Virtual Reality for the car industry and automotive
VR is being touted as a means to enhance training, product design and development, virtual showrooms and consumer research in the automotive industry.
According to a report, VR use in the automotive industry will amount to 14 billion by 2027. In addition, use of VR for training will increase in comparison to the other segments such as design and prototyping and research & development.
This article further discusses the benefits of using VR and its applications in the automotive industry.
Benefits of VR for the automotive industry
Many automotive manufacturers have come to understand the importance of integrating VR into the automotive industry, from increasing employee efficiency to creating new experiences for consumers.
Safe and realistic training
From concept and design to product development and launch, automakers are turning real-world scenarios into virtual simulations for training personnel. These scenarios allow personnel to understand and master vehicle complexity and practice mechanical skills as often as needed.
Virtual reality provides an immersive experience that allows students to build knowledge but also practice cognitive skills, such as long-term memory. Moreover, in virtual reality, you train in a safe and controlled environment making risks low.
Virtual Reality combined with artificial intelligence can help trainers record, analyze and report employee performance. For example, a trainer can observe trainees in a virtual environment and record physiological data such as visual-spatial memory, heart rate and number of trials and errors.
A revolution in consumer purchasing
Virtual Reality for cars can significantly improve the buyer’s search for a car. Using VR, consumers can virtually visit a showroom, explore different cars, avoid biased sales pitches and make an informed decision to purchase a car of their choice.
Using VR to market cars to consumers not only demonstrates a new way to acquire customers, but also leads to an increase in customer retention rates and promotes business growth.
Automakers rely heavily on traditional marketing materials such as brochures, videos and one-on-one interactions to provide information about the latest and upcoming cars. Virtual Reality, on the other hand, encompasses all traditional experiences and makes them immersive and interactive for consumers.
Instead of using existing marketing tools, manufacturers or dealers can cut costs by offering 360-degree virtual tours that customers can view from the comfort of their own homes. This would speed up the buying process.
Use cases for VR for the automotive industry
The digital twin of the assembly line
Assembly lines are becoming increasingly complex, and without proper guidance or training, personnel would find it hard to adjust to certain conditions.
In such a scenario, a virtual experience that mimics assembly line workstations can familiarize personnel with the various components and functions of a vehicle.
An immersive onboarding experience can give new trainees or employees an idea of the work environment and help them easily step into their roles.
Conducting market research
Before the product is developed on the assembly line, designers can use VR to test the vehicle among a group of people.
Unlike traditional research methodologies that rely on focus groups, in-store observation and questionnaires, Virtual Reality offers fully immersive research, allowing for deeper insights into user behavior, movement and heart rate.
Using such analyses, neuro-marketers or manufacturers can understand what kind of car design or marketing communications would suit people in a particular demographic.
Virtual prototyping and visualization
Virtual reality prototyping helps design teams create immersive digital replicas of a model to test the concept. It transcends paper- or desktop-based prototypes to a virtual prototype that design engineers can collectively modify.
By letting the engineers experience the prototype in VR, they can try out different attributes and view details, such as changing the color or parts to create multiple versions or even placing the logo on the VR model to see how it looks.
For example, McLaren automotive, in collaboration with a startup, used vector-suite VR to design its supercars. With vector-suite’s VR platform, designers can visualize vehicle ergonomics and 3D design
VR technology can help auto marketers create out-of-the-box experiences for their target audience. Imagine a customer walking into the virtual showroom and getting up close to a virtual 3D car and experiencing the car’s interior and exterior.
To further enhance the experience, car dealers or manufacturers can add a simulator that can give customers a real-life driving experience and test drive the car as often as they want.
Salespeople typically rely on verbal interactions to entice potential car buyers. It’s a great approach to tell customers about new car models and help them make an informed choice, but it lacks actual driving experience.
What if customers could observe driving in cities, on a highway or in a mountainous area in 360 degrees? Instead of showing customers car models in brochures or videos, vendors can use VR to create an immersive and exciting experience for passengers and give them a taste of what it would be like to drive the vehicle.
Companies using VR for Automotive
Honda Motor Company
To launch the all-new 2022 Acura MDX, Honda used Virtual Reality to simulate each assembly step for the MDX so that each assembly worker could be trained with a car at multiple stations in different stages of assembly.
This not only helps the company make its production network flexible and efficient, but also improves employees’ understanding of the assembly process.
Renault’s Romanian subsidiary used CAVE technology for their 7-passenger family car Dacia Jogger for market research. Using the VR environment, the manufacturers wanted to test the third row of seats in the Jogger.
The companies invited 13 members to test the seats and give their feedback. The VR technology allowed engineers to move the third row of seats forward 20 millimeters. Instead of making prototype after prototype, the engineers were able to use VR to change things and evaluate them based on the feedback.
MG Motors India recently launched MGverse, a metaverse platform that will provide immersive experiences to its customers through multiple arenas. Through MGverse, the company aims to bring MG fans, customers, partners and employees within the virtual space to collaborate, work, socialize and store.
South Korean automaker KIA Motors has partnered with VR hardware’s most advanced developer, Varjo, to design car models in virtual space. The Varjo headset allowed Kia engineers to take their design work to new heights by enabling them to visualize photo-realistic car models.
By incorporating VR into the design work, the design engineers were able to bring their colleagues into the virtual environment and get instant feedback on the design. According to Frank Hubbe, General Manager, Design at Kia Motors, Europe, VR helps them save a tremendous amount of money, time and work.
Earlier this year, Audi announced it will use Holoride, the development of an in-car VR system, to enhance the in-car passenger experience.
Holoride’s VR application allows passengers in the back seat to experience an exciting game from the beginning of their journey. The timeline of the game is customized to the user’s destination. Using the data coming from sensors in the car, the application creates a dynamic VR experience that leads to “a perfect synchronous journey through virtual worlds.”
German car manufacturer Porsche is using virtual reality to enhance customers’ sales experience. Both in showrooms and at trade shows, customers can view the interior and exterior of a new car.
In addition, Porsche is using VR to retrain their sales department, where employees can visualize complex technologies in a virtual world. In this way, employees gain knowledge about different parts of a machine and their functions.
Changing customer expectations and employee learning and development have prompted automakers to use immersive technologies such as VR .
Automotive paves the way forward
Car manufacturers were one of the first to get started with virtual reality and continue to push the possibilities of the medium. At every stage of the process from design and training to sales and use, they know how to find a place for immersive technology.