Buyers prefer unaccompanied test drives, reveals study

Young married couple look into a car at a car dealership. Purchase and car rental.

Potential car buyers have revealed that they want to test drive cars on their own and not be accompanied by sales staff.

This was a key finding of research from eBay Motors Group and its Consumer Insight Panel which polled the views of 2,000 car buyers on incentives dealers can offer to boost test drive bookings.

Unaccompanied test drives were the most popular incentive, preferred by a third of buyers, however 23% valued having a salesperson on hand to answer questions.

With four in 10 buyers, longer test drivers were also a popular choice. These were evenly split between those wanting a car for 24 hours (25%) and a full day (24%).

Sales staff disclosing in advance any special deals available was another important factor in test drive conversions, as indicated by 31% of customers.

Other influencing factors were zero-excess insurance cover (22%) and being able to negotiate a final cost beforehand (21%).

Overall, one in five buyers were likely to take a test drive if they could book one online.

“Test drives are an integral part of the car buying experience with our research revealing how some dealers can achieve higher volumes of bookings by listening to customer needs and removing any potential friction,” said Lucy Tugby, marketing director of eBay Motors Group.

“Unaccompanied test drives were the norm during the Covid lockdowns, so processes exist to offer them again if they have been suspended. However, they are not for everyone, as nearly a quarter of buyers want a salesperson in the car to answer their questions. This demonstrates how dealers need to have a balanced approach to their test drive offerings.

“Likewise, some dealers might need to review the length of their test drives and offer longer ones. Promoting these benefits will help attract buyers to a particular dealership.

“With dealers facing the ongoing challenge of converting leads into sales, offering more flexible approaches to the traditional test drive could provide an ideal opportunity for dealers to stand out and build rapport with customers,” she said.

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