Currently reading: DVLA approves solo test drives for car buyers to maintain social distancing
But car dealers warned to ensure they have up-to-date trade plates and adequate insurance in place before letting prospective buyers out
Jim Holder
News
2 mins read
30 April 2020

The DVLA has confirmed that potential car buyers will be allowed to undertake solo test drives to ensure social distancing, in another step that indicates authorities are preparing to kick-start car sales as part of an effort to stimulate the economy as the coronavirus lockdown eases.

In order for the test drives to happen, the selling dealer must use registered trade plates and have full insurance in place. If so, the potential buyer will be allowed to drive the car without a dealer representative in the car.

A DVLA statement said: “A prospective purchaser may test drive a vehicle on trade plates, without the trader licence holder being present.

“Trade plates are the property of the secretary of state and motor traders should take all precautions to ensure that trade plates are not stolen.”

However, the move has already raised concerns, with Jem Emirali, from motor trade insurance brokers Aston Lark, telling Car Dealer Magazine: “It is highly unlikely motor trade insurance policies will offer this as standard, so dealers need to speak to their broker.

“Adding this on would be an extension to their policy and is usually calculated as a percentage of their turnover – so it could be a few hundred or a few thousand pounds.”

The announcement follows last week’s news that dealerships are allowed to sell cars online and deliver them to buyers, so long as all social distancing rules are followed. There are also reports that the government is preparing to allow non-essential businesses - such as car dealerships - to conduct purchased car handovers at their premises, so long as strict distancing regulations are followed. If the latter is allowed, it is seen by many in the industry as the key for large-scale car selling to resume.

The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) estimates that the UK’s automotive retail businesses are responsible for turnover of around £200 billion a year, with £150bn of that coming from car sales. Franchised dealers employ around 174,000 people in the UK, with around 590,000 employed across all automotive retail.

weekly car buyer survey by What Car? revealed this month that one in five people researching cars on its website was looking to buy as soon as the lockdown ended.

READ MORE

Coronavirus: What motorists need to know 

Coronavirus and the car world: Audi, Daimlerto restart production 

Vauxhall boss: coronavirus will change car buying for good

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8

30 April 2020

Been on several test drives and had the dealer wittering on about the cup holders etc which distracted me from coming to a conclusion on whether the it's the right car or not.  Hopefully  longer test drives will be more accessible too! 

30 April 2020

 My partner and I have had a few test drives without a Garage representative present, it's more th3 honestly of the customer not to an overly long test drive, plus, will the small insurance fee they ask go up because of this "solo" test drive?

30 April 2020

My last 3 cars I've test-driven alone (and however far I want to drive within reason, not their supermarket car park route). Didn't realise this needed to be a newly approved thing?! Dealers need to respond to changing habits quickly - things are not going to "just return to how they were before" after this pandemic. 

30 April 2020

I have test driven several car recently, usually at 2am when the roads are quiet. I don't need any contact with the owner so covid safe, I have an aerial gizmo box I just hold it near their front door at night and the car opens and starts. Its nice to be able to test the car for a few days.

30 April 2020
I've always preferred solo test drives, however my brother took a car out for a test drive and the salesman insisted on coming along, good job he did as whilst waiting on a narrow road for a land rover to pass, the landy took out the whole side of the car as it didn't slow down or move over enough. That would have been a nightmare to explain if the salesman hadn't been there. The Landover didn't stop either, luckily the salesman recognised it and the owner as the sales place was in a small village.

1 May 2020

Next month - solo dealer test drive thefts up 765%....

1 May 2020

 I've always wondered this, if you prang the car you've got on loan for whatever period, what are you liable for?, no jokes and derisory remarks please, I just want to know, thank you.

1 May 2020

 I've always wondered this, if you prang the car you've got on loan for whatever period, what are you liable for?, no jokes and derisory remarks please, I just want to know, thank you.

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