Laurent Diot from Fiat, joins to discuss how Fiat, part of the Stellantis Group, is reimagining its entire customer journey to deliver a real time 3D virtual showroom in the metaverse, through its partnership with Touchcast. This new experience combines a digital-first experience with the personal touch of a live concierge, resulting in a no-barriers approach that offers a friendly end-to-end brand experience.
Laurent Diot is the Chief Marketing Officer at Fiat. Laurent has a master in Engineering Management from l’École Centrale Paris and 25 years’ international experience in the automotive world. Previous roles include Deputy General Manager, Sales and Marketing at Dongfeng-Renault Automotive Co. in China and CEO of Renault Portugal.
Read the full transcript of this episode below.
Hi, I'm Ziv Navoth and welcome to the .metaverse podcast. Today's episode is one of a series of fireside chats recorded live at CES 2023 surrounding how the metaverse is revolutionizing the automotive industry and the customer buying journey. In these conversations, we'll hear from a variety of leaders from Microsoft, Accenture, Fiat, Tekion, CNH Industrial, Wejo, PwC and ZF.
Thank you so much for joining us, Laurent. I have had such an amazing adventure getting to know the Fiat brand. I remember it from childhood and reinserting myself into this Fiat world has been so moving because it's a brand with a real soul. And I think it'll be interesting for the people that are hearing us to learn more about it and see how it morphed over the years to the point where you have this motto now that is “Tech it easy.” which is a nice motto - sounds better with an Italian accent, I think. I would love to hear more about how you see the brand developing in this digital age.
“What makes Fiat very unique is that Fiat enables a very simple, joyful mobility.” - Laurent Diot
You were saying many things about Fiat. It's true Fiat had a real beautiful universe. Fiat, in its history, has made possible mobility for the masses and for the mini.
It's a very popular brand. It's a global brand. And what makes Fiat very unique is that Fiat enables a very simple, joyful mobility. So now what we are doing, and you use the phrase “tech it easy” which is a bit of our motto and the way we approach technology. it is really what we do to make sure that this new mobility, in this electrical world that we are building on, that we are going to serve our customer in a very, very simple way, and a joyful way.
We started our partnership around this incredible vehicle, the Fiat 500 Cinquecento. And it has such an amazing history. But I think what's really interesting for the audience to learn about is the spot that it occupies. As kind of a world-leading small electric car and maybe a bit of the history on how that developed. There's so much to be said for the environmental aspect as well, because of its footprint.
And I think people don't necessarily think of electric cars this way yet. So I think really the Cinquecento is leading the way.
It's very true. The Cinquecento is not a car. It's somehow an icon. If we look the car was born, in the 50s, the first one and since then, in the last 60 years or 70 years, we had only three generation of those cars. Which is absolutely, very few in reality. And why? It's because each time, the Cinquecento was really socially relevant and that's why each time, uh, it creates joy.
Yeah. And I think this aspect of a small car is really important.
And for our audience in the United States, it's a bit of a foreign concept because cars are so big. But if you are conscious about the environment, there's a significance to the vehicle being small because it also means it weighs a lot less, which means it uses less energy by definition.
So if you're really committed to this notion of reducing your carbon footprint, the size of your electric vehicle does have an impact, is that a fair statement?
The first statement that, you know, each car has its own purpose and the purpose of the 500 is really to be the queen of the electric urban mobility cars because in reality, when you drive your car, which in most of the cases is daily in the urban environment, you don't consume a lot.
So you have a car that really runs forever. And what we are doing with this car is this: we are let's say the queen of Cinquecento is the queen of urban mobility. This is what we do and we do it very well.
For the US I would say it's also a bit the coolest car in town because on top of that, we also bring a lot of Italian flavor. We love brands and we associate our car with other very interesting partners. So this is what we do and that's what makes us the coolest car in town.
It’s so true and it's so hard to model fashion and style, and this brand is rooted in this capability of alignment with those designers. It's not just a license. It really is a creative pursuit. And I've had the privilege of working with you and with Olivier, who is the visionary CEO of Fiat, and we've been very fortunate to meet at a time where there's a lot of openness at Stellantis as a company that's taking technology very seriously and at Fiat to embrace this change.
How do you see that? How do you see a brand that has existed for 120 years moving from a medium of newspaper ads, radio ads, TV ads, and now allowing us to bring consumers into this rich world. How do we leverage something like the Metaverse to do that?
“A company, whatever the company, cannot survive 120 years, with all this rapid evolution of the world without adapting itself all the time.” - Laurent Diot
You are very right. A company, whatever the company, cannot survive 120 years, with all this rapid evolution of the world without adapting itself all the time. But I think, why Fiat is really open is because we always have a purpose and we always want to be socially relevant.
