The automotive industry is growing again after a down peak in 2020, and the market is just restarting its engines, even if global sales are forecast to fall to just under 70 million units in 2021, down from a peak of almost 80 million units in 2017 (source: Statista).
As an exciting report by Google states, 95% of vehicle buyers use digital as a source of information to answer their questions, and the average automotive shopper spends 33% of their research time on a mobile device, according to this survey.
Considering these data, it’s easy to understand why many big players in the automotive market started to explore Augmented Reality — technology that overlays digital content and information onto the physical environment — as a tool to reach new customers and make their communication more engaging and appealing. From allowing consumers to virtually test-drive vehicles to giving them the chance to experiment with cars’ features before buying, brands like Ford, BMW, MG Motor, Porsche, Jaguar Land Rover are already using AR to transform their customer experience.
The popularity of AR in the automotive industry is partly driven by consumer demand. Reports show that 50% of consumers prefer to shop at retailers that offer AR experiences, while 4 in 10 customers would pay a higher price for a product they were allowed to preview with AR.
Of course, AR in automotive doesn’t have to be necessarily a prerogative of big producers, but also smaller car dealers can boost sales and stand out from the competition, offering their customers engaging virtual experiences. But let’s see how.
AR Gives Customers a More Comfortable Buying Experience
What if you could buy a car while sitting on your couch? It’s the opportunity Ford gives to its customers with Augmented Reality. The American automaker uses this technology to bring customers up close to its new Mustang Mach-E, allowing potential buyers to virtually explore the vehicle from their home while simultaneously listening to designers and engineers providing information on its features.
This kind of AR experience allows customers to interact with the vehicle they like without going in-store, beginning the decisional process (and the customer experience) from home before going to the closest dealer.
Of course, the primary constraint with AR is the implementation’s costs: creating custom AR experiences can be expensive, so it’s developing a native app to access them.
However, thanks to WebAR, it is possible to share experiences via a simple URL. With Aryel, everyone can create their WebAR marketing campaign.
Aryel platform allows even smaller auto dealers to create custom WebAR experiences in three easy steps, integrate them into their e-commerce with a URL and collect helpful information, enhancing ROI and boosting sales.
AR for Automotive Advertisements
Unlike conventional ads, WebAR campaigns are unique and engaging.
According to this report, AR advertising is very appealing to the viewer in the emotional connection – making them able to almost see and feel the object. From the customers’ point of view, interacting with a 3D-AR ad gives a much more interactive experience, which provides a more emotional connection between them and the brand.
Also, this kind of campaign is highly interactive and can feature gamification assets that create commitment among users and help boost sales, making the whole decision process more accessible and funnier.
AR-powered driving and repair assistance
Last but not least, AR can be a powerful tool to make driving safer and easier; some brands like BMW are already experimenting with this technology.
In fact, BMW implemented on some premium models an AR navigation screen that displays navigational instructions and information over objects in real-time through the live camera view within the dashboard. Turn instructions, street names, and building addresses are just some of the mapping features that display to the driver as they roll on by.
PSA Groupe, on its part (the French owner of several multinational car brands including Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Opel, and Vauxhall), developed a heads-up display system, which projects light onto the windscreen of their cars. Safety features include a lane-keeping assist, obstacle warning, and pedestrian detection.
On the other hand, AR can also be helpful on the production and repair side; thanks to AR, technicians can communicate with experts in real-time and receive all the necessary information for car repair. In this way, they can identify problems faster, reduce the number of errors (and therefore costs), and speed up the repair process.
Augmented reality is changing not only the way customers shop for cars but also the whole automotive industry. As a result, drivers will increasingly favor automotive eCommerce websites that offer AR experiences. Already, retailers that use AR and 3D are seeing an almost 20% increase in engagement rates, with conversion rates growing by 90% for customers that engage with AR.