Two cars for two realities: Metaverse becomes new market for mobility

Everyone is talking about it, waiting for it – but what does the Metaverse offer the world of mobility? The IAA Mobility Visionary Club is examining this question, because development, production, and quality assurance would not be the only things to benefit from in the future – a new market forms in the three-dimensional, digital world.

800 billion US dollars by 2024: This is the economic potential Bloomberg Intelligence predicts for the Metaverse1  – and all for something that, strictly speaking, does not exist yet. Because the digital world in which we will completely immerse ourselves through our avatars, attend concerts, meet friends, go shopping, and come together with technology like virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence, or the Internet of Things, is still in its infancy. Even though specific technologies like VR can provide a glimpse, we “are currently seeing the very beginnings of this technological shift,” says Bastian Raschke in the IAA Mobility Visionary Club. He is Director Automotive, Mobility and Travel DACH at Meta – merely the name of the company once known as Facebook hints at the importance afforded to the Metaverse in the digital community. “We believe that the Metaverse has the potential to be the successor to the mobile Internet.”

The next industrial revolution?

A successor that could benefit the automotive industry. The technology could make it possible to virtually predict problems along the value-added chain via realistic simulations, so that they can be rooted out in the physical world, explains Kathrin Pannier, Partner at Boston Consulting Group. “This means a fundamental change in how we develop, build, and ultimately sell cars.” Tom Westendorp, in charge of Business Development Automotive Enterprise Europe at NVIDIA, even predicts the Metaverse will be “the next big industrial revolution”.

Forerunners of the future

If the Metaverse in its entirety just sounds like pie in the sky, note that there are some opportunities for use in today’s industry. Take the factory of the future, for example: NVIDIA has created digital duplicates of factories for the BMW Group. With six million square metres of virtual space, the manufacturer can simulate and optimise changes to processes before implementing them in the real world, says Westendorp. The advantages of this process are obvious: more efficiency, fewer errors, higher production rates.

In terms of development and design, too, forerunners of the future have at last arrived in the form of virtual prototypes. In the future, testing could be completely migrated over to the virtual test course, explains Florian Albert, Co-Founder & Business Operations at AVES Reality. The company works to depict the real world in a virtual space. This would make it possible to simulate test drives quickly and under all conceivable conditions, with full adherence to the laws of reality. “The Metaverse will also bring this cooperation to a new level,” says Albert – starting with virtual visits to distant factories, to using a consolidated database within a company. This would also resolve past communication issues between departments.

A new market

But the Metaverse is also expected to revolutionise the brand experience. “The real added value lies in the sense of presence between people, and between people and brands,” says Bastian Raschke. In the Metaverse cars can be experienced anew and tested before purchase. It will be crucial for manufacturers to determine how they will position and sell their brands and products in tomorrow’s digital world – and not just their physical products, but their virtual ones as well. Because once the Metaverse is fully developed, humans will live in two realities, predicts Gesina Schwengers, Director Digital Products and eCommerce Mercedes-Benz AG, in the IAA Visionary Club. “And, of course, people want to own their products in both worlds.”  In addition to purchasing a Mercedes in the physical world, one also buys the virtual model for driving through the Metaverse. This example shows the potential of the virtual market: It will not only revolutionise the customer journey, i.e., interaction with a brand and the path the customer takes to purchase a car, but also open up sales opportunities for new products. Manufacturers would have to offer customers of the future true added value so that the desire for a virtual car does not one day replace that for a physical vehicle, says Kathrin Pannier: If many trips or journeys are taken exclusively in the virtual world, “this puts demand on OEMs to create even better experiences that make driving in a physical car appealing.”

“The only limit is our imagination”

So there are all sorts of opportunities – but there are challenges, too. It begs the question: When will the Metaverse kick off? And how do you become a part of it? “It will take not months, but years for the full experience to become a reality,” says Raschke. The right hardware with the suitable capacities and convenient portability is yet to be found. However, thanks to some initial applications, companies can start exploring and adapting to the Metaverse today. What exactly awaits us in the Metaverse of the future? Nobody can say for certain, says Raschke. “Because there are no more boundaries. The only limit is our imagination.”


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