If you are considering buying a new car, there is a very cool new feature to consider. It takes a lot of the stress out of driving to a dealer, asking questions in a noisy area, or competing with other customers for attention.
I recently met with a virtual agent in something called the Chevy MyWay showroom. I was impressed with how it works, and I was able to ask a lot of questions about the Chevy Equinox I was testing. While the car was right in my driveway, I connected to MyWay and talked to an agent in real-time about the wireless charge port, safety features, and perks.
It all started when I was looking into the specs at Chevy.com, as is my usual process. I had not noticed the MyWay service before for some reason, and even if I had known about it, I never imagined it would be a real-time video chat with someone in a showroom. Once I entered the lounge, a few minutes later I was connected with Jimmy and could see him and a row of cars.
(By the way, during our chat I noticed he was in a massive warehouse with dozens of other cars. You can select which model you are interested in when you arrive at the lounge; another time I plan to join MyWay and ask about the Camaro. I joked with Jimmy about having him drive the car while we talked and he said that was not possible.)
During the virtual tour, you can chat by text or voice, but the agency can’t see you. I asked about the parallel park features and he mentioned how some of the latest models have not had this feature because of the semiconductor shortage. That was refreshingly honest. I asked about the lane-keeping and adaptive cruise, and he explained how they work.
I asked him to show me the difference between the Premier model I was testing and the entry-level models. He was able to bring me over to each one and demonstrate some of the differences. The agents appear to be using a phone with a gimbal to show features on the car, although I couldn’t tell if that’s what my agent was using.
I also asked about wireless phone charging. There’s a small area right in front of the shift selector where you can drop your phone. After asking about it, I then took a drive with the Equinox model I had and experimented with a couple different phones, tested the lane-keeping and the adaptive cruise, and checked out some of the OnStar features.
One thing that I really like about the Equinox is just the new handling mechanics — the vehicle is a bit sportier than before with a 1.5T engine. It rides smoothly and those extra safety features are handy considering this is not a luxury crossover by any means.
I’m sure the next phase of this type of virtual showroom is going to be asking the agent to drive for you. Forget the VR headset, I don’t think that will help. But it would be cool if there would be a way to watch as someone takes the car out on a track and demonstrates how lane-keeping works or how some of the other features help you drive. The downside is that I am guessing there would have to be two people demonstrating everything, one to drive and one to hold the phone or camera. It’s not the same as actually driving, but would give a potential customer a rough idea of how everything works. In a Camaro, you could see acceleration. I could see a demo like that helping people decide between trim levels as well.
I’m impressed by the showroom and the knowledgeable agents. It’s a great way to kick the tires, even if you have to ask the agent to do it.