In a bold move that marries the nascent virtual reality phenomenon with the traditional auto showroom at a car dealership, an online used car dealer is launching a virtual reality showroom in an effort to remotely bring you closer to your dream wheels.
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Vroom readies VR technology in an auto first
The way we buy a used car is being turned on its head because of smartphones and the Internet. In what’s an auto industry first, Vroom is readying its Virtual Reality Showroom to offer consumers yet another entirely new way to take the pain out of buying a car.
Over the coming month, Vroom will open the virtual showrooms at its Texas offices in Grand Prairie and Houston and in mall pop-up stores in Austin and Phoenix. Up first is the Phoenix pop-up stop at Fashion Square Mall in Scottsdale, AZ on August 12.
How does this crazy idea work? Customers will put on VR headsets that will be provided and then ‘walk’ into a virtual showroom, according to Fortune. By using their eyes to focus on a particular spot, they can take a closer look at 15 different car models that cost $25,000 to $60,000.
The illusion of looking into a car’s interior will be created by stitching together 2D photographs to create a 3D model of the inside.
Another neat feature? Test drives!
Using prerecorded engine sounds and 360-degree video of someone actually driving the car superimposed on the windows, Vroom is able to approximate a real test drive — minus the road bumps and the ability to steer or park.
‘Hop in a Corvette and hit the road. Or experience the thrill of a Dodge Charger Hellcat roaring to life. Or do both, all in just seconds,’ a company blog enthuses. ‘In the Vroom Virtual Showroom, the possibilities are virtually endless. Pun intended.’
The good news is a home-based version of the virtual showrooms are expected to be launched by the end of the year. You’ll simply need Google Cardboard or a Samsung Gear VR device to access them.
Online startups pushing the envelope on car buying
The new reality of the car business is that millennials will not go to a traditional car dealership. It’s a business model they just hate. So even GM has caught wind of this and has launched an online car buying portal called FactoryPreOwnedCollection.com. They have 30,000 vehicles available for sale online. All of them have less than 37,000 miles, which is a real sweet spot in the auto market. Every car will come with an extended factory warranty.
Carvana is really the grandfather of all disruptive online used car sellers. They offer a seven-day money-back guarantee — no questions asked.
The whole idea is to make buying a used car and selling one ultra easy.
Carvana made headlines recently when they unveiled a giant coin-operated vending machine in Nashville that lets you take delivery of your new ride after you buy online. The company plans to roll out similar vending machine in other cities across the country.
Meanwhile, there’s a startup on the West Coast called Beepi that is worth a look too. For private sellers, Beepi will check your ride out and makes sure it’s OK. Then they arrange for a buyer to get the vehicle. Beepi backs the whole thing, and if your car doesn’t sell, they will buy it from you. The company now operates in Washington, California, Arizona, Texas and Florida.
Then there’s also Shift. When you have a car you want to sell, you contact them and Shift sends over a car expert to check it out, come up with a value, handle all the paperwork and sell it on your behalf. They guarantee you a minimum price; if you get more than that, you split it with them.
So the car industry is really changing and the pace of change will only accelerate over the coming months and years!