Clambering to keep up with the technology laden Generation Y, Toyota, partnered with Google, has unveiled an entirely virtual showroom.
Ironically advertised as a more social way to buy cars, the showroom can be accessed from a Google+ hangout, which then allows up to five people to pick features: “ like wheels and sunroof, or colors for the exterior and the interior of the car.” If the user likes what he or she sees, they can even take the fake car on a fake test drive against a fake backdrop of their choosing. Acknowledging that millennials: “think about cars in a dramatically different way”, this radically new sales interface shows Toyota might be flexible in adjusting the time honored and profit maximizing face to face standard.
Announced at South By Southwest, the venue certainly suggests that the automakers are aware of an imminent threat posed by younger consumers, who buy virtually everything from the Internet. Well, almost everything.
Very few people from any generation enjoy going through the hassle of buying a car from the lot, as haggling, stressful paperwork and waiting around are inevitable. But if these timeless headaches mildly annoyed older generations, there are strong signs that Generation Y is prepared to dig a kind of nuclear option and forego the automotive experience altogether. The percentage of seventeen year olds with licenses is half of what it was in 1983, and there’s no sign of that gap closing.
Sometimes referred to by industry insiders as Generation N (N meaning ‘neutral about buying cars’), this Toyota virtual showroom is a genuine attempt to entice a young millennial demographic that just hasn’t been buying what they’ve been selling.