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The internet of things was bound to migrate virtually all aspects of human life to digital sooner or later. It’s just that the pandemic has forced societies to make the move much sooner than anticipated.

In the automotive industry, the pace to virtuality has quickened as well, such that by 2025, it is estimated that 6 million vehicles worldwide will be sold through online platforms.

A new study by Frost & Sullivan estimates that almost 825,000 new vehicles were sold online globally in 2019, either through online financing or through partial payments online, as cited by Frost & Sullivan managing partner Sarwant Singh at Forbes.com. Singh is also the company’s Global Practice Head of Mobility, Aerospace, Defence & Security teams.

Automotive News Europe reported in its article, “How the pandemic will speed up some trends, stall others”: “But as much as the crisis has staggered the auto industry, it is also inspiring a new agility, analysts and automakers say. A case in point is online sales…With potential car buyers unable to kick tires or go for test drives, automakers rushed to set up or enhance online platforms, create virtual walk-arounds and offered the option of home or ‘contactless’ deliveries.”

The trend is now global. In the Philippines, many automotive companies are now enlisting their marketing and sales teams for online training, virtual car launches are now the norm, while purchasing vehicles can now be initiated with online transactions with dealerships.

The latest global auto brand to join the digital revolution has been Honda Cars Philippines Inc (HCPI). The Japanese carmaker’s automobile business unit in the country announced on Aug. 29 its first-ever online dealership facility for sales and after-sales services, the VIRTUAL@Honda.

“Prior to the pandemic, the world saw firsthand how digital has vastly played a role in the global trend. During the pandemic, the whole world saw how the digital platform played a significant role in our everyday lives. Automotive companies in the country already started adapting to the digital platform. Given the availability and accessibility of information through the various online platforms we have today, online launches and virtual dealerships are becoming the new norm in the Philippine automotive industry,” HCPI President Masahiko Nakamura stressed to Inquirer Motoring.

Nakamura said VIRTUAL@Honda is the company’s “take on utilizing the digital landscape amidst the global pandemic in order to provide better service to the Filipino families.”

“It is convenient, user-friendly, and most importantly, safe since customers have the ability to conduct their dealer transactions through a contactless process—at the comfort of their homes. This is part of Honda’s continuous efforts in providing a better consumer journey to our Filipino customers as we adapt to the new normal,” he said.

According to HCPI, VIRTUAL@Honda is easy to navigate and user-friendly, and is accessible through HCPI’s official website at www.hondaphil.com. Upon entering the website, customers will see the “virtual showroom” tab and once they select it, they will be directed to its home page where they will find the three major parts that contain essential customer needs when visiting a showroom: Virtual Showroom, Shopping Tools, and After-Sales.

360-degree views

Via the virtual showroom, customers using their computer or mobile devices will be able to see Honda’s full model lineup, as well as the suggested retail prices. Once the customer chooses a vehicle, select models present a 360-degree view of their exterior and interior features, as well as the colors and variants available. More features will be continuously developed to enrich digital customers’ experience.

Tools of the sale

In the Shopping Tools section, customers may be able to select and chat with their preferred dealership, compare different Honda models, download a brochure, and get an estimated quotation through the loan calculator. Moreover, those who are ready to take it to the next step may submit their inquiries, apply for auto loan, schedule a test drive, and request for quotation. Customers may also make an online reservation and monitor the status of their reserved model. Afterwards, bank details will be provided for their reference in paying the reservation fee.

Another advanced feature of VIRTUAL@Honda is customers now have the capability to see the sequence of dealerships that have available stocks.

Vehicle service scheduler

For current Honda customers, VIRTUAL@Honda also provides a more convenient way for them to have their vehicles serviced. They can now schedule an appointment for vehicle service and maintenance. Moreover, the online virtual dealership has different features such as service cost guides, parts checking and replacement guide, current programs and promotions available, and frequently asked questions (FAQs).

To learn more about VIRTUAL@Honda, visit HCPI’s official website at www.hondaphil.com.

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