Visit www.bhpetrol.com.my to find out more about promotions at BHPetromart. Before the COVID-19 pandemic made lockdowns a part of life, some car companies were exploring retail activities online. They had their websites and as customers’ needs changed, they provided the necessary features and functions on their website to meet those needs. Then came the lockdowns and suddenly, customers could not visit showrooms so the online ‘business’ accelerated. ‘Contactless’ interactions were promoted, and unless absolutely necessary, the customer didn’t have to be at the showroom.
While a lot of information can be presented online, the one thing that is important to some customers is the test-drive. For this, they have to go to the showroom or as many companies are doing now, the salesman can bring the vehicle over. In spite of advanced simulators available that even make e-racing possible, it seems that this is something that the auto industry has still to provide.
First in the world
Nevertheless, Abarth (part of the new Stellantis Group) Abarth is first car brand in the world to offer ‘test drives’ from the comfort and safety of a customer’s home. They can experience a ‘test drive’ in the new limited edition Abarth 595 Scorpioneoro, a limited edition model with only 2,000 units available globally.
The ‘test drive’ takes place on iconic driving roads in North Wales, hand-picked by Abarthisti as some of the best driving roads in the UK. While nothing will ever compare with test driving an actual car in the real world, the VR ‘test drive’ provides customers and their families a fully immersive alternative.
Undergoing trial in England first
For now, the virtual test-drive is undergoing a trial with one Abarth dealership in the UK offering it. If this initial trial, which began yesterday, proves successful, it could be rolled out to additional retailers across the UK.
During the trial period, an expert representative from the dealership will deliver an Abarth crate to the front door of the customer (taking into account all government SOPs). Inside the crate will be the VR headset pre-loaded with the ‘test drive’ footage and a pair of Bose headphones to ensure customers can fully experience the famous growl of the Abarth exhaust. Abarth-branded items including a Bluetooth speaker and baseball cap are also included. In addition, a brochure is included providing drivers with all the detail they need on the Abarth range.
Guidance by automotive influencer
When ‘drivers’ put the headset on they will be greeted by Abarth owner and automotive influencer, Stef Villaverde, who will host and guide them on the virtual experience. Stef will give customers all of the key product information about the car before taking them on a ‘drive’ of some of the UK’s best driving roads.
The VR experience transports viewers ‘seated’ in the Italian sportscar instantly to the sweeping bends of the Great Orme, the lakeside vista of Llyn Ogwen and off-road adventures on Black Rock Sands. These roads were specifically chosen by Abarth’s online community of owners who deemed North Wales to be the prime spot to experience an Abarth.
With the uncertainty around ever-changing restrictions, business closures and other measures to combat the pandemic, the VR experience gives customers the opportunity to enjoy the thrill of ‘driving‘ an Abarth while staying in the comfort and safety of their home.
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