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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Facebook in the Virtual and Augmented Reality Market
March 31, 2021
Virtual reality and augmented reality have become increasingly popular over the last several years. Virtual reality is technology that transports users to a simulated environment where they can explore and interact with their surroundings. Augmented reality, on the other hand, is technology that allows users to project digital elements onto their real world environment. Whereas virtual reality takes a user to a different world, augmented reality simply adds to the user’s existing world. The competition in the virtual and augmented reality market has become more intense as a result of the increased interest in these technologies. So far, the major players in the virtual and augmented reality industry are large tech companies, including Facebook. Facebook entered the market in 2014 when it acquired Oculus, a virtual reality headset manufacturer. The company released its first higher-end virtual reality headset, the Oculus Quest, in 2018. The headset was well-received by critics and consumers alike. Now, Facebook is taking additional steps in an effort to become the leader in the augmented and virtual reality market. The company recently released an updated virtual reality headset, the Oculus Quest 2, and revealed plans to develop the first pair of augmented reality glasses. WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE OCULUS QUEST 2 The Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headset was released in October 2020. Just like the original Quest device, the Oculus Quest 2 can be used either as a standalone headset or while connected to a PC. At first glance, the Oculus Quest 2 looks very similar to the original Quest. But the Quest 2 has a number of new and exciting features that sets it apart from its predecessor, including: * Lower price. There are two Quest 2 models, each with a different storage capacity and price. The 64-gigabyte Quest 2 costs $299, whereas the 256-gigabyte Quest 2 costs $399. This means consumers can get the 64-gigabyte Quest 2 for less than the cost of the original Quest. * Lighter weight. The Quest 2 is nearly 70 grams lighter than the original Quest, so many consumers may find it more comfortable to wear. * More pixels. The Quest 2 features a high resolution screen that is designed with 50% more pixels than the original model. * Faster processor. The Quest 2 is much faster than the original model due to its upgraded Qualcomm XR2 processor. It also has 6 gigabytes of RAM, compared to only 4 gigabytes on the original model. * Increased storage. The original Quest came with either 64 gigabytes or 128 gigabytes of storage. But the Quest 2 is available with 64 gigabytes or 256 gigabytes of storage. * Color. The original Quest device is black, but the new Quest 2 is a sleek white color. There are some similarities between the two models as well. Both the Quest and the Quest 2 have an estimated battery life of two to three hours. Each of these models is also designed with four built-in cameras that allow users to freely move around in their simulated environment. Both devices also give consumers access to a wide range of games within the Oculus library. Facebook in the Virtual and Augmented Reality Market [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/What-Can-You-Do-With-An-Oculus-Quest-2.jpg] WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH AN OCULUS QUEST 2? There are many ways to use an Oculus Quest 2, including: * Play Games * Exercise * Watch Movies and TV * Attend Live Events * Explore Nature * Relive Historic Moments * Hang Out With Other Users * Access A Virtual Desktop PLAY GAMES There are countless virtual games in the Oculus library, including puzzles, multiplayer battle games, shooting games, escape rooms, adventure games, and popular arcade games. Because there are so many games to choose from, there is truly something for everyone to play in the Oculus library. EXERCISE There’s more to the Quest 2 than fun and games. You can also use your Quest 2 device to engage in various types of virtual exercises, including dance, high-intensity workouts, and boxing. You can even burn calories while practicing your golf swing or playing a round of tennis against another virtual user. There are plenty of fun and exciting ways to break a sweat. WATCH MOVIES AND TV Binge watch all of your favorite TV shows and movies using the Oculus Quest 2 device. The movie or TV show will be displayed on a large virtual screen in a cozy virtual theater, which makes it feel like you’re at a real movie theater. You can use the device to access Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and other major streaming services. It also connects to YouTube, so you can watch your favorite funny videos within your virtual theater. ATTEND LIVE EVENTS Use the Virtual Venues VR experience in the Oculus library to attend a live concert, comedy special, or sporting event without ever leaving your home. Once you’ve arrived, look around you to see other virtual fans who are attending from all over the world. You can get a front row seat at these live events for a small fee or watch from a box seat, which is positioned further away from the action, for free. EXPLORE NATURE Travel to far off destinations to explore beautiful beaches, tropical jungles, dusty deserts, and underwater oceans using the Quest 2 device. You can even see what it feels like to travel to the top of Mount Everest on the Everest VR experience within the Oculus library. You will be completely immersed in whatever environment you choose, so it will feel as if you are actually there. RELIVE HISTORIC MOMENTS A number of apps within the Oculus library allow you to relive famous historical moments. For example, the Apollo 11 VR experience recreates the historic mission to the moon. You can experience every moment from launch to landing inside the space shuttle with the rest of the crew. HANG OUT WITH OTHER USERS Most virtual reality apps are single-player experiences, but the Rec Room app gives you an opportunity to virtually hang out with friends, family members, or other virtual users from around the world. What you do inside the rec room is up to you. Some people prefer simply hanging out and chatting with their virtual friends, whereas others like to challenge their guests to fun games such as dodgeball or paintball. ACCESS A VIRTUAL DESKTOP Interact with your desktop computer screen in a virtual world using the Virtual Desktop VR experience. You can connect up to four different computers and switch back and forth between screens in seconds. You can also seamlessly scroll between monitors if you have a multi-monitor configuration. This app makes it easier–and more fun–than ever before to juggle more than one computer or computer monitor. However, this experience is only compatible with Windows 8.1 or 10. Facebook in the Virtual and Augmented Reality Market [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/What-is-Facebooks-Project-Aria.jpg] WHAT IS FACEBOOK’S PROJECT ARIA? Facebook is already a major player in the virtual reality market, but it could soon be a leader in the augmented reality market as well. