A virtual car yard: Land Rover creates immersive SUV experience

Land Rover is jumping on the VR bandwagon in a bid sell SUVs before they even arrive in the country.

The VR technology recently introduced into its car dealerships around New Zealand allows customers to visualise the proportions of the new model by wearing a headset.

New Zealand general manager of Jaguar Land Rover Steve Kenchington says it’s particularly beneficial for those who are new to the brand, as they would have previously waited until a demonstrator was available before making a purchase.

“These are premium vehicles which are high involvement purchases and buyers will often take weeks or months to make a choice which best matches their requirements.

“While there has sometimes been a historic reluctance to buy a vehicle off the brochure, we have found experiencing the model in virtual reality has helped inform the customer sufficiently, and they are able to make a decision without having to view the car in the showroom.”

There are a number of elements needed to educate a customer before they can feel comfortable with their purchase and Kenchington says the first step is to make the sales proposition make sense to the buyer.

“They must weigh up the perceived value for money offered against their current needs,” he says.

“Then, there is an aesthetically driven, experiential factor – where the buyer interacts with the vehicle.”

The VR technology allows the potential customers to get an understanding of the relative size of the vehicle as well as customise it to their specifications.

“For our dealer network, this technology is helping to transform the way we sell cars – it helps us overcome the geographic barrier which prevents us from bringing in new models as quickly as other markets which are closer to the point of manufacture,” Kenchington says.

The new technology has already proven itself to be a valuable sales tool, as the first two shipments of the new Land Rover Discovery have been sold before they reaching the country.

And while Land Rover is using VR to educate potential customers about its cars, recently NZ Fire Service’s and FCB used it to educate New Zealanders about the dangers of house fires and how to get out alive.

In the first weeks, the online tool put more than 120,000 users inside a house fire, with locals accessing it as well as those in Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Taiwan and the United States.

ITM also put the technology to the test earlier this year, with a VR fishing competition via JustOne. It saw 3,000 headsets be given away to local builders in an effort to make them aware of the ITM app.

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