In the United States alone, over 100,000 businesses have permanently closed due to the pandemic, which has left millions of people unemployed and looking for work.
Nearly every industry has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the automotive industry. Mandatory stay-at-home and lockdown orders, concerns over employees’ safety in the workplace, and a decline in demand for new vehicles have created turbulent times for automotive manufacturers. In fact, it is estimated that there will be a 14-22% decline in automotive sales in the United States, Europe, and China this year as a result of the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated many markets, but others, including the automotive augmented reality market, have thrived during the coronavirus crisis.
What is the Forecast For the Automotive Augmented Reality Market?
In 2016, the augmented reality and virtual reality global market was valued at $6.1 billion. Just four years later, the augmented reality and virtual reality global market tripled, reaching $18.8 billion.
But augmented reality is still considered a relatively new technology, so experts believe that the market as a whole will continue to grow even more as a larger number of companies begin to embrace it.
Much of the growth in the global augmented reality market has been driven by the automotive industry, so it’s not surprising that this segment of the market is also expected to grow in the years ahead. Experts predict that the global automotive augmented reality market will reach $9 billion by the year 2025, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 30%.
Opportunities For the Automotive Augmented Reality Market During the COVID-19 Crisis
These predictions show that the automotive augmented reality market is expected to continue to grow despite the challenges faced by the automotive industry due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is because the COVID-19 pandemic has actually created a number of new opportunities for the automotive augmented reality market.
Here are some of the many ways that automotive manufacturers should use augmented reality technology during this unprecedented global crisis:
Improving the Buying Experience for Consumers
Many consumers are hesitant to visit automotive dealerships in person due to the risk of contracting COVID-19. As a result, automotive manufacturers must use augmented reality technology to provide a safer buying experience for consumers.
Thanks to augmented reality technology, consumers will no longer need to visit a dealership to shop for a new vehicle. Instead, they can complete every step of the car buying process from the comfort of their home.
Using augmented reality, consumers can project images of vehicles onto their surroundings. This allows them to inspect and explore a virtual vehicle in the same way that they would inspect and explore a vehicle in a dealership showroom. The technology is so advanced that consumers can even open the car door and peek inside to check out the interior.
This experience won’t be limited to consumers with augmented reality headsets. Dealerships can incorporate augmented reality elements on their website to give prospective buyers the chance to take a virtual tour of any vehicle in their inventory. Basically, this technology gives dealerships the power to create virtual showrooms so they can reach social distancing consumers.
Now, consumers can compare, contrast, and research different vehicles without ever stepping foot into a dealership. Once they are ready to make a purchase, they can contact the dealership to complete the transaction.
Increasing Focus on Safety Features
As more people were ordered to shelter in place or stay at home, the number of vehicles on the roads in the U.S. drastically decreased. Many people initially believed that the roads were safer since there was less traffic, but that turned out not to be the case.
In May, the National Safety Council released a report that revealed that the average number of miles driven in March 2020 decreased by 18% compared to March 2019. Despite this decrease in miles driven, the number of motor vehicle fatalities per mile driven increased by 14%. In other words, people in the U.S. weren’t driving as much, but they were still getting into fatal accidents at a much higher rate.
This does not mean that traffic fatalities increased by 14%, but rather traffic fatalities per mile driven. But some states, such as Minnesota and Louisiana, recorded an increase in the total number of traffic fatalities during the coronavirus crisis. This means there were more traffic fatalities in these states even though there were fewer people on the roads.
These shocking statistics have led to an increased focus on driver safety, which creates an opportunity for automotive manufacturers to use augmented reality technology. Automotive manufacturers can appeal to consumers who prioritize driving safety by offering vehicles with a wide range of safety features supported by augmented reality technology.
This may include a head-up display that projects crucial information onto the driver’s windshield so they never need to take their eyes off of the road while behind the wheel. For example, the head-up display may provide them with navigational directions, pedestrian detection, collision detection, road hazard warnings, and more.
The coronavirus pandemic has led many consumers to prioritize their safety, health, and wellness. Because of this, now is the perfect time for automotive manufacturers to utilize augmented reality to create a safer driving experience for their consumers.
Creating An Opportunity For Virtual Maintenance Assistance
Some consumers may put off taking their vehicles into dealerships or auto repair shops for maintenance during the COVID-19 crisis in order to avoid potential exposure. However, putting off routine maintenance of a vehicle could lead to bigger issues and more costly repairs in the future. Fortunately, there is a way for automotive companies to help consumers who want to care for their vehicles without risking their health.
Some industry experts suggest that augmented reality technology can be used to provide maintenance assistance to consumers who do not want to bring their vehicle in for maintenance or repairs due to health concerns.
For example, a consumer could wear an augmented reality headset that projects instructions on how to change their vehicle’s oil. Images, graphics, and other digital elements could be projected directly onto their vehicle to guide them through each step in the process. This would give consumers the opportunity to perform simple, routine maintenance tasks at home until they feel comfortable enough to visit an auto repair shop or dealership in person.
Consumers may even be able to use augmented reality headsets to get help from an experienced mechanic. The headset could connect to the mechanic’s headset, allowing them to see what’s in front of the consumer. This connectivity could help mechanics remotely and safely identify issues and guide consumers through the process of making simple repairs.
Allowing Manufacturers to Conduct Virtual Training Sessions
Many companies—inside and outside of the automotive industry—have used augmented reality technology to assist with employee training. But now, the opportunity to use augmented reality technology for training purposes is greater than ever before due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Many employees of automotive companies will have no other choice but to work from home until the health crisis is over. These employees may be new to remote work, which means they may need additional training to help them adjust to this major change in their work environment. Augmented reality technology can help during this difficult transition period.
For example, employees can use augmented reality headsets to project the text from a certain handbook or manual onto their environment. This way, they won’t have to bring stacks of manuals and books home with them in order to perform their job duties. Instead, they can access the text using their augmented reality headsets.
Augmented reality headsets can also help these employees set up the devices they need to safely and securely work remotely. The headset can project instructions on setting up company-owned devices and equipment to make the process as simple as possible.
Augmented reality could also be used to train workers on new production processes. The coronavirus pandemic could potentially disrupt the automotive supply chain. For this reason, experts have warned automotive manufacturers to be prepared to change the design of a vehicle or the materials used in its construction.
If a manufacturer is forced to make either of these changes, the workers involved in the production process must be retrained. Automotive manufacturers who find themselves in this unenviable situation can rely on augmented reality headsets to quickly and efficiently update and train their workers on these changes.
Enabling Collaboration For Remote Workers
A growing number of automotive employees may be working remotely, but this doesn’t mean they are working completely independently. Collaboration plays an important role in the automotive industry, but it can be a challenge for remote workers. However, augmented reality technology can enable collaboration for automotive workers, especially those who work in automotive design.
Automotive design teams can use augmented reality technology to collaborate on the design of new prototypes. This technology gives designers the opportunity to inspect, interact with, and make changes to a virtual prototype when working remotely. This can help automotive designers perform their job duties—and meet tight production deadlines—even when working remotely.
At least one automotive manufacturer, Ford, already uses augmented reality headsets to create virtual prototypes during the design process. Now, other automotive manufacturers may need to follow Ford’s lead in order to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
Forecasts for many markets are bleak as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, that’s not the case for the automotive augmented reality market. Despite the global health and economic crisis, the automotive augmented reality market will continue to experience tremendous growth in the years ahead.