VW America: A car configurator inspired by dating platforms

Unlike in Germany, made-to-order cars individually manufactured to customers’ specifications are yet to catch on in the US. While Volkswagen customers in America are already able to configure their new car online, the final choice actually depends on which models their dealer has in stock. As such, this “best-match principle” during configuration limits the customer’s freedom of choice to the vehicles available from their dealer. In addition, buyers need to be familiar with the VW product catalog to be able to find a car that matches their wishes as closely as possible.

A new buying experience: Goodbye product catalog!

Now, Volkswagen of America has launched a brand new configurator website that totally transforms the experience of buying a car, even at the early decision-making stage. At vw.com, customers can now enter their preferred parameters just as easily and precisely as they would on a dating platform. What’s more, the available configuration options are no longer limited by the stock of the customer’s VW dealer, but include stock from other dealers as needed. For the very first time in the US automobile market, customers can now see a virtual rendering of their fully configured “perfect car” on the website before they visit the dealer.

This new buying experience is made possible by an innovative “matchmaking” solution developed in close cooperation between Mackevision and the Deutsch agency. It means prospective buyers now no longer need to describe each vehicle feature separately. Instead, they start by selecting a vehicle group – such as limousines, cabrios or a specific price segment – in the new configurator, before gradually refining their selection step by step.

For instance, a customer could simply search for all blue models with a satnav and sunroof for under $250 per month, or for all cars costing less than $20,000. Until now, searches of this kind have not been possible in the US market. For each vehicle, 88 configurable representations can be displayed, each of which can be combined with 18 different backgrounds and a variety of interior and exterior views, making for more than ten million possible image combinations in all.

Better efficiency thanks to seamless sales integration

The configurator solution that determines which virtual vehicle models are generated is based on proprietary products from Mackevision. The specifications chosen in the configurator are packed and stored in rendering scripts which form the logical basis for visualizing the vehicle models, each generated from multiple detail layers. Finally, another component in the package – the Picture Shooter – adds striking background images. Photorealistic 3D representations of this kind can also be readily used for marketing and sales purposes with no need for in-depth image processing skills or additional software.

Right from the start, Mackevision and Deutsch made sure to integrate the solution as closely as possible into all relevant sales and marketing processes. They applied this approach consistently across all processes – from defining new models and generating marketing plans to entering delivery details into the configuration database. Once the user has finished configuring the vehicle, there is a final quality assurance process before the digital model makes its way into Volkswagen of America’s virtual showroom.

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