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg previously announced that the company is in the process of developing a pair of augmented reality glasses. But first, the company is launching Project Aria, which is a research project that will allow Facebook to gather the data that it needs to perfect the technology for augmented reality glasses. Last year, Facebook announced that they were sending about 100 researchers into the field in Seattle and San Francisco as part of the company’s Project Aria initiative. Each of the researchers will wear a pair of glasses equipped with sensors that will allow them to map their real world environment. The sensors on the Project Aria glasses are designed to capture video and audio footage of the wearer’s immediate surroundings. These sensors will also track the wearer’s eye movement and provide Facebook with location data. The purpose of this project is to collect a vast amount of data that will help Facebook understand what it will need to build the necessary software and hardware for augmented reality glasses. This project is seen as Facebook’s first major step toward reaching its goal of developing augmented reality glasses. HOW IS FACEBOOK ADDRESSING PRIVACY CONCERNS RELATED TO PROJECT ARIA? Facebook’s decision to send researchers into the real world to gather audio and video footage of their surroundings has raised a number of privacy concerns. The researchers will be wearing lanyards to identify themselves while out in public. But unless members of the public are familiar with Project Aria, they may not understand what these lanyards mean. This means anyone who is in the same area as one of the Project Aria researchers could be captured on audio or video without their knowledge or consent. This isn’t the only reason why people are concerned about Project Aria. Many people are also concerned about the possibility that the audio or video footage could contain potentially sensitive information, including license plates. If this data is not properly protected, it could fall into the wrong hands. Facebook has acknowledged the public’s privacy concerns related to Project Aria. But the company has promised to handle all data with care and provide training to researchers to ensure they know how to use the devices responsibly. Facebook is only allowing employees and contractors to participate in Project Aria. Everyone who wears a pair of Project Aria glasses is given specific instructions on when and where to use the device. Researchers are allowed to wear the glasses to collect data in public places, but they cannot collect data in certain public areas, including public restrooms. According to Facebook, researchers will not have access to the data collected by the sensors right away. Instead, the data will enter a three-day quarantine period after it is collected. During this period, sensitive information and identifying facial features will be blurred. This process was put in place to protect the public and ease privacy concerns. Furthermore, Facebook will encrypt the data before it is uploaded from the devices to a separate storage space. This will make it even harder for non-authorized parties to access the data. Facebook has also promised that the data will not be used to determine what ads people see when using the company’s apps. Instead, the company promises that it is only using the data to assist with the production of augmented reality software and hardware. It’s clear that Facebook has made an effort to address the public’s privacy concerns, but it’s not clear whether the company has done enough to make the public comfortable with Project Aria. Facebook in the Virtual and Augmented Reality Market [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/What-Are-the-Four-Ethical-Principles-Guiding-Facebooks-Augmented-Reality-Efforts.jpg] WHAT ARE THE FOUR ETHICAL PRINCIPLES GUIDING FACEBOOK’S AUGMENTED REALITY EFFORTS? Facebook released a set of four ethical principles that will guide much of their future work, including Project Aria and other augmented reality efforts. These four ethical principles are: * Being clear about what Facebook products do, which includes outlining how the products should and should not be used. * Putting the user in control of their own experience. * Evaluating the impact that the product has on the user as well as those around the user. * Striving to meet the needs of both the Facebook business and the community as a whole. If there is ever a conflict between these two interests, Facebook will always do what is best for the community rather than the business. These are solid ethical principles, but many people are still skeptical about whether or not Facebook is committed to adhering by them. WHEN WILL FACEBOOK RELEASE AUGMENTED REALITY GLASSES? For years, Zuckerberg has repeated that Facebook is serious about developing augmented reality glasses. But last year, he admitted that developing augmented reality glasses is no small feat. He acknowledged that it may be years before Facebook’s first pair of augmented reality glasses ever hits the market. However, it is possible that other Facebook products will hit the market in the years leading up to the debut of the company’s augmented reality glasses. In fact, Facebook is expected to release a pair of smart glasses within the next year. Few details have been released so far, but experts believe that the smart glasses will be similar to Snapchat’s Spectacles. Facebook’s actions over the last several years have shown that the company is committed to becoming a leader in virtual and augmented reality. The wait for the world’s first pair of augmented reality glasses is far from over, but for now, there are plenty of other virtual reality and augmented reality products available to consumers.
