Could test drives soon be a thing of the past? Let’s hope not

It appears that the relentless pace of internet buying shows no sign of slowing. Online shopping grew by 18% in 2010 with 37 million active online shoppers in the UK and its reckoned this figure will grow to more than 55m by 2014.

Latest research by automotive data specialists Sewells shows that nearly 40% of buyers would happily buy a brand new car without first test driving it.

This is probably a shock to many dealers but on reflection is fairly inevitable given the wealth of information advice and tips available on just about every car currently on the market.

Although by no means our speciality we enjoy doing car reviews and because we have no vested interest can be totally unbiased with our opinions regarding the overall package of any given car. So with this, and just about every other factor involved in the potential purchase being researched first, the test drive is perhaps not as important as it may once have been.

The point though is what if the car, after all this, turns out to be the wrong one? Well there are likely to be problems. We are still seeing every day in the trade examples of cars being traded in which are often only a couple of weeks old. Why? Because the buyer has bought or been sold the wrong car and this is often when a test drive has been carried out!

In my opinion there is still a long way to go before we can safely assume a larger chunk of buyers will buy online with no test drive in favour of big savings. However for existing brand owners who are already acquainted with a particular make and model, and are likely to stick with it, there are clear reasons to purchase a car in this way with confidence.

On the other hand although there is similar information available for used cars it is unlikely that this trend will be repeated.

Just ask Autoquake.

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