Strange But True? 11.4% Of Car Buyers Don’t Take Test Drives

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The rise of the internet has led to a different way of purchasing things. Instead of just walking into brick and mortar stores, we research (and research and research…) different products, compare prices, read reviews and the like. This easily accessible information has been a boon to costumers. Let’s face it, for most people the auto buying experience is a real drag. People don’t like pressure tactics and most (some people love it) don’t enjoy haggling.

The age of the interest has also seemingly quenched a love of driving for a lot of younger buyers. These trends have combined for an eye-raising statistic in a new survey out by Maritz Research, via The Detroit News. They did a survey of 80,219 buyers of model year 2012 vehicles. Eight in ten reported researching their purchase on the internet. The statistic that made the most waves though is the fact that 11.4% percent reported not taking a test drive. If taken at face value, it seems like a shocker – thousands spent on a vehicle the buyer hasn’t driven.

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What the survey didn’t reveal though was uncover any underlying fundamentals How much of the 11.4% had never driven the vehicle question in period, or spent a significant amount of time with it? It’d be interesting to see how many really bought it without any prior experience whatsoever. We would not be OK with buying a car we haven’t spend a significant amount of time with. Regardless of the underlying data though, the trend is one dealers aren’t happy with, as they lose the chance to try to push more expensive options or try to encourage a quick decision.

Chris Travell, vice president of strategic consulting for Maritz Research says: “I just find it quite fascinating and a little baffling….as cliché as perhaps it sounds, there’s that new-car smell that needs to be experienced firsthand and cannot be experienced over the Internet.” Well, they could experience that smell after they buy their car, but we get his point. For dealers, one conclusion stands out: they need to improve the buying experience so more people feel comfortable walking in.

  1. Some people don’t feel comfortable test driving the car with someone sitting next to them… it may provoke anxiety etc. I almost bought a car sight unseen because I found that less stressful than having to deal with sales etc.

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