in the automotive industry. For instance, businesses currently account for about 63% of all new automotive sales in Western European countries. But experts predict that corporations will start to use their purchasing power to drive growth in the electric vehicle market in the years ahead. Many companies are trying to differentiate themselves from their competitors by taking a stance on social causes, including climate change. Experts believe that many corporations will begin supporting the shift to electric vehicles in an effort to show the public that they are serious about mitigating the effects of climate change. But this isn’t the only reason why companies may start to show more support for electric vehicles over the next decade. It costs about $0.10 per mile to fuel a gas-powered vehicle, but it only costs about $0.03 per mile to fuel an electric vehicle. Switching to electric vehicles can help companies that utilize commercial fleets save thousands of dollars on fuel expenses every year.  Companies that run commercial fleets can also save money on maintenance costs by switching to electric vehicles. Electric vehicles are designed with fewer parts than gas-powered vehicles. Plus, they don’t require fluid replacement services. For these reasons, electric vehicles are easier and less expensive to maintain than gas-powered vehicles. 5 Things to Expect in the Electric Vehicle Market By 2030 [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/financial-incentives.jpg] Companies could also receive financial incentives for supporting the switch to electric vehicles. For example, the city of Pasadena offers companies up to $50,000 for installing electric vehicle chargers in public areas.  Some businesses could also qualify for financial incentives provided by the government simply by switching to electric vehicles. Businesses in the UK, for instance, may be able to save up to £3,000 on the purchase of a small electric van and up to  £6,000 on the purchase of a large electric van. If the corporate world switches to electric vehicles in the next decade, not only will this directly lead to an increase in global electric vehicle sales, but it may also inspire consumers to follow their lead. It’s too early to measure the accuracy of these predictions. But if experts are right, manufacturers, dealers, and other parties in the automotive industry must start to prepare for the rise in popularity of electric vehicles.

The Augmented Reality Showroom: Where Imagination Meets Reality

The Augmented Reality Showroom: Where Imagination Meets Reality

April 5, 2021

According to Statista, the augmented reality and virtual reality market is expected to exceed $30 billion in 2021. The technology is used in the gaming world (like Pokemon Go!), in the beauty industry (preview cosmetics), in home design (preview paint colors in a room) and throughout the automotive sector. All these sectors and industries share a common use of augmented reality: the augmented reality showroom. This unique showroom is where imagination meets reality. Consumers can use their real world environment and preview products. Cars appear in living rooms, lipstick color sweeps onto lips, and living room walls are painted in any color of the rainbow (and beyond). The augmented reality showroom can aid shoppers on their hunt for perfection and, for some business, maybe it even leads to fewer returns. After all, if shoppers can see an item on their faces, their rooms or even in their garage, the decision to click buy may become less intimidating. An augmented reality showroom option also could heighten the user experience while shopping. Augmented reality showrooms can transform the seemingly flat online shopping experience into something that is immersive and interactive. If a website offers an augmented reality showroom, shoppers may play with the technology for a while…instead of clicking through the website and moving on. The site UsabilityGeek stated in a headline that augmented reality was “the shiny new toy syndrome.” Although the site noted that the technology could lead to “obsessive use.”  And, when used in retail, “…people have started making unplanned purchases- all thanks to the tech’s influence.” How is the automotive sector leveraging this type of tech-heightened experience? And how do augmented reality showrooms aid new car buyers? Let’s look at the impact of augmented reality in the dealership realm. Augmented Reality Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/The-Covid-Crux.jpg] THE COVID CRUX The impact of Covid on the automotive sector was devastating. Not only did the pandemic affect production, but it also impacted dealerships. The Drive reported that Ford, General Motors and FCA all ceased production during Covid; production plants shut down for several weeks in Ford plants to ensure proper cleaning and sanitation. Car and Driver reported that Subaru shutdown through early April (2020), Daimler closed for two weeks (starting in late March 2020), and Toyota suspended production through early April 2020. CNBC reported that Ford’s Chicago plant had to close twice when some workers tested positive in May; the closures were brief. In addition, CNBC reported that Ford’s Dearborn Michigan plant also had to be shut down briefly (in May) after positive cases were confirmed. Ford wasn’t the only automaker impacted by the spread of the pandemic.  