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Pent-up demand leads to test-drive boom

The number of test drive bookings recorded by AX has more than tripled since June, as pent-up consumer demand sees customers flocking to dealerships.

There were almost 25,000 demo bookings on the AX Manage fleet in September, a 178% increase on pre-Covid-19 levels.

Vince Powell, managing director at AX Innovation, said: “Retailers have worked incredibly hard over the last six months to overcome the challenges of the global pandemic. The surge in activity in our demo fleet shows there is clearly an appetite for new vehicles despite 2020 presenting one of the most challenging years on record for the automotive industry.

“That said, the recent rise in Covid-19 cases means the winter months could prove to be difficult for dealers and it’s paramount they continue to offer services such as unaccompanied or extended test drives in order to accommodate consumer interest.”

The significant rise in test drives means demo fleet bookings now make up around a third of all AX Manage bookings, up from about 10% of all bookings pre-lockdown.

While these are positive findings for retailers, AX says dealers should continue to be cautious and adapt as necessary to local restrictions.

That means evolving processes to enforce social distancing, such as the implementation of digital paperwork and electronic payments where possible, unaccompanied test drives, regular disinfection of vehicles and smart working to ensure staff who can work from home are able to do so.

The latest SMMT figures show new car sales are down 33% year-to-date in the UK. Driven, in part, by supply-side issues with reduced output at factories and ongoing supply chain problems reducing stock availability.

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