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Nissan Pathfinder Shown Off Virtually at Dealers

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author photo by Jeffrey Archer August 2012
  • Nissan developed the technology with Microsoft.
  • Buyers can virtually explore the Pathfinder at dealers.
  • The program goes live at 16 dealers.

A new technology developed by Nissan and Microsoft allows car shoppers to explore a new car inside and out--even if it's not yet at dealerships. A handful of Nissan dealers will soon adopt a program that uses Microsoft Kinect technology to virtually explore a 2013 Nissan Pathfinder before the SUV arrives in showrooms.

According to Nissan, the Pathfinder Kinect Experience lets shoppers virtually explore the all-new SUV inside and out using Kinect's "Natural User Interface." That's the same technology used by the Kinect tool for Microsoft's Xbox 360 video game console, which allows users to play video games using gestures and spoken commands instead of game controllers.

In dealership showrooms, Kinect technology will instead be deployed to help shoppers take a closer look at the 2013 Pathfinder before it goes on sale this fall. Potential buyers can use a Windows-based kiosk featuring a TV and a computer to view the car up close, previewing colors, exterior styling and wheel designs. The system even allows buyers to virtually "step inside" the 2013 Pathfinder to view upholstery options, interior styling, an available rear seat entertainment system and even the SUV's front and rear legroom.

"Kicking the tires is a critical step in a consumer's car buying process," said Jon Brancheau, Nissan North America's vice president of marketing. "People want to see the cars first. But what happens if the dealer doesn't have that 'dream car' on the lot, or the car has not been produced yet?"

Indeed, the technology can help shoppers decide whether the all-new Pathfinder is worth the wait by letting them get a closer look than traditional images can provide. And while the Pathfinder Kinect Experience can't simulate the 2013 Pathfinder's driving characteristics, shoppers who like what they see in the system are more likely to wait for the real thing to arrive in showrooms. To Brancheau, that's a major improvement over today's sales process.

"How many sales are left on the table when [dealers] can't put their customers in the desired car, and make the critical physical connection to close the deal?" Brancheau said.

Although Nissan has not yet announced which dealerships will feature the Pathfinder Kinect Experience, the automaker says the kiosks debuted on August 20 at 16 retailers in 13 states. While the program is only scheduled to run through the end of November, Nissan says that it could eventually expand to all of the automaker's 1,100 dealers if it's successful. Similar Kinect-based virtual showrooms are already in use at a few Audi and Ford dealerships in Europe.

For the first time in its long history, the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder uses a car-based unibody design instead of body-on-frame construction commonly found on trucks and larger SUVs. The 2013 Pathfinder will also include a 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 in its base price of under $30,000 when it arrives in dealerships.

What it means to you: The Pathfinder Kinect Experience gives prospective buyers the best available insight into the upcoming 2013 Pathfinder.


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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Nissan Pathfinder Shown Off Virtually at Dealers - Autotrader