General Motors had to take on quite a juggling act when workers were out sick or in quarantine because of exposure. Fiat Chrysler and Ford took on temp workers. While car sales are now rebounding, National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) reported that new car sales in 2020 finished with 14.46 million units—a 14.7 percent decrease from 2019. HOW DEALERSHIPS RESPONDED TO CLOSED DOORS When shoppers couldn’t get into the physical location, how did businesses survive? Many had to pivot to online sales, and this transition may have been harder for car dealerships. Traditionally, the new car buying experience involved consumers visiting dealerships in person to check out different cars on the lot. New car shopping was very much a tactile experience. Shoppers opened doors, sat in the vehicles, played around with the features and took their favorite models out on the road for a test drive. Duplicating this experience required a bit of creativity. Before Covid, dealerships often offered photos of car models or used cars from their inventory online. Some dealerships might have provided photo slideshows that depicted these cars from all angles and gave shoppers a glimpse at the interior. The online experiences likely varied per dealership. During Covid, online experiences likely were a means of survival. Shoppers now had to limit their visits to dealerships…if they could even visit the dealership at all. While augmented and virtual reality showrooms were offered pre-Covid, during the pandemic these tech-savvy features might have increased in popularity. Shoppers needed a way to duplicate the in-person experience. Two-dimensional photos likely weren’t enough to provide the visual insight of the car. Dealerships responded with interactive showrooms that heightened the user experience. Augmented Reality Showroom [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Cars-in-the-Living-Room.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY SHOWROOMS: CARS IN THE LIVING ROOM Dealerships may have offered virtual or augmented reality showrooms to provide online buyers with more detail about the cars offered in the dealership. While virtual reality showrooms transport shoppers into a virtual realm to preview vehicles, augmented reality showrooms overlay graphics onto a real-world environment. Virtual reality showrooms could be accessible through online portals or with the aid of virtual reality headsets. All vehicles and details in a virtual reality showroom are graphic depictions. That is, nothing in virtual reality uses any real world data. While the vehicles are virtual designs, they are completely accurate in their detailed simulations of their real-life counterparts. Augmented reality showrooms exist in various iterations. Many augmented reality showrooms—including RelayCars AR showroom—allow shoppers to integrate a graphic depiction of a specific vehicle into a real world environment. Using an app (in the case of RelayCars), users can use their camera to focus in on any area of the home or outdoor space. Then the car of their choice is dropped into this environment. The car can appear on a bed, in the living room or maybe in a garage. Augmented reality showrooms may allow shoppers to switch out elements of the car to preview different looks. Perhaps paint hues can be changed. Or maybe different features of the car can be examined. Often, shoppers can peek inside the vehicle for a glimpse of the interior and its features. Manufacturers and companies offering augmented reality showrooms may tailor their experiences differently. For example, Ferrari’s augmented reality app works in the physical showroom. The shopper can swap out colors and look at the inner-mechanics of the vehicle. The augmented reality showroom offered by RelayCars lets shoppers experience all different types of makes and models. The user can experience various vehicles in their own environment. These experiences can be a way to preview different cars but it also can help the consumer get acclimated to the idea of a simulated experience. Augmented reality showrooms require no special glasses or goggles, although users do typically need to utilize their smartphone or tablet camera. When physical dealership showrooms may have been closed to shoppers, the virtual and augmented reality showrooms offered online and via apps helped shoppers research cars and get an up-close look at their favorite models. When they found the cars that topped their wish list, they could contact the dealership and inquire about test drives. Some dealerships may have allowed the entire car buying transaction to happen virtually or online. HOW DOES AUGMENTED REALITY HELP SHOPPERS AFTER COVID? While the Covid vaccine is rolling out to the most vulnerable populations, soon the entire country will have a chance to receive the vaccine. The world may return to the old normal, but Covid also may have left an imprint on the shopping experience. Augmented reality showrooms existed before Covid. And after Covid, these offerings could remain popular for those who prefer to begin their shopping process online. Augmented and virtual reality allows the consumer to preview products at home, without commuting to a store, fighting traffic or dealing with crowds. Convenience could be a big perk of this tech. For car shoppers, augmented