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Almost two thirds of motorists would choose to visit a dealership in person before buying a car according to new research.

The Motor Ombudsman survey of 1,873 motorists conducted by YouGov suggested that despite retailers’ rapid adoption of digital buying options, most buyers want to visit a physical showroom before their purchase.

While the impact of the pandemic has resulted in a significant shift to online shopping in all areas of commerce, the results of the survey suggest there may be pent-up demand that could arrive as the third national lockdown eases.

Nearly 85 per cent of respondents said they were less inclined to buy a car from start to finish using the web due to wanting a test drive. Meanwhile, 73 per cent of drivers were concerned about having to rely on third party photos, reports and documentation to determine the condition of a car.

A completely virtual buying experience also raised questions about the opportunity to negotiate regarding price, with over 41 per cent of those surveyed flagging this as an issue.

"Many dealerships have done a spectacular job of embracing digital tools to support sales and aftersales during the pandemic. This research does highlight that most buyers want to retain at least some elements of the tried and tested buying process of old, however.

Vince Powell, Managing Director of AX Innovation at AX

“What we expect is that buyer preferences will become clearer as we emerge from lockdown – their actions will tell the industry what they want, and it will likely include a balance of in-person contact and digital services.

“For example, with test drives still being so important to drivers, and Covid safety likely to remain an issue for some time, AX expects the surge of interest in its AX Manage software to continue. This enables dealers to easily offer unaccompanied test drives and provide a contact-free system for administration.