During one of my business trip to London, I caught a glimpse of the future of car dealerships. I came across Audi Digital Showroom, which has “Product Specialists” instead of salespeople, and an impressive live interactive app: In the showroom, a prospect can feel and touch the variety of Audi cars on display. If the prospect is interested in the model or trim package that are not showcased at this time, he can visit the high-tech large-touch-screen-enabled console just in front of a digital wall.
A buyer can select the model he is interested in and configure the trim of the car while a product specialist stands by, ready to answer additional questions he may have. Once the car is configured, he can “drag” his creation into the digital wall and, magically, a life-size representation of the car of their dreams is created. He can explore more of the car features and trim by manipulating the perspectives of the almost-live-size image of the car on the digital wall. The impressive detail image is generated using the same exact modeling data that the designers and engineers use in Ingolstadt. Additionally, he can open the car's doors, enter the car to examine the interior, and listen to the simulated engine noise based on his engine selection.
On one of my business trips to Germany, I attended one of the largest global trade shows: Embedded World. It was held in Nuremberg, Germany. High tech companies from around the world were showing off their latest innovations. At this year show, Intelligent and Connected Car technologies seemed to be what everyone was into. Fully configurable LCD/LED intelligent dashboards, autonomous driving technologies, passive safety features such as lane departure, thermal imaging night vision, and adaptive cruise control, car-to-car and car-to-traffic infrastructure communication, embedded system for hybrid and flexible fuel, and electric vehicle technologies were just a few samples of technologies displayed in several football-field size exhibition halls.
Success in the auto industry is no longer determined by only the horsepower of an engine, or how many cup holders it has. Buyers today ask different questions. How many miles to the gallon? Does it have an eco-friendly mode? Is it electric? Does it have Bluetooth? Can I stream Internet radio? How does the GPS work with traffic conditions? Are the headlights LED? In other words, technology, and specifically software is driving buying habits of car shoppers.