An inside look at how immersive technologies can boost online sales

What tools and technologies can help auto brands and dealers compete online? By Costa Popov

Automotive consumer behavior is changing rapidly. Nowadays, more and more car buyers prefer to study and compare offers from different car manufacturers and online dealers, and only then will they visit the dealership. according to McKinsey StudyNow, more than 80% of new car customers and almost 100% of used car customers start their journey online. Thus, merchants often have only one chance to capture and maintain consumers’ attention, encouraging them to visit the dealership.

To create a “cool” effect and get consumers to test drive, car dealer websites need competitive advantages such as immersive technologies. These technologies make the online car search experience more interactive and bridge the gap between online and offline. Immersive technologies for the automotive industry include online vehicle configuration tools, 3D vehicle visualizations, augmented reality vehicle rendering, and virtual test engines.

An array of tools and technologies can help auto brands and dealers compete online.

3D components for new cars

Online configuration tools allow consumers to configure each vehicle’s choice and visualize how it will look in real life. Today, most users configure their cars on a car dealer website and visit the dealership only for a test drive or to make the final decision. That is why almost all well-known car brands offer consumers the opportunity to configure a car on their website. 3D configurators help car dealers attract customers to the show, engage them in the car search process and encourage them to buy.

Abarth virtual demo engine
Abarth introduced a VR headset preloaded with ‘test drive’ footage and a pair of Bose headphones to deliver a ‘test drive’ experience during COVID

The initial beta of the real-time 3D component on Audi.de saw a 66% increase in user interaction over the traditional 2D solution, along with increased satisfaction rates across a range of qualitative KPIs. The pilot also resulted in an average 9% increase in the choice of additional features for each vehicle. The partnership with ZeroLight, a company that provides solutions for creating 3D compositing tools, has resulted in a significant increase in the average value of the internet basket. Thomas Orens, Leading Global Digital Content and Virtual Reality at Audi AG, notes that the real-time 3D user experience is significantly improved compared to typical 2D experiences.

It should be noted that creating a 3D component requires manual 3D modeling. This is a time-consuming process: creating a high-quality 3D model of the car will take several days. This process is also expensive, and 3D modeling of one car will cost more than 500 US dollars. This is the reason why 3D components are mostly used by auto brands and major auto dealers.

3D / 360 degree visualization of new and used cars

3D / 360 degree visualization of the vehicle helps consumers see it from all angles of perception and examine fine details. Many car brands offer consumers the opportunity to inspect cars in 3D / 360 degree format. For example, Porsche consumers can see the car model from any angle And interact with it, turn the headlights on and off, or open the trunk of the car.

To create a “cool” effect and get consumers to test drive, car dealer websites need competitive advantages such as immersive technologies.

3D car visualization increases online car buyer engagement. According to Spincar, a company that provides 3D rendering solutions for vehicles, consumers spend a third of more time on a web page using a 3D image compared to displaying flat images. The conversion of interactive web pages is higher than that of 2D images by about 50%.

The opportunity to inspect the car from all angles is especially important for buyers of used cars. In this case, there is no point in creating an interactive visualization using 3D manual modeling. Used car dealers should pay attention to services that allow them to create a 3D image of a car without a 3D model. For example, using a file 3DShot Mobile application, car dealers can create an interactive demonstration of the vehicle using a smartphone. To do this, they need to open the app, circle the car, and the app will automatically create a 3D rendering of the trolley. The result can be embedded in any website such as a YouTube video.

CarSwitch and willhaben are among the first auto markets to offer buyers the opportunity to inspect vehicles in Cappasity 3D View format. Car sellers can now easily create interactive 3D demos of their vehicles using just a smartphone and attract more potential buyers to their offerings. The 3D rendering of the car helps consumers examine it as if they were offline and notice all its visual imperfections. The ability to zoom in allows the buyer to see chips, dents and dents on the vehicle and make an informed buying decision. By including a 3D visualization of a car in an online catalog, the auto dealer attracts consumers’ attention and encourages them to visit the dealership. Moreover, high quality 3D demos of used cars on the car dealer website will help build trust with customers.

View the car in augmented reality

Augmented Reality (AR) is technology that enables users to place digital objects in real life environments. Technology opens up many opportunities for car dealers. For example, it helps car buyers to imagine what a car will look like in real life, examining its dimensions and external appearance. AR technology is a great way for car dealers to capture consumers’ attention and keep them for a test drive.

A great example of the use of augmented reality in the automotive industry is the joint Porsche and Google project at Mission E Augmented Reality Request. With the app, consumers can 3D model the new Porsche Mission E (Porsche Taycan) in a realistic environment using a smartphone screen. The app allows the user to see different perspectives to study the Mission E concept, actually place them in a room, and choose their favorite color. It was also possible to take a test drive using augmented reality in the interactive driving mode. AR technology became part of the marketing strategy and helped make a “cool” effect and draw consumers’ attention to the electric vehicle concept.

Porsche Augmented Reality Application
As part of its collaboration with Google, Porsche has developed an augmented reality app that showcases the new Porsche Mission E

virtual demo engine

Virtual test drive is a relatively new service from car dealerships that gained popularity in Europe and the United States during quarantine when it was impossible to organize a real test drive at a car dealership. Italian racing and road car maker Abarth Launched the world’s first virtual reality driving experience delivered to homes. The VR headset is delivered to the customer’s home to experience the Italian sports car brand from his couch. Although nothing can compare with a real-world driving test, the virtual reality test engine offers customers an exhilarating and fully immersive alternative.

Impact of immersive technologies

Previously, many car dealers used online sales to attract the attention of potential buyers, but now e-commerce can become one of the leading sales channels. The experience of car dealers using immersive technology has proven that interactive content helps dealers stand out in today’s competitive online car market. Immersive technologies attract new customers, create a new car search experience online, and motivate consumers to visit the dealership.


About the author: Costa Popov He is the CEO and founder Capacitywhich provides an easy and scalable platform for creating, embedding and analyzing 3D and AR/VR content