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Dealer advice on van demonstrators published

With the sharp rise in commercial vehicle sales by car dealers, the RMI has produced the following guidelines on the risks of running demonstrator vehicles over 3.5 tonnes.

"It is vital that car dealers understand the implications of selling commercial vehicles over 3.5 tonnes," warned Sue Robinson, RMI franchise director.

"There is an increasing amount of legislation in this area and the penalties for non compliance are severe."

The guidelines on current vehicle legislation and the possible risks of running demonstrator vehicles over 3.5 tonnes for car dealers are:


Will a car dealer need an Operators (O) licence for a demonstrator vehicles?

  • NO not if the vehicle is used as a ‘demonstrator vehicle’ for prospective customers.
  • It is the user/operator/person testing the vehicle that MUST have an ‘O’ licence if they intend to carry a load in the demonstrator.

Could a car dealer carry/deliver parts in the demonstrator vehicle with a GVW (gross vehicle weight) over 3.5t?

  • NO the carriage of goods would require an ‘O’ licence.

Would a dealer need to employ a CPC qualified Transport Manager to have a +3.5t GVW demonstrator registered in their name?

  • No not if the vehicle is for demonstration purposes only.
  • Yes you would be required to employ a person who holds a recognised CPC qualification if you used that vehicle to transport goods and parts.

Will dealer sales staff and vehicle technicians be required to have and use a driver card (Tacho card)?

  • NO the European Commission decided the scope of regulation 561/2006 EC should not include goods vehicles where the driver is not involved in the carriage of goods as part of their employment.

This covers:

  1. Drivers employed by vehicle hire companies to collect and deliver empty vehicles or move vehicles between local rental branches,
  2. Sales staff who deliver or demonstrate unladen vehicles
  3. Mechanics that may collect and deliver empty vehicles for repair, road test for fault diagnosis or take empty vehicles for annual test.

Do car dealers need to keep records of staff driving hours in demonstrator vehicles?

  • NO however, many dealers may consider it good practice to keep written records of drivers’ hours or to use the digital tachograph to record driving hours. This could be useful in a usage report or if a Traffic Officer/Police were to stop and enquire into the activities of the vehicle.

What dealer staff are qualified to drive commercial vehicles over 3.5tonnes (gross vehicle weight)?

  • All employees who passed their standard car test before 1 January 1997 are qualified to drive commercials up to 7.5t GVW. Dealer staff who have passed after this date will be required to take an additional C1 category driving test to drive vehicles over 3.5t and under 7.5t GVW.

What responsibilities do I have as a dealer when agreeing to loan of a 3.5tonnes demonstrator vehicle to a prospective customer?

  • Dealers have a duty of care to ensure that the customer has an ‘O’Licence that allows them to use an extra goods vehicle on the road in connection with their business i.e., the carriage of goods.
  • Dealers have to ensure that the drivers of these demonstrators have the correct driving licence and hold a ‘Drivers (Tacho) Card’ to formally record their driving hours on the tachograph.
  • Dealers need to record the vehicles mileage at the beginning and at the end of a customer’s demonstration loan period.
  • Dealers need to ensure and have recorded on paper, that the vehicle commenced its demonstration period in a fully roadworthy condition, without any safety defects.


  • Dealers please note; heavy commercials (+3.5t GVW) operators are legally required to have their vehicles fully inspected and repaired when necessary every 4 to 13 weeks dependent on usage, mileage, condition and age.
  • Operators are also required by law to ensure a responsible person or the driver carries out a walk-round inspection of the vehicle every time it goes on public highways.

What happens if, as a Dealer, I do not comply with these rules? The vehicle can be impounded if

  • A goods vehicle not being used under authorisation of an operator’s licence, when used in connection with a trade or business at the time it is apprehended by an “authorised person” (i.e. the Police/ VOSA Examiner).
  • Where it is clear that the owner of the vehicle (i.e. the Dealer) had “guilty knowledge” that it was being used without an operator’s licence, the impounding would be likely to be deemed legitimate. Therefore, it would be advisable for dealers to show due diligence and check for an operator’s licence (with sufficient authorisation on it to accommodate the vehicle that is to be demonstrated), before allowing a prospective customer to have the vehicle - particularly where it is clear that the customer will want to road test the vehicle while laden.

The RMI, who has worked closely with VOSA who enforce this legislation, would not want to deter car dealers taking the commercial decision to sell larger commercial vehicles over 3.5t GVW but the message is clear, there is more legislation to consider and the penalties for getting it wrong are severe.

The RMI's view is; it’s worth calculating the volumes your likely to sell and its viability and making someone in your organisation responsible for overseeing and authorizing the usage and demonstrations of these larger commercial vehicles.

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