reality showrooms may help narrow down the wish list to a few favorites. Maybe seeing that SUV in the garage pushes the model higher up on the list. Even color preferences could change thanks to this tech. In the dealership, sometimes not all the available colors may be on the lot for buyers to see. Augmented reality showrooms, though, often let buyers switch out paint hues. That dark plum paint job could be the must-have hue, even if it wasn’t even on a buyer’s radar! Shopping for a new car could become a mix of real-life and virtual/augmented reality experiences. Virtual and augmented reality could be used for pre-buying research, with only the top models being investigated by consumers in the physical dealership. Augmented reality showrooms combined with other tools offered online by dealerships could greatly aid buyers in finding deals and their favorite cars. Augmented reality showrooms when combined with online customer service experiences could further ease the hunt for a new car. Dealerships often offer virtual customer service assistance via their website, and these virtual assistants can answer questions that buyers may have as they search for a new car. Even after Covid has dissipated, the virtual and augmented platforms that many buyers relied on to simulate the real-world experiences may continue to impact, aid and simply the task of shopping for a new car.

Categories: Augmented Reality
Why the Automotive Industry Needs a Digital-First Customer Experience Strategy

Why the Automotive Industry Needs a Digital-First Customer Experience Strategy

April 2, 2021

For the last few years, global consumers have been moving towards a shopping model almost entirely facilitated by e-commerce growth. From food to childcare, it’s possible to purchase goods and services – across virtually every sector – with the tap of a screen. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the automotive industry also saw a huge influx in commercial and consumer interest surrounding digital experiences and online tools. Since customers are getting used to handling the car-buying process from their desktop or mobile devices, automotive brands are being rushed into the e-commerce sphere like never before.  To reach the growing base of consumers who spend the majority of their time online, auto brands have to adopt an online user experience strategy that can span across multiple demographics and niches.  What was previously only a trend among younger consumers is being taken over by the masses, and teenagers and seniors alike are looking for ways to shop online. Read on to learn more about the core reasons why the automotive industry must embrace a digital-first customer experience strategy. Why the Automotive Industry Needs a Digital-First Customer Experience Strategy [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/digital-customer-experience.jpg] WHAT IS DIGITAL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE? Making your online customers feel seen, heard, and valued is more important to the growth of your business than you might expect. As we enter the ever-expanding digital landscape, this element is becoming even more essential across e-commerce and brick-and-mortar shopping.  In short, digitization starts and stops at the customer level. This means that all changes, actions, and functions in a digital marketing or business strategy should keep the customer’s goals at the forefront. Understanding the standard consumer profile for any respective brand’s target audience is always the first step, but there is more to the digital customer experience than a couple of email campaigns and some A/B testing. In the automotive industry, digital customer experience is used throughout the entire shopping process to target, reach, and communicate with the ideal consumer. This information is built from a variety of factors, including: * Online shopping trends * Mobile app use * SEO * Content branding * Email response rate * Social media marketing Essentially, a customer’s digital experience is a virtual representation of your brand from the eyes of a consumer, site visitor, or potential client. Tapering down the salesly language and focusing on objective, educational content is one way to move your digitization strategy to the level of the consumer. In general, customers are tired of being “sold to” and instead are looking for meaningful experiences when they’re shopping online. However, there are three primary forms of digital experience management: Why the Automotive Industry Needs a Digital-First Customer Experience Strategy [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Desktop.jpg] DESKTOP Digital media and e-commerce activity is still heavily influenced by trends in desktop-based customer experience analysis. Since much of the world is continuing to work remotely, we’re spending even more time sitting behind a desktop screen. In between video calls and checking work emails, many users are spending their breaks on social media, or window shopping with their favorite brands. The auto industry is jumping onto this trend by making online car shopping more seamless and simplified than ever before.  Content marketing, SEO branding, campaign planning, and analytics are easily adapted to desktop usage trends and customer behavior analysis. These tools can help brands to guide the right users to the right products while cultivating brand recognition and interest without the glaring conspicuousness of billboards and in-person sales pitches.  