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  • Pent-up demand and need for unaccompanied test drives sees surge in dealer demo fleet usage between June and September
  • Test drives now make up about a third of all AX Manage bookings compared to around ten percent pre-COVID-19
  • Warning that dealers must remain nimble and flexible as COVID challenges continue
  • Unaccompanied test drives are essential as rules constantly evolve and new tiered local lockdowns spring up

The number of test drive bookings has more than tripled in recent months, according to analysis by AX of the latest data from its dealer demo fleet.

There were nearly 25,000 demo bookings on the AX Manage fleet in September alone, a 178% increase on pre-COVID-19 levels.

Following the harsh lockdown period, it appears significant pent-up consumer demand for vehicles resulted in customers flocking to dealerships over the summer.

With many – but not all – dealers offering unaccompanied test drives as part of social distancing measures, it seems customers remained undeterred to demo their next potential vehicle purchase.

The significant rise in test drives means demo fleet bookings now make up around a third of all AX Manage bookings, up from about ten percent of all bookings pre-lockdown.

While these are positive findings for retailers, the recent rise in COVID-19 cases means dealers should continue to be cautious and adapt as necessary to local restrictions, with unaccompanied test drives among the best solutions to help maintain momentum.

That means evolving processes to enforce social distancing, such as the implementation of digital paperwork and electronic payments where possible, unaccompanied test drives, regular disinfection of vehicles and smart working to ensure staff who can work from home are able to do so.

The latest SMMT figures* show new car sales are down 33 percent year-to-date in the UK. In part, this has been caused by supply-side issues with reduced output at factories due to social distancing measures and ongoing supply chain problems which have contributed to a decline in available stock.

Vince Powell, Managing Director at AX Innovation, AX, said “Retailers have worked incredibly hard over the last six months to overcome the challenges of the global pandemic. The surge in activity in our demo fleet shows there is clearly an appetite for new vehicles despite 2020 presenting one of the most challenging years on record for the automotive industry.

“That said, the recent rise in COVID-19 cases means the winter months could prove to be difficult for dealers and it’s paramount they continue to offer services such as unaccompanied or extended test drives in order to accommodate consumer interest.”

AX Manage provides an all-inclusive digital solution for dealers, bodyshops and service centres by combining day rate insurance, diary bookings, vehicle telematics, company car tax management and DVLA licence checking in a single location.

This enables dealers to easily manage unaccompanied test drives and for all associated administration to be completed using a contactless system.

For more information about AX services, take a look at AX Innovation.