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Digital solutions vital to provide unaccompanied test drives, says AX

Dealers need to embrace digital solutions in order to provide an efficient means to facilitate unaccompanied test drives, as the auto retail sector reboots following the Coronavirus pandemic.

With unaccompanied test drives now all but mandatory, dealer interest in offering a seamless and safe service is rising sharply, says AX.

The provider of intelligent vehicle management and protection technologies says unaccompanied test drives – of new or used vehicles – are significantly easier and safer, when paired with paperless, digital systems.

Vince Powell, managing director of AX Innovation, said “As the sector reboots this week, there has been a step change in sentiment and the latest guidelines from key industry bodies brings some very welcome clarity for the sector. Demand for our paperless services is rising fast, and we know consumers are receptive to the idea of unaccompanied test drives. Dealers are realising they need to offer an efficient and safe test drive service rapidly.

“The issue is that there’s a lot of paperwork, from insurance forms to DVLA checks and dealership form-filling, it is easier said than done. Throw in the fact that safety is the biggest concern for the industry, operationally it is quite tricky.

“But there are ways to make it much more straightforward and safer, with all the paperwork performed seamlessly on a customer’s driveway and only requiring a digital signature.”

Following the announcement on Sunday that lockdown measures will be eased, demand from buyers to access vehicles safely is expected to rise sharply over the next two weeks.

The subsequent industry guidance and best practice document produced by the SMMT, NFDA, dealers and manufacturers will further cement the need for dealers to provide a safe and efficient unaccompanied test drive service.

By combining a multi-platform diary system, day-rate insurance and real-time DVLA licence checks with an electronic signature facility, AX says customers can access more services and dealers can lessen the impact of operational restrictions as the process avoids physical contact.

“In our experience, abuse of unaccompanied test drives is relatively rare but not making the most of them is common. In some ways an unaccompanied test drive can offer a much richer opportunity to engage with a customer than if you were in the car with them. By using telematics, salespeople can gain powerful insights into how and where buyers drive – this can be extremely useful in helping them choose the right car,” added Powell.  

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