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Fun concept but i still want to test drive the R8.....Just in case I want to but one...
Customize And “Test-Drive” Your New Car in London’s Audi City
by +Kellya Clanzig, +EuroTech; France

Audi has opened its first experimental new showroom, achieving the impossible conciliation between compact spaces available in city centers and showing off the company’s almost unlimited colour and customisation options. To accomplish this feat, Audi City uses digital representation – saving space while allowing for real-time customisation in stores with an average area of just 450m2 – a third of a typical car salesroom.

The experience aims to be fun: The customer enters Audi City through a room furnished with giant screens that cover almost every wall space. Multi-touch tabletop screens allow to choose your perfect car, drilling down from the several hundred million possible configurations. Then it becomes even better, as your car is represented on an HD screen in front of you, a little avatar teaches you more about the vehicle and its engineering. The entire 3D model spins 360 degrees and is ‘driven’ through virtual landscapes.

The acoustic system ensures that the sound is individual to the selected car and that it is only audible to the specific customer. “We digitized all the engine sounds, as well as door opening/shutting for each Audi car, for an authentic experience,” explains Floris Dreesman, the Audi corporate architect in charge of the project.

In a private room away from the bustling crowds, more serious customers can configure their chosen vehicle using the multi-touch table, save the data on a USB stick, and then get the rest dealt with by a more traditional dealer further down the line. Each Audi City location will be paired with a brick-and-mortar dealership location, so test drives can easily be arranged. 

Audi City has been created by a team of architects, designers and engineers to showcase the company’s range outside of the traditional hard sales environment, introducing it into a more lively, high-tech arena. It’s a sort of Apple Store for cars, envisioned by Audi as a meeting place for fans of the brand, and as a privileged place to host events related to urban development, mobility, art, culture, and design, establishing the Audi cities as a dynamic addition to the neighborhood.

“We wanted to create a space that had no hierarchy, with no sales desks and with everyone on an eye-to-eye level,” notes Dreesman. “We need to get into a dialogue with the city, as it is here where future mobility will be decided.” Indeed, in the future, Audi City will also play a crucial role in the marketing of new mobility services and the electric-drive e-tron models. 

Over the next few years, Audi will secure more of these attractive locations, opening more than 20 stores worldwide by 2015. The London experiment will be followed by a larger one in Beijing, due to be completed by the end of the year.

Which one will be the first car manufacturer to move the whole buying experience, including the hard sale, to the Internet?

Tags: #ScienceEveryday
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