Buying a new car is one of the biggest purchases most people make. But how can you be sure that the car you order will live up to your expectations? European and Asian researchers are using immersive virtual reality and emotional design to offer a solution.
Most people do not buy cars on a whim and most do not want just a standard model. They will often spend weeks comparing features before deciding whether to splurge on leather seats or put the money towards high-performance alloy wheels instead.
The customer’s choices will not be based on functionality alone – if that were the case we would all drive the most fuel-efficient vehicles that can get us from A to B as cheaply, safely and comfortably as possible. Design also plays a major role, attracting people to a certain model based on tastes and feelings alone.
For manufacturers, this has long created a dilemma. Since the first assembly-line Fords rolled off the factory floor almost a century ago, mass production has meant that vehicles can be produced cheaply enough so that nearly everyone in the developed world can now afford one. However, customers also want more customisation options, from different shades of colours down to engine configurations and internal finishes.
The researchers behind the EU-funded CATER project believe they have developed a better way to efficiently present customisation options to customers and help them decide, overcoming the constraints of dealers’ catalogues and the often bland vehicle configuration systems on automakers’ websites.
“By giving people the chance to immerse themselves in the car in 3D virtual reality (VR), they can better understand what the options are, how they look and will feel more confident about making a purchase,” explains Manfred Dangelmaier, the coordinator of the CATER project at Fraunhofer IAO in Germany.
Immerse yourself in your future car
- Grand Visions at the Geneva Auto Show (businessweek.com)