Automobile players are jumping on the Metaverse bandwagon with more and more car launches happening in the phygital world and according to the experts, it’s the convenience of providing real-life experiences in the comfort of their homes and the promise of an increased number of audiences which is drawing them to it.
Automobile players like Volvo, Morris Garages, Maruti Suzuki, and Hyundai, among others, have already tapped into the Metaverse to attract younger generations and get them into investing in NFTs, Web3 technology and cryptocurrency.
In the physical world, it is not possible for everybody from the intended target audiences to the brand aficionados to make it to the launch of every car, and even when they do some might not even get an opportunity to check everything out to their satisfaction. But with the Metaverse, this issue is resolved, and a sense of community building is instilled into the audience as there is no limit for the attendees, experts suggest.
According to Niraj Ruparel, Head of Mobile and Emerging Tech, GroupM, through launches in the Metaverse, automobile brands give users from all parts of the globe a chance to step into their world and experience their vehicles. “Test drives, assessing specs, viewing different colours and even ordering and purchasing will eventually be done in these immersive spaces,” he said.
Striking a similar tone, Amer Ahmad, Director of Technology, Blink Digital, stated, “The Metaverse allows consumers to experience products and brands in a far more immersive way than they would on other digital platforms, in some cases the real world as well.”
“A major advantage of the Metaverse is its vast capabilities to build tailored experiences, which is a significant advantage over traditional digital platforms,” he emphasised.
Rajat Ojha, CEO, Gamitronics and Chief Builder at Partynite.io, said, “If a car is launched on-ground in the physical world, there is a fair chance that it would have a limited audience. Also, if it was launched on YouTube, the viewers would have limited exposure to the specifications. With Metaverse launches, there is not only a higher chance of community building, but newer avenues for personalised customisations in terms of the upholstery, windscreen, lights and many more features of the car.”
However, Sukrit Singh, Co-Founder, XP&DLAND and Metaform, said that automobile companies aren’t doing justice to Web3.0, apart from the hype value creation. “The metaverse as most people imagine it is at least a thousand days away. The reason I say this, is that the 3D internet as we see it today is rather underwhelming. One needs to visit the Web3.0 experiences set up by some auto companies to experience the gap between promise and delivery,” he stated.
He went on to add, “The above would be a rather demotivating statement, however, the truth must be told. The metaverse is not a one-trick pony that can be turned on and off like a gimmick. The metaverse needs to be social, shared, perpetual and most of all built on community.”
Speaking on the feasibility of the automobile players launching their offerings and spaces in the Metaverse, GroupM’s Ruparel also pointed out that automobile players constantly face the need for a new and exciting space which is not going away any time soon, and thus launches in the Metaverse seems to be a viable and feasible option for car brands.
“The benefit of being there on the Metaverse is massive. In the long-term, there is potential for car brands, as customers could assess the new models in the Metaverse and test drive using VR technology,” he asserted.
Similarly, Blink Digital’s Ahmad also pointed out that automobile launches in the Metaverse will become a cornerstone for the sales team of the car brands. He said, “Brands can combine fantastical metaverse experiences with real-world gratifications. So, whether it's booking a vehicle after a metaverse test drive or an NFT that grants holders access to higher servicing tiers, the Phygital possibilities are endless and the Metaverse provides a wider user experience in ways that other digital platforms can't match.”
Singh from XP&DLAND also pointed out that while launching in the Metaverse today is a gimmick at best, it is not because of the concept of the Metaverse but the quality of execution that the platforms offer today.
“As Web3.0 develops, a new decentralised ecosystem will develop around the automotive world. Like what Uber did for public transport, the blockchain will revolutionise the way shared mobility will operate, perhaps through the NFTs we hold,” he added.
While Maruti Suzuki claims to have enabled the first car booking on their NexaVerse, Toyota, Morris Garage and Hyundai have launched their offices or showrooms to offer immersive experiences to their customers and stakeholders through their Metaverse. Similarly, Volvo and Nissan have resorted to the phygital world to launch their electric vehicles.
In the luxury segment, Ferrari has also focussed on virtual reality, gaming, NFTs and Blockchain technology and has created a division to capitalise on the opportunities created in the virtual. Mercedes-Benz has collaborated with international crypto artist collective, Art2People, to launch their G-Class in the Metaverse. Additionally, Lamborghini has also launched its NFT project- Space Time Memory, a series of five NFT photographs of Lamborghini Ultimae that depict the car flying towards the stars.
The automobile players are resorting to these ventures to ride on the Metaverse bandwagon and attract the youth.
There are, however, some challenges too which the automobile brands face during phygital launches, be it accessibility, picture quality, user experience or limited infrastructure.
As per GroupM’s Ruparel, the biggest challenge for the Metaverse launches of automobile players as of now is accessibility. “Most of the big metaverses aren’t user-friendly for the most part, current users are generally deep into the Web3 space already. So, it is key for brands to think about how to make their immersive space accessible to the people they want to reach,” he said.
He added that sourcing the skills required for building and optimising an immersive space has its own difficulties.
Furthermore, the biggest challenge for automobile players is providing real-world capabilities for the user experience in the phygital world, as per Blink Digital’s Ahmad. He also pointed out that at the moment, infrastructure is also a major weakness for the automobile players as high-speed internet and hi-spec devices are only available to a subset of the overall population.
According to PartyNite’s Ojha, the picture quality is one of the top challenges that automobile players face. “If the picture quality isn’t perfect on the audience’s devices, then the brands can miss out on the very purpose of the phygital world, which is to provide a real-life-like experience of the product through technology in the Metaverse.”
On a concluding note, XP&DLAND’s Singh asserted that automobile companies are still in the Netscape navigator era of Web 3.0 and that the time will soon come when the 3D internet will be able to do justice to car launches.