Started as an experiment in Bengaluru, MG Motor aims to take the car-less showroom concept to other locations in the country, reports Samreen Ahmad.
The latest MG Motor showroom in Bengaluru, a digital one, looks nothing like the typical one. For one, it has no cars on display.
Instead, the car manufacturer has unveiled a digital studio, with what is termed visual immersive technology, to give potential customers a 360-degree tour of the vehicles.
Started as an experiment, the company aims to take this car-less showroom concept to other locations in the country.
"The purpose of setting up a car-less showroom is that typically in big cities, one cannot open big showrooms in busy neighbourhoods. Through this concept, the cost of operations goes down to one-fourth the cost of a normal car showroom, which is between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 25 lakh (a month)," said Rajeev Chaba, president and managing director, MG Motor India.
"This can revolutionalise retailing, as we can go to several touch-points closer to the customers at a much lower price."
Spread in a small area of 600 sq ft, much less than the size of a regular automobile showroom, the digital studio welcomes a customer with an artificial intelligence (AI)-based human recognition screen.
Once a customer enters, the screen captures his/her picture and asks some basic questions. Based on that data, it customises the potential buyer's profile, so that a salesman can communicate in a personalised way.
Next, you move to a navigator, connected to a nine ft visualiser. There are three variants of the tour that the visualiser provides, based on the time available with the customer -- five minutes, 10 minutes and 15 minutes of 3D tours.
By giving a 'Hello MG' voice command, one can activate the visualiser. Then, you get a 360-degree view of the exteriors, interiors and safety features, via touch screen or voice command.
The engagement tool provides a close experience in navigating through the car, without the car -- adjustment of seats, dimensions, opening and closing of the sunroof, switching on and off of lights, opening of boot space.
It also gives the option of scanning through the engine and innards, not possible in a physical vehicle.
The visualiser also assists a user to scan through the interactive iSmart screens, fitted in the company's flagship Hector models.
MG Motor has tied up with Mumbai-based start-up Eccentric Engine for its automotive visualisation platform.
"We believe the future of automotive sales is omnichannel. We look forward to partnering with MG Motor to visualise their products through more futuristic touch points," said Varun Shah, co-founder, Eccentric Engine.
Once a customer is done with the visual tour, he/she can opt to test-drive the car, available in the parking lot outside the showroom. Bookings can be done from the same place.
With competition intensifying in the utility vehicle segment, many are shifting gear and moving towards technology to attract buyers.
Hyundai Motor is providing an AI-based technology service called Blue Link, which provides an easy flow of critical information between user and car.
This technology has an inbuilt SIM card and a 24x7 call centre that has features like live tracking, crash and panic alert. It also has a remote engine start feature, limited to automatic variants.
General Motors is also looking at embedding Google technology in its cars to enable voice activated controls, starting 2021. Amazon is in talks with car companies to embed its voice enabled technology, Alexa, in vehicles.