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Technology for consumers is getting more advanced and more interesting as the years go by. Although automobiles are one of the top three pieces of machinery people use today, the automotive industry is slow to catch up. Just look at the J.D. Power Tech Study about smartphone integration and mirroring. The next big thing is virtual reality, allowing people to sit inside of their own car before even purchasing it. Well, that’s what automakers like Jeep and now Mitsubishi Motors are doing. Starting with automotive dealerships in Canada, Mitsubishi Motors, North America is testing out a new augmented reality app for explaining features of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV to consumers.
The new app comes from North York, Ont.-based St. Joseph Communications. Designed specifically to help salespeople explain to customers the technology of the 2018 Outlander plug-in hybrid electric utility vehicle, the app has been made easy to use. Just point the device (in this case a tablet) at a visible part of the Outlander PHEV, say a decal perhaps, and once located, the app will display the vehicle on screen from all sides. Consumers will be able to do a virtual walk around of the vehicle to view it from different positions via hyper-accurate tracking and registration coding techniques with tracking markers.
Why was this app designed specifically for Canada? Our neighbors of the north are actually pretty forward thinking, and are interested in the fuel efficiency of hybrid technology, but don’t quite understand it. The salespeople have trouble as well; a federal survey of national car salespeople found that large a percentage of sales people don’t understand electric vehicles and/or hybrids, which makes selling them even more difficult.
“Up until now the salesman had to verbally explain to the customer how the system works, and for somebody who is maybe not as knowledgeable about technological things, it may be difficult to grasp the explanation…[Now] the consumer can actually see a kind of virtual reality almost of what’s going on with the vehicle…It gives them a better understanding.” – Don Ulmer, Mitsubishi Motors Sales of Canada senior manager of product planning.
With this new app, salespeople can easily explain features of the Outlander plug-in by highlighting features on-screen. For instance, if highlighting the center console, there’s a selector for three driving settings for the Outlander PHEV - EV, Series Hybrid, and Parallel Hybrid. With the app, a salesperson can explain that a consumer can choose “EV” to drive off of the electric motor only, “Series Hybrid” to use the gasoline engine in tandem with the electric motor, or “Parallel Hybrid” if they wish to mostly use the gasoline engine with the electric motor assisting. One can also explain regenerative braking and how it helps to replenish energy expended from the electric motor via the engine.
There has already been talk of expanding this technology to the rest of North America depending on how things go in Canada. We’re not quite sure if testing augmented reality in a country that doesn’t understand hybrids is the smartest move, but there’s no way aboot it. Mitsubishi Motors has entered the virtual reality game.
What do you think of using augmented reality to sell and explain vehicle features? Let us know your thoughts on NowCar social media.