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Customize your ride: car shopping in the future

By Evan Wade / August 15, 2013


When it comes time to purchase your next car, you’re likely to lean on modern technology more than a smooth-talking salesperson. From scanning information-filled QR codes with your smartphone to self-guided Google Glass tours, the days of taking the dealer’s word for it are over. In the future of car shopping, the informed consumer is king.

Browsing in your bunny slippers

Online shopping has made purchasing items in your PJs as commonplace as doing Skype interviews in a suit coat and cargo shorts. Thanks to websites like CarMax and AutoTrader.com, customers can peruse virtual car lots with the ease of searching Amazon. But pre-existing vehicles aren’t the only options at our fingertips.

Ford’s Mustang Customizer and corresponding iPad app give interested buyers the chance to build the car of their dreams (as long as it’s a Mustang). Once the user chooses their ideal body type, they’re prompted to pick everything from the exterior color to the metal of the door handle. You can even add tire smoke and doughnuts to your final picture to give your muscle car a real racing feel.

As the website states, “The Mustang Customizer is for inspiration purposes only.” Although users can’t buy the ideal Mustang from their tablet just yet, they could be inspired to print out their realistic rendering and head to the dealership for a test drive.

Glass integration

As an interactive user manual, Glass could make everything from properly inflating tires to changing your oil a whole lot easier. With Glass’ video-capturing capabilities, dealerships and mechanics could live stream do-it-yourself instructions to a driver’s garage or to the web for the world to see.

When paired with apps like Automatic (aka “the FitBit for your car”), Glass helps drivers maximize fuel efficiency and safety by keeping their drive stats and vehicle diagnostics in the corner of their eye. Car manufacturers would be wise to offer similar Glass integrations in their newest automobiles.

And as an augmented reality sales tool, dealerships can revolutionize the showroom by providing Glass wearers with specialized information pertaining to the cars and objects in their field of vision, rather than making them thumb through a two-dimensional pamphlet.

Where we’re going

Whatever happens in the world of tech, it’s safe to assume the way you buy and care for your car in the future will be quite different from the way you do it today. Just make sure you want that electric-mango paint job before you click the finalize button. Repainting a car will still be pretty expensive in the future.