So we try to understand really well what the customer wants and what we do. And I remember, our first talk together when we were talking about the metaverse, we did not want anything complicated.
We wanted to use the metaverse to make the life of our customer simple and joyful. This is what we wanted.
“We wanted to use the metaverse to make the life of our customer simple and joyful. This is what we wanted.” - Laurent Diot
Yes. And it's been an incredible journey together of collaboration and learning. At Touchcast, we've built what we refer to as Metaverse-as-as-Service, as an offering.
But we do it by building on the shoulders of giants. Whether it's Microsoft, our strategic partner, where we run all of this software on Azure in the cloud. Whether it's using Microsoft Teams to allow your salespeople to effectively meet someone in the metaverse by virtue of just joining a Teams call. Leveraging our partnership with Unreal Engine through our relationship with Epic Games to render the car as a hyper realistic car, like a Triple A experience, if you will. And our partnership with Nvidia gives us this low level execution of being able to run these neural networks that separate the salesperson from their environment where they're sitting at home or redirecting their eye gaze. So it really takes a village to make these types of transitions and revolutions happen. And specifically at CES as we gather together, we are collecting all of these partners and celebrating this moment. Fiat is the first brand in the world and in history to sell a car in the Metaverse where you can go to the fiat.it site and soon other brands and literally walk into a dealership that's photorealistic.
With a salesperson standing there as a video and talking to you and helping you make the choice to buy this incredible vehicle. And it takes the ability to take risks, to innovate. You mentioned the brand being that kind of brand, how do you see this developing? How do you see the future of this type of relationship with a customer developing over time?
“Fiat is the first brand in the world and in history to sell a car in the Metaverse.” - Edo Segal
I think I'm super optimistic about it. Why? The first reason is because it starts from a very simple concept. We are at the point where we are not asking our customers to come to see us. Now, thanks to this kind of technology, we can go to the customers, which is a very simple idea and very efficient for the customers because it will save time and they will be also more relaxed. When they are listening to our product genius, our product expert, talking about our product, it will be at home.
In the case of our execution, you don't need a VR headset. You don't need a gaming pc. You can have a $30 Android phone and you'll see some of these incredible demos that you can see here where you walk into that showroom. I think once you make that investment in a digital twin of your product, there are a lot of use cases, right?
Selling is the one we're showing off, but it could also be after you purchase the car, how you can help your customer figure out how to do something. And it can be how the company trains its dealer network on how to sell this vehicle. There's just so many use cases, and of course how that seeps back into the physical world using these metaverse of thing devices like this beautiful LED wall where you see the car in life size in a physical dealership or in a pop-up opportunity.
So I think we've started a journey together that is so exciting for me because it does feel for me, like the year 2000 where e-commerce is just starting to happen. I think it's always about with these revolutions: is the technology ready? A lot of times it's too early and the technologies are not ready. I think that's a lot of the concern people have about the metaverse because people are expecting this magical device that Apple might chip, but the reality of the way we've approached it together is that we are ready. It's already in the market, it's all ready to go, and it's stunning in terms of the experience.
So I'm extremely optimistic about this future and as we expand into other partnerships. I'm so fortunate to have found you and Olivier on this journey and Terry and Carlos; people that believe in innovation and the future being different than the present. It's been such a joy to collaborate with your teams. Thank you so much for the partnership and this journey that you've agreed to go on with us.
“What we didn't want is anything that creates any barrier. So that's why we didn't want any ocular glasses. We didn't want to have to create an app or have to download an app to make something accessible. We just wanted to have one click.” - Laurent Diot
Thank you so much, Edo. You’ve said many things. I would like to say two things. The first thing is that for us, what we didn't want is anything that creates any barrier.
So that's why we didn't want any ocular glasses. We didn't want to have to create an app or to have to download an app to make something accessible. We just wanted to have one click and then I'm in liaison; I'm with someone, a product genius from Fiat explaining about the car. So that was the first topic that I wanted to underline.
The second topic that I want to underline is that this kind of technologies also helps us to better explain electric mobility. Because electric mobility for the automotive industry for the customer is a big change and it goes very fast. So we need to be able to explain how it is simple.
Because it is very easy to demonstrate. That this technology is simple. This technology is also really joyful and has a lot of benefits.
Couldn't have said it better myself, an iconic vehicle inside of an iconic execution. Thank you so much taking the time to share your journey with us and with the audience.
Looking forward to the continued adventure together!
To learn more about the metaverse, tune into the .metaverse podcast.