Cultivating a favorable digital-first customer experience can help potential customers make the decision to pursue a purchase with a respective brand while making it easier for them to complete their purchase with a few clicks.  Why the Automotive Industry Needs a Digital-First Customer Experience Strategy [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Mobile.jpg] MOBILE In many cases, mobile customer digital experience elements can be the same as those found on a brand’s desktop-based online environment. From marketing strategy to web analytics and paid media, these elements are built to be viewed and interacted with via a user’s mobile device – such as a phone or tablet.  Other elements that can build a digital customer experience include social media marketing, proprietary apps, and email automation. The majority of the world accesses the internet from a mobile device, and this metric is only continuing to grow. Phones are more accessible than ever, and at least 85 percent of mobile users prefer apps over mobile-friendly browser sites.  To tap into this growing corner of the digital market, automotive brands are expanding their mobile offerings to include: * AR-assisted shopping features * Ship-to-home or ship-to-store * Video and image search * Instant mobile financing * Two-factor identification for proprietary accounts While email, social media, and other marketing elements are reachable via desktop environments, mobile-friendly versions are typically more concise and accessible for users on the go. Why the Automotive Industry Needs a Digital-First Customer Experience Strategy [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/In-Store.jpg] IN-STORE Brick-and-mortar dealerships aren’t exempt from this digital expansion, as customers are looking for certain features no matter where they’re shopping from. AR and AI-assisted shopping apps, virtual showrooms, and enhanced in-store advertising are proven to reach more consumers – while keeping current ones in front of your inventory for more time. Using mobile apps, in-store virtual environments, or even a tablet in the showroom can give customers instant access to: * Live inventory updates * Virtual testing programs * Customizable content (color, features, add-ons to meet specifications) * Detailed self-led research Instead of limiting the shopping experience to the information provided by an onsite sales representative, customers can take their shopping trip into their own hands with digital customer experience management.  Why the Automotive Industry Needs a Digital-First Customer Experience Strategy [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/What-trends-are-driving-digitization-in-automotive.jpg] WHAT TRENDS ARE DRIVING DIGITIZATION IN AUTOMOTIVE? Digitization isn’t a one-way street. There are a variety of different factors that are changing the way customers and brands interact with each other in 2020. Some of the top trends that are driving digitization in automotive are: * Increased connectivity * Wireless solutions * Internet of Things (IoT) * Heightened customer expectations * Increased client autonomy * Environmental regulations * Efficiency/productivity prioritization * Cybersecurity awareness As a result, online auto brands are taking these changes into account to create their best digital-first customer experience for their respective client base. While the auto industry has been historically resistant to change, these trends are showing that this is one sphere that prioritizes scalability, growth, and flexibility in the digital age. In fact, experts expect to see an increase in digital investment of at least 24 percent over the next couple of years. Customer centricity is paving the way for a new, consumer-first business model in the automotive industry as a whole. This follows the idea that shoppers should be in charge of their shopping experience, particularly through the use of digital functions and devices.  To ensure a seamless transition into this strategy, auto brands must synchronize their mobile, desktop, and in-store shopping experiences to facilitate ease of use and intuitive design. As a result, customers can cultivate a shopping experience that reflects their own unique needs and goals. Why the Automotive Industry Needs a Digital-First Customer Experience Strategy [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/What-are-the-key-factors-affecting-the-automotive-industry.jpg] WHAT ARE THE KEY FACTORS AFFECTING THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY? Did you know that digital cybersecurity and personal data measures have changed significantly in the past few years? Are you aware of the environmental changes that are sweeping across the global automotive market? All of these factors, and more, are making a huge impact on the digitalization of car sales as a whole. As we’ve navigated through the recent economic downturn, amid a global pandemic, customers are looking for new ways to make their car shopping processes easier and safer than in previous years.  Cybersecurity trends are driving development across the digital sphere, including the automotive industry. To prevent data theft, identity risks, and cyber-attacks across the board, facilitating secure communications is a current necessity.  