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8/20/2009
08:22 AM
Bob Evans
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Mercedes, Honda Open Virtual Showrooms; VIDEO

Dassault Systemes has begun marketing virtual showroom simulators to car makers and Honda and Mercedes-Benz have signed "large deals" for the systems in Australia and China. Car shoppers can get 360-degree views of the vehicles, open doors to view interiors, change features, and change colors via the 10-feet-wide screen. Click ahead to see a video demo.

Dassault Systemes has begun marketing virtual showroom simulators to car makers and Honda and Mercedes-Benz have signed "large deals" for the systems in Australia and China. Car shoppers can get 360-degree views of the vehicles, open doors to view interiors, change features, and change colors via the 10-feet-wide screen. Click ahead to see a video demo.In addition to the Mercedes and Honda deals in China and Australia, Dassault is also "in talks with all the major two-wheeler and four-wheeler makers in India for implementing the same," said Dassault India president Andy Kalambi in an interview with BusinessStandard.com.

Kalambi said auto makers are looking for innovative ways to engage with potential buyers during the global economic slowdown, which has forced car companies around the world to reduce their dealer networks and tighten inventories. Dassault believes its showroom simulator will help the car companies and their dealers achieve those objectives while also offering shoppers a dynamic and different experience loaded with high-tech touches.

On Dassault's blog, called 3D Perspectives, an enthusiastic blogger offers this description and video tour of the simulator, which was on display at a trade show:

R-Screen is a first-of-a-kind VR application allowing consumers to visit a car virtually, showroom style. What I mean is, rather than being in a VR cave or in front of a large, static immersive screen, you must physically walk around the virtual car to see it.

In addition to being a pretty wild gadget, the simulator also offers these advantages for car companies and their dealers, the blogger says:

Demo mobility concepts at shows without production. This provides OEMs an opportunity to save resources. • Showcase several cars in one spot. A different car, a different audience/day, same show floor real estate. • Try and buy new models before they're in circulation. Want to get a feel for that new Renault model not yet available at the dealership near you? R-Screen lets you do this. • Test personalization options and features. You think you'll like the model in red with an integrated GPS system? Well you may not once you pick up your new car. You can try on all kinds of options virtually before purchasing.

While the video offers a sense of the virtual car-shopping experience, the video itself left me a bit underwhelmed. But the potential business benefits listed above, along with the high potential for an engaging customer experience, make this a new idea that CIOs might want to evaluate.

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