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March 29, 2017

Ford rolls out virtual try before you buy to supercharge test drives

Ford has announced that it will be using VR technology to enhance consumer interactions by offering virtual customisation and test drives to customers.

By Joe Clark

Ford has announced new plans to integrate Virtual Reality (VR) into the retail purchasing experience, as the technology becomes more common.

The new sales method will involve consumers selecting the options for the car in a virtual space and then allow them to take their digital car for a simulated test drive.

The automotive company has said that using VR, consumers will be able to customise every possible option, including colours and interiors. Customers will then have the chance to choose when and where they wish to simulate the test drive, from city roads in the daytime, to rural settings at midnight.


Jeffrey Nowak, global digital experience chief, Ford Motor Company, said: “It really is a blank canvas. It is easy to imagine that someone who wants to buy an SUV could experience taking that car for a test drive over desert dunes without leaving the comfort of their home.”

“Likewise, if you’re in the market for a city car you could be at home, relaxing in your PJs and fit in trying out the peak-time school run after you’ve put the kids to bed.”

Ford currently use VR in the design process of their vehicles, from its Design Studio, in Cologne, in Germany, but this makes a step into a consumer facing application of the technology.

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A VR solution to test drives is expected to help reduce costs, and increase accessibility due to the lack of need for a physical component.

The move by Ford follows in the footsteps of BMW and Accenture who in January tested out similar technology using Google’s Tango technology.

Read more: Google Tango, Accenture & BMW create an augmented reality revolution

The need for this kind of technology has arisen from the growing problem of the ‘deciders dilemma’ which, as the internet has grown, seen consumers overwhelmed by the amount of choices they have.

Due to the number of options available, consumers have grown much more comfortable with ‘try before you buy’ initiatives, something which has been historically much harder to accommodate with vehicles.

Sheryl Connelly, Ford global trend and futuring manager, said: “With the internet, consumers face an abundance of choice – impacting their attitudes toward commitment.”

“Products and services are adapting to accommodate a ‘sampling society’ that prioritises trying over buying.”

Ford have stated that they are currently investigating other possible applications for new technologies to enhance consumer experiences such as holograms, as well as VR.


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