Introducing the G-Box
The G-Box combines perfect craftsmanship with digital simulation to depict the G-Class in a configurator - highly individual, multi-sensory and interactive.
The G-Box has been awarded with the 2022 Digital Media Award for Best Use of Technology: Winner. We are super excited and honored to receive this award for our work with Mercedes-Benz China.
Stronger than time
The G-Class is one of the longest-produced vehicle models in automotive history: the "Geländewagen" with the characteristic box design has been built in Austria and exported by Mercedes-Benz all over the world for over four decades. At first glance, the G-Class may still appear boxy and spartan - in fact, it now offers unique, luxurious and state-of-the-art equipment details.
Along with the strong trend towards individualization and the shift towards a tailor-made build-to-order market, Mercedes-Benz is redefining the retail approach for the G-class in China.
“With our individualization program G manufaktur – a key element of our luxury strategy – we provide more than a million combinations of finest materials, colors and packages.” describes Ralf Eisenreich, Head of G-Class Sales Management in China, the sales strategy of the G-Class.
What is the G-Box?
Placed in brand showrooms, trade shows and events, the G-Box is an eye-catching, movable piece of furniture that transforms any venue into a product sales area.
The centerpiece is the 360-degree real-time configurator based on Unreal Engine 4, which visualizes the G-Class in native 4K resolution on a 65-inch touchscreen.
Users can interact via the touchscreen or with the help of the 3D-printed, sensor-equipped objects: paints, rims and seats can be placed in the RFID scan field, which instantly adapts the visualization of the G-Class.
"We wanted to give new and intuitive impetus to the user journey by using the high visual quality of the Unreal Engine at the heart of a multi-sensory experience", says Hendrik Niedenthal, Project Lead at mediaman Shanghai, describing the philosophy behind the approach.
While the G-Box's typical usage scenario involves an expert-led configuration, its design also aims to allow for a free and intuitive self-exploration of the vehicle and all of its options.
The mediaman UX team has therefore created an interface on which the large, central 3D model of the G-Class can be easily navigated like on a smartphone with familiar finger gestures such as swipe, pinch or tap. A 360-degree exploration mode allows users to create their own customized view by specifying angles, perspectives, light (from dawn to big city lights) and environment (urban, industrial, natural) for their G-Class. In addition, various features of the car are animated, such as doors, windows, ambient lights and even the wheels can be rotated at gradually different speeds to see the movement of the rims.
The actual configurator contains all options that are currently available in China. Users can create configurations, save them, compare them and even transfer them to their smartphone with a convenient QR code scan. A WeChat integration, a necessary feature for Chinese customers, enables the download of images and videos of a G-Class that has just been configured.
A multi-sensory experience
Key differentiator of the G-Box is the interplay of tangible elements with the digital content, enabling physical interaction with a multi-sensory response. Discreet LED signals indicate which option is available for the currently selected G-Class model, or alternatively, reflect the ambient lighting selected in an interior configuration.
Any available colors, rims or seats are placed next to the screen as precisely colored and 3D printed miniature versions, ready to be picked up, felt and placed on the RFID field to be included in the current configuration.
“The G-Box provides our customers with a unique experience for all senses. They can see, touch and feel the various 'manufaktur' elements, which later will be part of their unique G-Class, following the motto: 'Build your own G'. They can see all the fantastic paints, touch the classy interior and get the feeling about the wheels”, Zhang Xue, G-Class Individualization and touchpoint consultant, emphasizes the importance to address all senses of a potential buyer.
Moreover, the G-Box integrates the sounds, which make the G-Class so iconic. From the more vintage metallic door closing sound to the powerful roaring of the state-of-the-art V8 engine of the Mercedes-AMG G63, the audio impulses add another emotional layer to the overall experience. Because goosebumps never lie…
The G-Box equates to major shifts in automotive retail, as they are occurring in China, but increasingly in other markets as well.
These shifts are primarily defined by rising customer expectations for vehicle customization and a hybrid retail experience that seamlessly and consistently spans across all digital and physical touchpoints. In such scenario, the customer is able to pick up on a configuration and proceed accordingly at any point in time and at any touch point during the buying journey.
In addition, its technological architecture and data-driven appearance make each G-Class created with the G-Box a digital Built-to-Order (BTO) representation of a product cycle, where updates or local market availability can be easily set over the air (OTA).
In the future, the G-Box will play an important role at dealerships or other retail locations in presenting the G-Class in all possible individual configurations, to visualize complexity but most importantly to give a customer an emotional and unique buying experience.
The idea and design of the G-Box furniture was created by AnySCALE (Shanghai).
The construction of the G-Box was carried out by the U-Team (Shanghai).