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By 9 July 2019 | Categories: news

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Emerging technologies are just about everywhere today, from financial institutions and hotels to one’s living room. The latest foray where virtual reality is making its mark? The car dealership floor.

More particularly, at Audi’s dealership in Centurion, as the company recently launched its Customer Private Lounge (CPL).

Equipped with an Occulus Rift and specialized, custom  built software, Audi demonstrated how prospective customers can virtually sit inside the car of  their choice, have a full 360 degree of it in a variety of  environments, customize  it to  their heart’s content, and see how those changes will look before their eyes.

What’s startling is the level of detail – from personal experience, you can see the texture on the steering wheel, the information conveyed by the heads-ups display, and, from the exterior, the sheen of the paint job. At the launch event, the company explained that the software enables them to display the full range of Audi vehicles without having to bear considerable expense of expanding their physical showroom.

Trevor Hill, the head of Audi South Africa, explained that the CPL brings the  company’s South African branches in line with the rest  of the world, throughout which there are  400  such setups. “Digitalisation is a key part of Audi’s global corporate strategy, and the CPL is  a great example of this.  It’s also a great opportunity to introduce this form of innovation and technology within the South African automotive industry and to have progressive dealer partners such as Audi Centre Centurion, who have presented a truly premium retail experience to Audi customers,” he elaborated.       

Based on our time spent with the technology, it also produced a more intimate, engaging retail experience than what the traditional car purchasing experience would offer. The company achnowledged that the investment in creating the virtual reality setup and the CPL was not insignificant – at around R800 000 – in part due to it being imported and the exchange rate. However. Hill pointed out that this was a fraction of the cost of trying to build a large bricks and mortar showroom to house more vehicles, which building restraints would also render infeasible.

Watch Trevor Hill explain the company’s approach to its digitalization below and CPL consultant Elzaan Marais walk through how it works.

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