More than a fifth of new car buyers have found it hard to arrange all-important test drives

This is the latest report in a series of weekly updates for industry colleagues from Rachael Prasher, managing director of What Car? and Haymarket Automotive. Quoted poll data is from more than 1300 whatcar.com users.

More than a fifth of in-market buyers told What Car? that they are finding it hard to organise test drives, due to a lack of vehicle availability or because waiting lists are too long.

As the microchip shortage continues to impact vehicle stock levels, lead times and production output, we surveyed more than 1300 in-market buyers to understand the effect this is having on test drives.

Of the 1353 in-market buyers surveyed, 21% said they had already got in touch with a dealer about a test drive, with 21% of those respondents stating that they are finding it hard to organise one due to a lack of vehicle availability or because the waiting lists are too long.

The chance to test drive a vehicle is crucial for buyers; 58% told us they would not buy their next car without taking one. Just 5% of respondents were comfortable buying a car outright without a test drive.

The research findings also suggest that dealers need to be proactive, with 69% of buyers stating that they would be inclined to accept a test drive of a car they’ve previously shown interest in, if a dealer contacted them directly.

Despite the supply issues, demand in the market remains strong with 35% of all in-market buyers telling us that they are looking to purchase a vehicle in the next four weeks, while 29% are set to buy within one to three months. This should ensure steady levels of demand towards the end of the year.

More than half (59%) expect to have their next car delivered within eight weeks of placing an order, with 41% switching to a vehicle from another maker if their delivery time expectations cannot be met.

Despite the difficulties surrounding the microchip shortage, the majority of buyers are not willing to take shortcuts when purchasing a vehicle, making it important for dealers to continue trying to accommodate test drive requests.