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Frankfurt, IAA, 13 September 2017

The intuitive "Carfinder"

Here's how Volkswagen customers find their dream car

The sun setting over the ocean, cyclists riding through the city, a father hugging his daughter – Volkswagen is showing these and similar video sequences to its customers at the IAA. The viewing is followed by a list of three vehicles that fit the customer's profile. Welcome to the showroom of the future with the intuitive Carfinder which makes its debut in Frankfurt.

The video sequences are based on virtual reality and artificial intelligence. The greeting is done by Optimus Prime, one of the main characters from the "Transformers" sci-fi movie. Actually, to be more precise, it's his German voice. German moviegoers will recognize it from the big screen. Here in the intuitive Carfinder, though, the movie is shown on a special headset with integrated display and a device to measure brainwaves.

Ready? Ready! The movie lasts 90 seconds. With the help of the analysis the visitor then finds out which Volkswagen would be his perfect car: Arteon, e-Golf1, Polo, T-Roc, Tiguan Allspace, Touran, I.D.* or I.D. Buzz*? Currently, these are the eight models the intuitive Carfinder is familiar with. It knows what type of person needs what kind of technology and functionality for everyday activities and for hobbies. The Carfinder also lists suggestions for color and design.

The individual sequences in the movie last about three seconds: the sunset, the cyclists, the family scene. "The headset measures which images generate the strongest responses", explains Stefan Aust, who is responsible for marketing communications at IAA. Artificial intelligence – or to be more accurate, "emotional intelligence" – controls the algorithm. What the Carfinder measures is the spontaneous, intuitive response.

 

Beaches and design symbolize the I.D. Buzz

"Depending on which images produce the strongest responses we can recommend the perfect car", Aust explains. For example, the I.D. Buzz would suit someone with a positive reaction to beaches and design. If the visitor tends more towards images symbolic of the environment and sustainability and less towards progressive design, then the e-Golf would be the best match. The Tiguan is the ideal recommendation for anyone with an obvious preference for the images symbolizing space and room.

As far as the Arteon is concerned, emotional intelligence tests impulses such as luxury, performance and speed – the Touran, on the other hand, has typical associations with suburbia, family and safety. The Polo stands for urban, practically-minded youngsters. And whoever responds strongest to the father-daughter image could be a candidate for the Polo – even if this is "only" intended as a car for the daughter.

 

How to connect with customers in the future

What form will customer contacts take in the future? How do customers find their optimal car? Volkswagen searched for answers to these questions. Work on designing the Carfinder began about six months ago. "We want to demonstrate that we are working on innovative technologies on a daily basis to make the future real", is how Stefan Aust describes the latest project from his department.

It took three and a half months to build the Carfinder. And that also involved designing the perfect chair. The intuitive Carfinder is now making its debut at the IAA. Visitors can take a seat into the future. Every guest is given a list of their top 3 models out of the eight currently available. As Aust explains, "not every viewer agrees ‘Yes, that's me!'. But that's not our goal. Above all, we want to generate new impetus, impetus for a dialog about the top 3. After that, everyone wants to see their dream car and take a look inside."

Obviously, all eight models are on display at the Volkswagen stand. "The powers of imagination are being given some virtual support from the Carfinder," Stefan Aust sums it up with a smile, as he looks forward to the Carfinder's debut. And he knows this is definitely not the end of the future.

1e-Golf: (100 kW/136 PS) electrical consumption, kWh/100 km: combined 12,7; combined CO2 emissions, g/km: 0; efficiency class: A+.
*The concept vehicle has not yet gone on sale, and therefore Directive 1999/94 EC does not apply.

Tags IAA 2017
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