Advertisement

Audi dealers looking into a virtual reality future

We see how Audi is rolling out virtual reality software to rejuvenate the dealership experience and train its staff

Audi, like most brands, knows that the impact of a traditional car dealership has lessened in recent years. Thanks to the internet and the vast array of opinion and information car buyers are able to access through it, punters arriving at a showroom are often just as well-informed as the salespeople. If they arrive at the showroom at all.   

Advertisement - Article continues below

"Nowadays, customers only come to our dealers to talk about price" an Audi R&D manager bluntly told us. "But we're looking to change that". And the answer, according to Audi, lies in virtual reality.

Best sat-navs to buy now

The German brand is now using the latest generation of the immersive graphic experience software to benefit both customers and sales managers in its dealer locations. We were given a brief tour showing the latest tech that is set to roll out to Audi's centres across the world.

Audi Virtual Training Car

One of the ways Audi is helping its sales managers explain the vast array of driver assistant gadgetry now fitted to its cars is with this: the 'Virtual Training Car'. Essentially, it's an A4 saloon with a boot crammed full of electronic wizardy, a virtual reality headset hardwired into the car's brain and some trick graphics software. 

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Apple CarPlay: review and info

Advertisement - Article continues below

We were given a brief demonstration of how the Virtual Training Car can help Audi employees experience and the tech first-hand so, as retail research and development head Martin Schultz Beerhorst put it, they can "explain the systems from the heart and not just from a piece of paper".

Climbing into the driver's seat and sliding the VR headset over my face, things start to get a bit bizarre as the A4's interior is immaculately recreated in a computer-generated (but very real-feeling) world. Through the headset the car appears to be parked in a typical German high street, although it's actually just on a piece of flat, empty tarmac outside Munich airport. 

I'm instructed to drive off wearing the headset, negotiate a slalom course of cones down the virtual high street and turn around a virtual roundabout. After i speed up to 25mph, which is more than fast enough when you can't actually see where you're going in the real world, the A4's hazard recognition system picks up a virtual cyclist weaving into the road.

Advertisement - Article continues below

While that distracts my attention, a virtual pedestrian with a pram runs into the road in front of me. Audi's 'pre-sense' post-collision tech has already noticed that, primed the braking system and vibrated the middle pedal to make me notice as well. As I react with my own foot, the car comes to an abrupt halt.  

While it may seem like a bit of a game, Audi's engineers tell us the experience is real enough to shock a number of salespeople who have tried it out. The brand claims it is the first to do this, and over 5,000 staff have tried it out at its Munich centre. The hope is that the system can eventually showcase every type of driver assist system, and potential customers as well as staff can experience it first-hand.

Virtual Engineering Terminal

Audi is also committed to improving the tech experience inside the dealership itself. One way it is doing this is with the Virtual Engineering Terminal - a screen-based module that demonstrates several of its vehicle features.

Only three of these systems are in existence so far, with each costing over £30,000, but the plan is to roll them out across a number of dealers worldwide. A horizontal 1.4m touchscreen is mated to a 65-inch monitor, with data being fed from computer and cameras detecting the movements of model cars on the touchscreen surface.

Android Auto: full review and user guide

The system can realistically showcase, either from a bird's eye view or a cockpit view, how features such as Matrix LED lighting, traffic-jam assist and park assist operate. The brand will also push forward with offering virtual reality systems to aid the car configuration process, with stunningly realistic recreations of customer cars that people can virtually sit in and walk around. 

Do you like the idea of virtual reality tech rolling out into car dealerships? Share your thoughts in the comments...

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended

New Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback concept leaked ahead of launch
Audi

New Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback concept leaked ahead of launch

Audi's all-electric Q4 e-tron concept will offer coupe style in the electric SUV segment
7 Jul 2020
Audi's 1980s rallying revolution - Motorsport Moments
Audi

Audi's 1980s rallying revolution - Motorsport Moments

A humble 4x4 inspired engineers to build the Audi Quattro, the car that transformed the WRC
15 Jun 2020
VW emissions scandal: VW installed ‘defeat devices’ in thousands of cars, High Court finds
VW Emissions scandal update 2
Volkswagen

VW emissions scandal: VW installed ‘defeat devices’ in thousands of cars, High Court finds

The UK’s High Court has ruled that VW installed devices to cheat emissions tests in thousands of its cars
6 Apr 2020
What is Audi's Virtual Cockpit?
Audi Virtual Cockpit - header
Audi

What is Audi's Virtual Cockpit?

We give you the lowdown on Audi's hi-tech dashboard display screen, the Virtual Cockpit
24 Mar 2020

Most Popular

Skoda Octavia Estate vs Toyota Corolla Touring Sports
Estates

Skoda Octavia Estate vs Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

Skoda’s new Octavia Estate has moved upmarket. We find out if it’s a better wagon than the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports
4 Jul 2020
New Skoda Octavia vRS line-up completed as petrol and diesel models arrive
Skoda Octavia vRS Hatchback

New Skoda Octavia vRS line-up completed as petrol and diesel models arrive

Skoda has unwrapped the complete Octavia line-up, which now offers a choice of petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid powertrains
3 Jul 2020
New Ineos Grenadier 4x4: prices, specs and video of the Land Rover Defender rival
Ineos Grenadier

New Ineos Grenadier 4x4: prices, specs and video of the Land Rover Defender rival

The Ineos Grenadier will be built in Wales and will use BMW engines, but fuel-cell electrification is also likely in the future
7 Jul 2020