Too few test drives hurt dealer revenues

Wiesbaden, Germany. Dealers are losing the chance to sell new-car buyers more expensive vehicles and accessories, a new survey says.

That’s because fewer new-car buyers are taking test drives, according to Marketing Partner, a research company here.

“At first glance, you could congratulate dealers for managing to sell their cars without buyers taking a test drive,” said Daniel Rexhausen, who handles the automotive industry at Marketing Partner.

But Rexhausen said dealers are missing out on substantial accessory business by not getting customers to take test drives.

“They are losing the opportunity to have customers experience higher-end models and accessory equipment such as navigation systems -- and to sell them,” Rexhausen said.

Marketing Partner commissioned Consilium, a market research company, to survey 640 customers who bought a car within the past two years.

According to the study, nearly half of these consumers made their purchase without taking a test drive. Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen buyers are most likely to demand a test drive, said the survey. BMW buyers were least likely.

According to the survey, the numbers of buyers who want test drives -- listed by brand -- were:

  • Mercedes-Benz: 80 percent.

  • VW: 79 percent.

  • Opel: 72 percent.

  • Audi: 68 percent.

  • BMW: 57 percent.

    On average, the dealers surveyed followed up only in 44 percent of the test-drive cases, the study found. BMW dealers did best -- they followed up on 61 percent of the test drives.

    Mercedes dealers followed up with their customers in 53 percent of the cases, followed by Ford and VW, each with 47 percent, and Opel, with 43 percent.

    The survey found just 34 percent of Audi dealers contacted a customer who asked for a test drive.

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