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To find a foothold in the Metaverse, car makers need to switch gears

Jake Stott explores why car makers need to reimagine themselves in the Metaverse

The Metaverse—a nebulous term describing an expansive network of experiences at the intersection of the physical and the digital world—is all the rage these days. In fact, while the term appeared fewer than a dozen times in regulatory filings between 2000 and 2020, the US Securities and Exchange Commission reports it was mentioned over 1,100 times in 2022 alone, according to TIME.

With all that hype, carmakers Nissan and Toyota were quick to hop on the trend, unveiling new vehicles with sleek virtual expos in the Metaverse. But despite a few experimental launches, automotive brands have mostly shied away from the Metaverse. Not without reason either, as advertisers and innovators are still figuring out how to take advantage of this new technology.

The good thing is that there are plenty of routes to explore.

Putting a new spin on classic concepts

One such example is the good old showroom concept. Just like tech-savvy car brands found ways to reimagine the showroom in the digital space nearly ten years ago, the Metaverse is another opportunity to innovate on an already familiar and well-established practice. But now creatives and innovators can rely on the Metaverse’s unprecedented capacity for immersive experiences.

Nissan gallery in the Metaverse
Nissan has launched its Nissan Crossing gallery in virtual reality, creating a new way to communicate in the Metaverse

Then there is the collectible angle. For decades, collectors have flocked to car shows around the world to slake their thirst for classic vehicles—and this tradition is poised to extend into the Metaverse. With the rise of NFTs (and their growing adoption by tech giants like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Snap), there are infinite possibilities to build brand awareness, deliver novel experiences and form memorable relationships with denizens of the Metaverse.

In January 2022 alone, monthly NFT trading volumes topped US$6bn, indicating strong interest in blockchain-based collectibles like apes, doodles and luxury clothing. It’s no surprise that Bentley recently revealed it will be dropping its own NFT collection in September. Sure, NFT use cases are still limited, but that is likely to drastically change as the Metaverse matures, opening up new avenues for consumer brands to engage with their user base.

Reimagining transportation in the metaverse

We also shouldn’t forget that—although virtual—the Metaverse is a massive place to explore. Research shows that prices in the virtual real estate market skyrocketed by a whopping 879% from 2019 to 2022, while the value of physical real estate grew by 39% by comparison. As we continue to build out the Metaverse, automotive brands ought to keep in mind that virtual globetrotters will likely need some sort of transportation to traipse around the Metaverse’s various centres of activity. What I’m alluding to is that—just like in the real world—there will be plenty of virtual travellers looking to explore the wonders of the Metaverse in a shiny new vehicle.

With the rise of NFTs…there are infinite possibilities to build brand awareness, deliver novel experiences and form memorable relationships with denizens of the Metaverse

Steering into the unknown

For the time being, though, the Metaverse is mostly a big question mark. As put by Matthew Ball, former Amazon exec and author of the de-facto metaverse bible “The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything,” the evolution of the Metaverse is impossible to predict. “Technology is recursive,” Ball  told the Washington Post, “and new technology leads to new behaviours or use cases.”

Similarly to the internet 20 years ago, there’s no telling where the Metaverse will lead us over the next decade. But to stay ahead of constantly shifting consumer trends, automotive brands’ best bet to find relevance in this new exciting space is to keep an open mind — and remain willing to roll down wherever the future takes them.

 The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.

Jake Stott is the co-founder and CEO of Web3 Super Agency Hype

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