What is Extended Reality (XR) and How Do We Use It Everyday?
March 30, 2021
Virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality all hold different meanings. Virtual reality includes all graphic components that exist in a separate realm and is often accessed via goggles or other headsets. Augmented reality includes graphic overlays on top of a real-world environment. And mixed reality is a mix of the virtual and augmented realms; users interact with both real and virtual environments. Some consumers might also have seen a term called extended reality (XR). What is extended reality and how do we use it every day? Extended reality is simply the term used to encompass all these technologies—virtual, augmented, and mixed. Extended reality is not a separate technology. Elements of extended reality exist in many facets of our lives. Here’s how we can use extended reality as we go about our day. The incorporation of augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality might surprise you! What is Extended Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Augmented-Reality-to-Display-Art.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY TO DISPLAY ART Not everyone can own a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. For many, rare works of art are out of the budget. Augmented reality might be changing the art world by allowing masterpieces and unique art creations to become accessible to a wider audience. Smithsonian Magazine explored how art was going augmented…and could be enjoyed from home using this technology. Smithsonian reported that artist Jenny Holzer’s work can be displayed in the home via an app. The same article detailed how Serpentine Galleries had to find a safe way to showcase a virtual reality art experience called The Eternal Wave by artist Cao Fei; allowing patrons to don goggles wasn’t an option. An augmented reality experience via phones became the solution. The augmented reality experience could be accessed via an app called Acute Art. The full experience could be accessed in the gallery, but a smaller “sample” could be enjoyed from anywhere. Could augmented reality be the future of how we enjoy art? Both Holzer’s and Fei’s work were either conceptual and/or multimedia and could translate to a tech platform; Holzer’s work includes LED signs. Fei’s exhibit was supposed to be experienced via virtual reality so the augmented reality pivot made sense. Yet, the potential for augmented reality could lead to other uses in the art world. During Covid, museums offered virtual tours of galleries. Some even provided at-home art classes. Perhaps famous works of art could be enjoyed via augmented reality at home. Art could be enjoyed and experienced in a living room. The home could transform into a gallery. What is Extended Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Cooking-with-Augmented-Reality.jpg] COOKING WITH AUGMENTED REALITY Augmented reality might be ready to invade the kitchen! Yes, you may soon be able to cook up some culinary masterpieces thanks to augmented reality. Zack Johnson and a few fellow peers at Dartmouth used Magic Leap to create an augmented reality cooking experience app called Cook Along. The app required that users wear the Magic Leap during the experience. The augmented reality experience takes them through every step of the recipe. They see the directions as well as the ingredients. Johnson explained in an article via Forbes that users could even watch someone demonstrate a particular step. If you don’t know how to whisk, maybe this was shown. This helps simplify cooking, especially for those who aren’t masterful in the kitchen. While Johnson noted that the app wasn’t going to be available via Magic Leap, the article included a link to the app. Could apps like Cook Along be the future of cooking? Following a recipe can be frustrating, especially for those who are unsure how to interpret certain directions. A scene in Schitt’s Creek, for example, featured David asking Moira how to fold in the cheese while making enchiladas. Her response? You fold it in! Perhaps cooking apps that utilize augmented reality could show exactly how to fold in the cheese! AUGMENTED REALITY HELPS CONSUMERS PREVIEW RESTAURANTS, TOO While cooking apps could be a future phenomenon, there is an app that lets consumers see the food at restaurants or when ordering online. Not sure if that Chicken Carbonara is really going to be as amazing as the photos? Apps can help visualize the menu via augmented reality food. Could restaurants follow the trend and begin to offer augmented reality experiences of their food? Maybe previewing the menu happens via virtual or augmented reality in the future. Those interested in exploring augmented reality for ordering takeout can do a quick search for these apps via the App Store or Google Play. ESPRESSO MACHINES IN AUGMENTED REALITY Many enjoy a cup of coffee to perk up in the morning. Maybe the pandemic meant more of that coffee was brewed at home. Some may be considering upgrading to a fancy new espresso machine. But how will that machine look in the kitchen? Does it complement