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The COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines created new challenges for vehicle dealerships, one of the most prominent being how to conduct test drives without having a customer and salesperson in the car together.

Now, customers actively prefer unaccompanied test drives. Our recent study of 2,000 UK motorists found that 63% would prefer to have a longer test drive without a salesperson present. 


It has always been possible to provide unaccompanied test drives, but dealerships are reluctant to do so due to risks such as vehicle theft and damage. However, post-COVID, a majority of motorists demand it, as they feel it makes the experience less ‘awkward’, allows them to choose their own route and means less pressure to drive without making mistakes. 

This means that, in order for dealerships to stand a chance of acquiring new customers amid a very competitive market for new car sales, they should consider adapting to this new normal. 

Read on to find out why this might be, and how you can improve the test drive experience and increase chances of a sale.

Find out more

Consumers want unaccompanied test drives

According to our survey, almost two thirds of UK drivers want unaccompanied test drives to become the norm. There are many reasons for this, including: 

  • 71% said it would help them focus on the car itself without being distracted by the salesperson 
  • 61% of drivers said it would make the test drive experience less awkward 
  • 54% said It would give them the chance to drive the car on their preferred route, rather than one pre-selected by the salesperson
  • 52% of motorists said they would feel they could test the car’s performance more thoroughly

Test drives are an important part of the vehicle sales process

During our survey, 91% of drivers said they see the test drive as an important part of the car buying process. They play an essential role for dealers, too. Test drives help to shift customers from the consideration stage to the purchasing stage of the buying journey, as well as ensuring that there are no misunderstandings about the vehicle, and allowing the customer to assess comfort and performance.

Is there an ideal test drive length?

Some vehicle buyers know exactly what they want when they walk into a dealership, whereas others prefer to test drive a vehicle before signing on the dotted line. 

With this in mind, it is highly important to get that test drive experience exactly right. Doing so will ensure a smooth vehicle sale and potentially build a strong relationship with the customer, who may then come back to your dealership when they are ready to purchase their next vehicle. 

For a great test drive experience, 1 in 5 drivers say that the test drive experience should last for longer than two hours.  

Reducing the risks of unaccompanied test drives

One of the main reasons dealerships have been put off unaccompanied test drives in the past is risk of damage. Damage to a vehicle has the potential to cause conflict between a dealer and a customer, as sometimes it’s difficult to determine whether the damage appeared before or during the test drive.

Using telematics to improve the test driving experience

An important factor to consider when enabling unaccompanied test drives is how to provide a car salesperson’s insight during the test drive. This can be done using telematics.

Telematics can help a salesperson to sell a vehicle by providing insight into various aspects of the test drive. This could include where the vehicle is being driven, how many miles it’s being driven and the driving behaviour of the customer. 

What’s more, almost 70% of consumers say they are happy to test drive a vehicle with telematics if it means they can drive the vehicle unaccompanied. 

Prepare for new reg day with unaccompanied test drives

There are many ways to prepare your dealership for unaccompanied test drives, including getting your demonstrator fleet ready, implementing an effective diary and booking system, and more. 

How AX can help you facilitate unaccompanied test drives

Unaccompanied test drives have always been a powerful sales tool for dealerships. 

However, many dealerships don’t have the technology in place to offer unaccompanied test drives without significant costs, risks and logistical challenges.

AX is here to help. Book a demo with us today to see how our digital dealership solution could help you:

Find out more in our free on-demand webinar: How to provide unaccompanied test drives in a safe and efficient way.

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If you need some more information about working with AX, or want some more information on AX's unaccompanied test drives, feel free to fill in the form below and we will get back in contact with you.