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Have an avatar? Now get a car

If Toyota is first trying out its existing models virtually, American carmaker Pontiac has gone a step further, writes Mayank Tewari.

india Updated: Nov 05, 2006 03:04 IST
Mayank Tewari
Mayank Tewari

This month, Toyota and Pontiac, two leading carmakers adopted two different strategies to make maiden forays into Second Life — the virtual reality wave everyone seems to be riding these days.

Toyota is playing it safe. A fortnight ago it launched the virtual avatar of its popular real-world boxy Scion xB. While the actual purchases of the virtual variant are expected to begin in November, the carmaker has dropped numerous samples of its virtual car for residents of the Second Life to test drive.

If Toyota is first trying out its existing models virtually, American carmaker Pontiac has gone a step further.

The brand has launched a virtual landmass inside the game called Motorati Island for Second Life residents to communally develop auto-based projects like racetracks.

The company is also working on a virtual dealership where virtual Pontiac Solstice roadsters can be purchased using the virtual world’s currency.

Pontiac expects proposals from residents for spreading the car culture and will allocate space on their island to the residents whose ideas it prefers.

This month the carmaker will officially launch its site and general Internet users will get a peek inside a virtual car factory.

For a new resident of Second Life, the process of buying, running and maintaining a car or any other mode of transport like a hovercraft, helicopter or a flying motorcycle begins soon after one gets in. For not only can you buy a car off the counter with converted currency or money made in Second Life, you could get out there and make one yourself.

Every new resident of Second Life is taken to the orientation island as a rule. Owned by Linden Labs, the island hosts events and shows videos making the virtual reality seemingly real and purposeful. Here newborn life sized avatars get to meet other infants in the virtual world.

It is important because before you can go to a virtual gig and wave at the rock stars, you will need to learn how to get your avatar to wave. Dancing in a club comes after a few hours of dancing lessons. With easy tutorials run by experienced residents one learns the basics of complicated bodily movements like swinging dancing and one-on-one combat.

Once through the initial stuff you could head straight to a location where vehicles are made to order, sold and people taught how to do it on their own.

Like Busy Ben’s Vehicle Lot: the place offers aspiring designers an opportunity to create cars, tanks, planes, hovercraft, motorcycles and flying brooms to sell to other users.

These Second Life vehicles are delivered in a folder and find a place in your inventory along with other items you have purchased or created.

If you have trouble with your vehicle, you can contact the dealer or the creator of the car via an instant message and they immediately reach out with expert troubleshooting advice.

First Published: Nov 05, 2006 03:04 IST