As brands are exploring their prospects in the virtual world, automobile companies are also leveraging the Metaverse for providing consumers immersive real life-like experiences through Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.
With the aim to join the ‘phygital’ bandwagon of making an entry in the Metaverse, Maruti Suzuki India is going to spend a significant amount from its annual innovation budget on its showroom in the ‘phygital’ world, as per the company’s Executive Director, Shashank Srivastava.
He further said that the company plans to spend 10-15% of its innovation budget on Metaverse showroom, which amounts to Rs 6-8 crore this year.
With the advent of the Metaverse, automobile brands like Morris Garage and Hyundai took it upon themselves to launch their offices or showrooms in the virtual world to attract the younger generations who are keen on investing in NFTs, Web3 technology and cryptocurrency.
“We had already showed a glimpse of Maruti’s Metaverse during our Brezza launch and the response was tremendous, but it was a third-party solution then. We have partnered with one of our own accelerated start-ups to build our own Metaverse,” said Srivastava.
Named NEXAVerse, Maruti rolled out its latest phygital offering along with its new SUV ‘Grand Vitara’ recently.
Commenting on what led to automobile brands launching their own spaces in Metaverse, Srivastava pointed out that with work-from-home becoming a dominant culture during the pandemic, the automobile industry had a hard time owing to their touch-and-feel concept. “As a result, the rise of AR, VR and Metaverse opened up doors to providing a more immersive experience to the consumer by facilitating a ‘gamified’ space which runs on interconnected blockchains which would mimic the real world,” he added.
According to Srivastava, the automobile giant’s Metaverse launch is going to be done in a two-phased manner. Elaborating the plans for each phase, he stated, “The first phase enables consumers to visit the showroom, experience new products and book cars online. The second phase would involve interaction with sales representatives, a virtual test drive and configuring cars as per individual’s needs among other things.”
“VR provides a highly immersive experience but it calls for an investment in hardware and is isolating as it cuts off the individual from the rest of the world while wearing a headset. But it is AR which provides a fine balance as it allows the users to digitally enhance what they perceive in the physical world in real-time and allows them to tap into a virtual world while still feeling present in this one by using their smartphone or any other device,” elaborated Srivastava.
Furthermore, Srivastava also added that Maruti will be leveraging AR for their website accompanied by VR for their showrooms as part of their Metaverse entry. “While the website would enable consumers to experience the new product from the comfort of their homes, the showrooms will allow them to experience the metaverse through VR headsets,” he stated.
With the automobile giant establishing its presence in the Metaverse, “even though the consumers would be missing out on the ‘joy of mobility’ through digitisation, the final deal closure would happen in the physical real,” he clarified. Also, what would act as a bridge between the ‘phygital’ and physical worlds would be the option to burn or redeem NFTs at the showrooms or service centres for certain unspecified benefits.