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Scottish Government confirms car dealers can resume test drives from April 5

Sandy Burgess SMTA chief executive

Scottish car retailers have been told that they can resume unaccompanied test drive provision to boost their retail recovery from April 5.

The Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA) confirmed that dealers will be able to allow customers access to a car, prior to a purchase, following confirmation from the Scottish Government today (April 1).

Responding to an enquiry from SMTA chief executive Sandy Burgess, the Scottish Government’s head of retail policy, Catherine Brown, revealed details that were set to be updated in official guidance posted online ahead of showrooms re-opening (for schedules appointments) on Easter Monday.

In response to the question ‘Can a potential buyer take a car for a test drive before buying it?’, the guidance states: “Test drives are permitted prior to final completion of the sale.

“Test drives should take place with one sole occupant (the purchaser) within the vehicle and the car must be fully cleaned before and after.

“Motor dealers should put in place processes to ensure test drives are conducted in a restricted and responsible manner, for example through the use of appointments or by offering a test as part of the vehicle collection process.”

Burgess had appealed to the Scottish Government for clarification of its policy on test drives ahead of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

He said that SMTA members were “raring to go” and keen to get their plans and any required protocols into place in advance of the weekend.

He warned government officials that some traders – not SMTA members – had already started advertising they are advertising they are open.

But he added: “I am passionate about our members abiding by the rules.”

AM reported that Scottish car retailers, including Arnold Clark chief executive Eddie Hawthorne, were pragmatic about the cautious return to full trading mapped out by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last month.

Test drives were highlighted as a key component of securing an increased volume of car sales, and the recovery of the sector, however.

Hawthorne said: “We have looked forward to things before during this pandemic and want we don’t want is another false dawn.

“All we really wanted was a managed departure from lockdown that would allow us to plan our operations and we have that. It’s great news.”

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