Consumers are harboring a growing distrust of digital brands, despite preferring this level of accessibility over in-person sessions.  Automotive brands are prioritizing cybersecurity by enlisting added protection through: * Data encryption * Multi-factor identification * Biometric connectivity * Secure mobile app development * Firewalls Environmental changes, and subsequent regulations surrounding fuel efficiency and waste production, is another change that is sweeping through the global automotive retail sector.  Not only have we seen an increased interest in electric vehicles, but customers are also prioritizing practical functions over flashy advertising tactics. These changes are being used by automotive brands to adapt and innovate their product offerings while adjusting their digital branding and commercial activities to appeal to this dynamic consumer base. Connected vehicles are also making waves, and affecting the widespread digitization of the auto industry. Not only are more shoppers looking for self-driving cars than in previous years, but they’re also shopping for more traditional models that offer car-to-mobile and car-to-car connectivity.  Using this type of technology, through the IoT framework, cars are learning how to make decisions using external stimulus. This can include signals provided by other internet-connected vehicles, obstacles on the road, and even commands from a mobile device.  Apps and mobile devices with connected vehicles can be used for everything from unlocking the vehicle remotely to sending information to the car’s built-in computer structure. In this way, mobile and wearable devices can connect to the vehicle to make every trip easier and more convenient – while keeping those inside and outside of the car safer than before.  Proprietary apps, augmented reality connectivity, and enhanced security measures can rely on the vehicle owner’s  Furthermore, consumers want more control in the process. From financing to delivery, shoppers are expecting to apply their lengthy research to make the best decisions for their unique needs. This means that brands have more responsibility to provide: * Intuitive site design * Functional mobile apps * Increased digitization in physical shopping spaces * Improved productivity across the supply chain * Detailed, easily accessible information and research material * Highly autonomous shopping tools and inventory management methods Shoppers don’t want to head to multiple car lots to scope out the inventory and negotiate terms with earnest salespeople. Instead, consumers are largely preferring to conduct a lot of the research and planning on their own to trim the transaction and save time from start to finish. WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY IN GLOBAL E-COMMERCE? Many industries have changed and moved to adapt to rapid changes caused by the pandemic and related economic shifts around the world. Since the automotive industry is projected to account for more than $9 trillion worldwide through 2030, this sector is responsible for a significant amount of revenue for a multitude of countries, brands, and commercial entities. But, the automotive industry is evolving. Putting customers first is essential to tapping into virtually every demographic on the market. In fact, overlooking this element of the customer experience is one of the main setbacks auto brands are experiencing in 2021. To combat economic slumps and a reduction in the sales pipeline, putting the customer at the forefront of your sales and marketing strategy (throughout digital connectivity and virtual shopping tools) is one of the most impactful data points to boost turnover, reduce cart abandonment, and increase referrals. Responding to the significant growth in digital commerce and virtual shopping trends is one of the most influential factors that can keep the automotive industry powerful and scalable as the world continues to navigate through this untouched territory. We’re all still learning about our new digitally enhanced world, and reaching customers via virtual customer experience management is at the forefront.  By quickly and seamlessly responding to consumer trends, economic changes, and even manufacturing shifts – automotive brands can continue to stay ahead of the curve and build favorable, user-friendly online experiences for every user. The automotive industry needs a digital-first customer experience to continue to keep decision-making power and autonomy in the hands of the consumer. Whether shoppers are looking for a used commuter car or a special-edition luxury model, they’re trying to move the shopping model into their own hands and out of the hands of industry retailers, salespeople, and third-party agents. This includes financing, customization, customer relationship management, and more. Tap into the growing sector of digital-first customers by building an e-commerce structure that is intuitive, scalable, and easily accessible from any and every IoT-connected device. Whether shoppers want to take their tablet to the dealership, test drive through a VR headset, or handle the entire process from their phone at home – building a digital-first customer experience is essential for all auto brands that want to keep up in this ever-changing consumer market.