October 7, 2014 — Lexus has built a virtual test drive simulator that will be in place at upcoming auto shows and customer events over the next several months, beginning with the Orange County International Auto Show, which was held last week.
In March, we wrote a piece called The Coming Changes to Automotive Retail, in which we predicted the industry would see virtual test drive applications from companies such as Oculus VR, that develop virtual reality games. And now it’s happening.
The simulator is for one vehicle now — the Lexus RC F Sports Coupe which will be in showrooms early 2015. Lexus engineers built the simulator using in eight weeks using actual RC F components, such as the steering wheel, the seat and pedals.
The virtual reality technology is the Oculus Rift DK 2 system, which is used by advanced gamers. Users of the simulator can experience driving the sports Click here to see a video of the simulator in action: Lexus RC F Oculus Driving Simulator.
Attendees at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in August saw an early beta version of the simulator. It’s going to be at various auto shows including Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Detroit over the next few months.
This is the first application and It’s obviously too soon to know whether the technology will find its way into dealership showrooms, but the application makes sense for boutique-style showrooms such as Lexus’ Intersect by Lexus chain. The third Intersect is opening next year in New York’s meat packing district and will create a cafe bistro-type environment that sells products other than vehicles that promote a chic lifestyle.
We’re just imagining right now, but is it out of the question to see virtual reality simulators become a common part of the car shopping process in a few years? Hey, ELead showed off a virtual hologram representative for dealership showrooms at the NADA convention last year.
By the way, for all you non-gamers, Oculus was acquired in July by Facebook in July for more than $2 billion.