the other appliances? The hunt for the perfect espresso or coffee machine doesn’t need to be a mystery thanks to augmented reality. Whole Latte Love offers an augmented reality experience that lets consumers drop those investment machines that brew java magic right into their kitchen. See what model looks best…and fits the space. AUGMENTED REALITY WINE LABELS Pop open a bottle of Phantom Wine and have some fun with augmented reality, too. Wine has gone augmented! According to the Augmented Wine Labels app by the winery, Phantom Wines has been haunted by a presence…the phantom. Using the augmented reality app, the wine label becomes the ticket to a unique experience. Find the phantom and learn about the winery and its history. However, according to Wine Industry Advisor, the augmented reality wine label is becoming quite popular in the industry. The publication notes that hundreds (more than 500!) of wineries have embraced augmented reality and AI; the technology was built by Winerytale. That bottle of merlot now may have more body to it than the depth of the wine. The label may hold the key to a unique augmented reality experience! What is Extended Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Augmented-Reality-in-the-Car.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY IN THE CAR The drive time includes augmented reality, too! Now more than ever, the vehicles consumers drive include high-technology features like augmented reality. Backup cameras not only show the real-world background behind the vehicle, but they also project grid lines detailing the turning radius. This is augmented reality! GPS systems used in vehicles often include augmented reality, too. They may show the real environment while also projecting directions or arrows showing when or where to turn. Some vehicles have these types of augmented reality details built into the car, too. Smart rearview mirrors also include projections of the rear scenes of the car along with other details or data. Cars of the future likely may include even more unique technological features. We could see smart windshields or even self-driving cars. Projections of helpful avatars could enter the vehicle, too. Car manufacturers are working on all types of new technology to improve the driving experience. AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY FOR SHOPPING Many consumers shop online. Stores and businesses are adopting virtual or augmented reality experiences to improve the user experience in commerce. For example, there may be augmented reality features that allow shoppers to preview cosmetic colors or paint hues on walls. With augmented reality, shoppers no longer have to guess about the appearance of a purchase. They can preview those hues or maybe even virtually try on garments. Some apps even let users preview new hairstyles or hair colors. Will that bob haircut flatter the face? Stop guessing and use augmented reality! Even shopping for a new car became an augmented or virtual experience. RelayCars allows users to download either the augmented reality app or the virtual reality app to preview new cars and research their features before heading to a dealership. The augmented reality app lets users drop specific car models anywhere—inside a room or even in the garage or the driveway. The virtual reality app transports users to a virtual showroom. Both apps let users peek inside the vehicle and switch out paint hues. While many parts of the country may be opening back up to more foot traffic, some shoppers may prefer to research their options online. Buying a new car can now include virtual experiences to simplify the shopping process. Use augmented reality or virtual reality to find favorite makes and models, then visit the dealership to view them in person! What is Extended Reality [https://relaycars.gryffin.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Augmented-Reality-and-the-Smart-Home.jpg] AUGMENTED REALITY AND THE SMART HOME Augmented reality could control the home in the future. According to an article via As Mag, Hayo is creating a device that will easily control appliances and other tech in the home. The Hayo device (which looks a bit like a small speaker) maps out the room. Using an app for Hayo, homeowners can create buttons to control functions in the home…and the buttons can be anywhere! Touching the couch cushion could turn on the coffee maker…or whatever the Hayo controls. The app apparently lets users control where they place ‘virtual buttons.’ While smart home technology has usually been controlled via a handheld device like a smartphone or a tablet, Hayo might simplify typical functions in the home and users won’t have to be tethered to their devices. There are so many ways that augmented and virtual reality mix into everyday life. And all these technological features in our homes, cars and within user experiences online make up extended reality. The advancement of tech know-how may mean that virtual and augmented reality will continue to creep into our daily routine. One day, we all may be wearing glasses to see the virtual and augmented world around us!