New Car Test Drives no Good for What Car

What Car recently revealed research claiming that two-thirds of new car dealerships failed to provide customers with a suitable car to test drive.

Carried out amongst a sample of 48 dealers, almost half of the dealers surveyed could not provide a specific car to drive when requested. Worst amongst those surveyed was BMW, which was unable to fulfil the request for test drives 100% of the time.

Ford emerged ahead of the rest, with dealers capable of providing the requested cars 75% of the time. Volkswagen was second in What Car’s list, with dealers scoring a 50% success rate.

“Given the plethora of niche vehicle upon niche vehicle from car manufacturers, this is not a huge surprise,” said Motoriety’s man in the trade. “UK new car sales are going OK at the minute, and most special cars are sold pretty quickly, including dealer demos. Ford’s success in providing demos is to be expected, and can likely be ascribed to a simple range of models with reasonable levels of options available, and their high rate of production to a standard fleet spec.

“More often than not, it is used car departments which can more easily supply test drive cars to order. Many used car buyers are bonused on what sells, so they are very in tune with what customers are chasing. Though used car enquiries would appear to come from browsers locating the cars on the Internet, the skill of a good used car buyer anticipating consumer demand has a strong bearing on used car forecourt activity from a dealer’s point of view.

“In new cars, demo ordering is down to a new car sales or general sales manager and, while that is also led by experience, they are also obliged to order what will sell easiest, to protect their profits. So, while car company X might manufacture a 1.6-litre base spec in their C-sector platform, the 1.4 petrol and diesel engines will sell fastest, and the hard-to-shift models will usually only come in to order. Thus finding something mid-range to test drive could be a challenge.”

How does your car dealer stack up for service? Set price servicing at car dealers often leaves out important components like brakes and plugs. Why pay for a glorified oil change?