No vehicle? Nissan stores test virtual display
At Jeff Rosen's Rosen Nissan store in Milwaukee, customers have been climbing through the redesigned 2013 Pathfinder lately even though the vehicle isn't there yet.
Rosen is one of 16 retailers to test-pilot a "virtual showroom" system that Nissan hopes will let dealers tap into early consumer interest in upcoming vehicles.
The concept is an interactive 3-D display technology called Nissan Kinect that lets showroom visitors see a full-sized image of the vehicle, inside and out, reach into it and open its doors, climb into the car, adjust the seats and work the controls.
It uses a Kinect motion-detection device, like the one found in a Microsoft Xbox 360 gaming console. The device captures the movements of a participating shopper and processes them through a proprietary software program and computer tower supplied by Nissan.
The shopper's real-time hand and body motions are combined with proprietary images of the future vehicle and broadcast over a 55-inch high-definition TV monitor in the showroom.
"We like this a lot," Rosen reports of the sales tool. "Frankly, I thought it was going to be something that kids wanted to play with.
"I'm surprised by the customers waiting to use it. Even for our salespeople, it's proving to be a good tool. They've been demonstrating the Pathfinder to people."
The Pathfinder will reach showrooms in late October. Scot Cottick, Nissan senior manager for interactive marketing, says his team is analyzing dealer feedback. If reports are positive, Nissan wants to expand Nissan Kinect to other stores in anticipation of introducing a redesigned Sentra, Versa hatchback and Rogue crossover next year.
But each window of opportunity is short. Once the real vehicle arrives, shoppers no longer need to look at a virtual version of it.
"The attraction for dealers is that this lets them do a sneak peek," Cottick says. "Customers hear about a product, and now they can see it early. The dealer can capitalize on that early buzz."
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