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Honda pilots two-way TV

Honda UK will launch a pilot scheme to develop live links from digital TV viewers to local dealers next spring.

Retail buyers and fleet drivers choosing to respond to a commercial will be able to press the remote’s red button and be connected to their local showroom.

They will be taken on an electronic walk around cars while using the phone to discuss options, prices and to book a test drive.

By the end of March, Honda hopes to have a pilot scheme in place with three or four dealers who will have cameras installed in the dealership.

Live-TV dealers will be limited to those in areas with cable television, as only this enables two-way links between the viewer and participating showroom.

Simon Thompson, Honda UK head of marketing, says: “A number of issues need to be resolved, such as what happens when several people in one area press the button during the same commercial.

“We may need to have a call-back procedure or a link to a centre location to handle calls when the dealership is busy. There is also the question of what time commercials are screened, as dealerships will have to be manned.

“The network regards the enterprise as interesting. We will have to arrange training because it’s important that interactive TV enquiries are dealt with properly. Maybe, in 50 years, all cars will be sold this way.”

Thompson says the link will appeal to women intimidated by car showrooms and to busy young buyers used to accessing information at the touch of a button. The service will be provided by Zip TV, funded by Honda, BT, Unilever and other large companies wanting interactive services.

Autotrader claims a million used car searches a month via interactive television and Jonathan Williams, head of marketing, says: “Manufacturers are embracing digital TV which is great but it’s not yet growing as fast as the Government and others predicted.”

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