Test drive changing landscapes

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Why are car buyers increasingly favouring alternatives to visiting a car dealership?

Surprisingly customers see the test drive as one of the more frustrating moments in the car purchasing journey – and yet it’s meant to be the point where people get excited and make decisions.

Issues are often associated with the availability of suitable models, the presentation of the vehicle, the length of the drive, whether the experience is tailored and that drives seem to be very much on the dealer’s terms and not in line with the customer’s desires.

The advent of ‘peer-to-peer’ test drives and the use of car-club/microrentals demonstrates that customers are increasingly favouring alternatives to dealers, often bypassing the showroom environment completely.

As a result, a number of brands have experimented with Car Club style offers linked to lifestyle brands, town centre locations and using smartphone keyless access. Taking this trend a step further, recent articles in the media have suggested that 2017 will be the year that tens of thousands of motorists will start to buy new cars not from a salesman, but directly from their laptops, tablets and smartphones.

The BBC recently reported that since launch in November 2015, Hyundai Rockar has found that just 53% of customers opt to test drive a car before buying. The reason may be their trust in the brand - or perhaps their reluctance to spend too much time on the whole car-buying process.

In short, the industry needs to find new ways to offer, enable and deliver test drives that better accord with customer needs, desires and behaviours, or risk losing contact with clients at this pivotal point in the decision-making process.

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