Toyota experiments with augmented reality in car showrooms

Automotive manufacturer Toyota GB is embracing consumer technology by using augmented reality (AR) for the first time in its showrooms across the UK.

Through a partnership with digital agency Brandwidth, the car maker has devised a new iPad app which allows potential car buyers to ‘see inside’ its C-HR model across all grades and colours.

Dubbed Toyota Hybrid AR, the application also uses objective recognition software to overlay graphics of the inner workings of the Hybrid drivetrain – the mechanics that transmit power to the driving wheels of hybrids – on to physical vehicles. The idea is to help customers gain a better understanding of how the system works.

The decision to introduce the technology, which will also be used in shopping centres and at trade shows around the UK, is part of an ongoing drive by Toyota GB to help customers understand the finer details related to hybrid technology within its vehicles.

Via the app, customers can view different drive states of the vehicle, showing how the various elements of the drivetrain interact with each other. By tapping on a drive state, such as ‘deceleration’ or ‘heavy acceleration’, customers can see which parts of the hybrid system are in use and how energy is passed between them.

In addition, the app features several ‘hotspots’ which, when clicked on, enable customers to get in-depth information on key features of the system, such as the motor, battery and fuel tank.

Stephen Duval, from Toyota Centre Marketing Services and direct marketing manager at Toyota, said: “This innovative new AR experience, created in partnership with Brandwidth, brings the C-HR’s hybrid drivetrain to life in a simple yet highly engaging way.”

Chris Wicks, group account director at Brandwidth, said Toyota was “breaking new ground in the use of AR to enhance customer experience in the car showroom”.

The Toyota AR app arrives as car manufacturers continue to influence and change the shape of retail in the UK. Several car brands have introduced retail stores and showrooms in shopping centres for the first time over recent years, with the likes of Hyundai opening at Bluewater and Mitsubishi Motors arriving at Lakeside.

The new-style automotive retail stores in the UK tend to be weighted heavily towards using technology, such as touchscreen kiosks and digital signage, to provide customers with hands-on interactive experiences.