The coronavirus pandemic shifted how new cars are bought and sold. There are more online options than ever, with more dealers embracing the technology. Augmented reality and related technologies are helping customers get close to a brand's latest models without venturing into the dealership. The latest automaker to embrace the tech is BMW, which has a new AR experience that gives customers a close-up look at two of its electric vehicles.

BMW's AR experience allows customers to digitally place BMW i4 or iX into any real-world environment. However, BMW goes a step further by allowing customers to explore the vehicles. The app allows for some interaction, like opening and closing the doors, changing the exterior paint colors, and playing with the lighting elements.

Gallery: BWM i4, iX Augmented Reality Experience

BMW parented with Google Cloud on the project, which provides a photorealistic experience to users who will be able to get up close to the vehicles. Users should see fine details like the interior stitching or the leather grain. To see the vehicles, all one has to do is download the Google app for their Android or iPhone iOS devices and visit Users will find a link there leading to the experience.

AR is not a substitute for visiting a dealership and test driving a vehicle, but it could be a valuable tool in a customer's shopping arsenal. It gives customers an interactive and novel way to get close to a vehicle without the pressure of a sales associate pestering you to sign a finance agreement hovering in the background. It could certainly help customers narrow down potential purchases before they even visit a dealership.

BMW's AR experience highlights its two new electric vehicles, which are about to launch in the US. The BMW iX is the brand's new flagship, an all-electric SUV packed with technology and power. The other EV is the i4 Gran Coupe sedan, and both go on sale during the first quarter of 2022. The i4 starts at $56,395 (prices include the $995 destination charge), while the iX is a tad pricier, starting at $84,195.

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