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by Tim Beissmann

A study of new car buyers in the US has found more than one in 10 does not bother taking a vehicle for a test drive before purchasing it.

A report by Detroit Free Press quotes the results of the Maritz Research survey, which found 11.4 per cent of owners of a 2012 model year vehicle bought their car without even taking it for a spin.

The finding is linked to an uplift in the number of new car shoppers researching vehicles online, which increased to roughly four in five for owners of 2012 model year vehicles.

Those who do still go for test drives at dealerships are also more likely than ever to schedule it over the internet, with the percentage of online bookings increasing from 7.4 per cent in 2010 to 9.5 per cent in 2012.

The study was based on the responses of more than 80,000 new car buyers and is a disturbing trend for new car salespeople and dealerships, which largely rely on test drives and face-to-face interactions with shoppers to spruik their vehicles over those of competitors and upsell customers to more expensive models.

Some owners who did not take a test drive said they updated to the latest version of their current vehicle and felt comfortable that the new one would perform satisfactorily, while others identified a hatred for car salesmen as their motivation to avoid dealerships.

Vice president of strategic consulting for Maritz Research Chris Travell told Detroit Free Press he found the results of the study “quite fascinating and a little baffling”.

“As cliché as perhaps it sounds, there’s that new car smell that needs to be experienced first-hand and cannot be experienced over the internet,” Travell said.




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