Virtual and augmented reality are going to change the way we buy cars. That’s according to marketing director of Porsche Asia Pacific Carl Isenbeck, who said in an interview published Friday that the technology could permanently alter showrooms, adding a new dimension to the car buying experience.
“We are for sure looking at AR and VR, there are no other ways around it,” Isenbeck told The Drum. “We know it will be the technology of the future and it will revolutionise the way we interact with products.”
Virtual reality has crept its way into the mainstream, with the PlayStation VR and Samsung Gear VR offering an affordable way for consumers to try out VR-powered apps for themselves. But while these gadgets show promise, Isenbeck is reluctant to commit to any sort of long-term plan for the company’s showrooms. The problem is, looking at a car in VR means the buyer doesn’t get the same feel as they would from a real drive. This, Isenbeck admits, could change in the future.
The lack of haptic feedback is an issue many virtual reality developers have tried to work around. Mario Kart Arcade GP VR brings this sense of feedback by placing drivers in a moving chair. This could work as a viable model for the showroom, where buyers could try out the car in a simulation, but the arcade-style gameplay of Mario Kart means Porsche would likely need to look to something more realistic.
An alternative solution may follow along the lines of BMW. The automaker has designed a virtual reality-powered car simulation for testing out new designs. A water-cooled, overclocked Intel Core i7 processor is paired up with two Nvidia Titan X graphic cards. With a HTC Vive headset strapped in, BMW can simulate cars 16.4 feet in each direction. A solution like this could help Porsche save money on retail space.
“While they [VR cars] are not real, it is a good thing to have in a showroom,” Isenbeck said. “It is expensive to have a car standing there and it takes up space. The dealers have to buy the car first and then they still have to sell it.”