In an always-connected world, with people often multitasking across a stream of media (mobile, gaming consoles, the Internet, etc), dragging them away from their screens to undertake a test drive is a challenge for many automotive companies.
The internet has made the concept of comparison shopping something of a static process, with many relying on the views and reviews of others as opposed to settling themselves into the driver seat themselves.
Mitsubishi of North America is set to embrace this new mindset, rather than fighting against it, by enabling those interested in its new 2011 Outlander Sport to take part in the "world's first online test drive" over the Internet via its new ‘Live Drive’ website.
The vehicle has been fitted with remote drive technology and an onboard camera, which will enable users to lap a circuit of a specially prepared track - without leaving their computer. The campaign goes live on the 2nd November and will apparently enable 700 people per day to test drive the vehicle during the 10-day promotional period.
It’s certainly a clever premise; with a focus on innovative technology that takes the virtual test-drive beyond online games and augmented reality style presentations. However, there is still one major issue with virtual test drives, and that is the fact that it will never fully replicate the hands on experience of actually being behind the wheel.
Essentially the diving experience - which used to rely on the comfort and luxurious feel of sitting in a new car - becomes stripped back to hitting arrow keys on a keyboard, which in many ways under sells the need for an actual test drive.
That said Mitsubishi is positioning this as an awareness exercise and states that it will switch its attention to product-based advertising once the virtual test drive has finished.