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Contact: Karen Vonder Meulen
BMW LAUNCHES VIRTUAL SALES CENTERS FAST, ENTERTAINING, INFORMATIVE, DRIVER-FRIENDLY
WOODCLIFF LAKE, NEW JERSEY, FEBRUARY 11, 2002…BMW of North America is set to unveil a groundbreaking new sales tool dubbed the BMW Virtual Sales Center (VSC), a cutting-edge interactive station that allows customers to design their potential new vehicles, gives them a hands-on experience of the revolutionary new 7 Series iDrive – one knob that controls everything in the car, from cd player to climate control – and keeps everything current on the unit all the time. As an integral part of the program every BMW dealer is linked to a broadband Internet connection, allowing BMW to do high-quality video updates in a few hours.
The sleek, streamlined station will be installed in 350 showrooms across the United States later this year. More than a simple sales tool, however, the VSC units deliver “a full, BMW branding experience,” according to Holly Babich, BMW’s Consumer Events Manager, the executive who turned BMW’s vision into an innovative showroom marketing tool. “The VSC provides DVD-quality sight, sound and motion including lush driving footage of every series and model. And it all happens within a few feet of the sight and aroma of the actual vehicles,”
At the touch of a finger short, polished video presentations explain the intricacies of safety, stabilization, suspension, steering and other competitive, state-of-the-art BMW features. The VSC also includes full-screen versions of such things as BMW’s innovative internet film series, The Hire.
The VSC systems also introduce many drivers to the unique iDrive system of the new 7 Series. “The iDrive simulator is the next best thing to a test drive,” according to Babich, “because it features the actual software and hardware used in the new 7 Series. It allows customers to experience the full power of what BMW’s Design Director Chris Bangle calls an ‘intuitive approach to driving that puts the driver first.’”
“High-speed web access also means that for personal interaction like Build Your Own BMW the VSC rapidly and seamlessly secures the appropriate page within BMW’s web site. Now our customers can play with models and colors until their dream car appears. But with a major difference from pure web interaction,” Babich said. “This time a BMW client advisor will be standing by, ready to turn that dream into a sale.”
In creating the stations, BMW put a high priority on communicating the richness of the BMW brand. “A BMW is far more than the sum of its parts,” said Babich “It’s the whiff of racing legend, of James Bond, and more recently The Hire – BMW’s award-winning internet film series created by renowned directors John Frankenheimer, Ang Lee, Wong Kar-Wai, Guy Ritchie and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. For those who might have missed it, or who want to see it again bigger and better, The Hire is all there, too, easily accessible through the main menu.”
The sleek design of the VSC features a polished beveled glass tabletop along with two high stools that invites consumers to sit and explore the unit. Adding to the unique design are two powder-coated metal doors. When open, the unit reveals the multimedia touch screen and changeable graphic panels. Closed, the unit has a sturdy look and feel, with an aluminum and chrome plated steel body that reflects the design elements of the interior of the BMW Center showroom. Concealed storage compartments and lockable keyboard unit are located beneath the glass tabletop surface for dealer accessibility.
BMW of North America, Inc. teamed with Frank Mayer & Associates, Inc., a full-service merchandising company based in Grafton, Wis., to design and build the BMW Virtual Sales Center (VSC). Frank Mayer & Associates in turn brought aboard award winning partners: Reality Pictures of New York City for all video and graphic content; Netkey, Inc., of Branford, Conn. for its patented, web-enabled kiosk management software, its innovative video integration expertise as well as its considerable overall software solutions know-how and Omni Tech Corp of Pewaukee, Wis. to supply the hardware that would support BMW’s vision of a fast, connected system.
BMW Group in America
BMW of North America has been present in the United States since 1975. Since then, the BMW Group in the United States has grown to include marketing, sales and financial service organizations for the BMW and MINI brands; a South Carolina manufacturing operation; DESIGNWORKS/USA, an industrial design firm in California; a technology office in Silicon Valley and various other operations throughout the country. The BMW Group is represented in the U.S. through a network of 340 car, 327 Sports Activity Vehicle and 148 motorcycle retailers. BMW US Holding Corp., the Group’s headquarters for North, Central and South America, is located in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.
Information about BMW Group products is available to consumers via the Internet atBMW USA BMW Motorcycles and Mini USA
Journalist note: Information about the BMW Group and its products is available to journalists on-line at the BMW Group PressClub at the following address - www.press.bmwgroup.com.