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