Industry Insights

The Future of Test Drives | Tomorrow’s Journey

October 18, 2023
5 min

The automotive industry has always been at the forefront of innovation, and how we conduct test drives is no exception. In recent years, a wave of technological advancements and changing consumer preferences has revolutionised the test drive experience.

Test drives play a pivotal role when it comes to influencing buying decisions. They provide consumers with a first-hand experience of the vehicle they are interested in purchasing. It's that exhilarating, make-or-break instant when a potential customer gets behind the wheel, and the decision to drive away in the vehicle of their dreams hangs in the balance. Thanks to cutting-edge technologies, this crucial phase is becoming more immersive, informative, and exciting than ever before. In this blog, we'll explore the role of technology in the automotive industry and how it’s revolutionizing the test drive experience.

  1.  Contactless and Remote Test Drives

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of contactless and remote test drives. These trends are likely to continue shaping the future of the automotive industry:

  • Contactless Test Drives: Customers can schedule test drives online, complete paperwork digitally, and have the vehicle delivered to their location. This minimizes in-person contact, which many still prefer in the current environment.
  • Remote Test Drive Assistance: With the help of advanced technology and telematics, sales representatives can assist customers remotely during a test drive. They can answer questions, provide information, and even take control of certain vehicle functions if needed.
  • Extended Home Test Drives: Some companies offer extended home test drives, allowing customers to use the vehicle in their daily routines. This approach is particularly appealing for car subscription services.

The future of test drives is undoubtedly exciting, with technology and changing preferences driving innovation. Embracing these trends can give your business a competitive edge and provide customers with a more engaging and informative test drive experience.

  1.  Autonomous Test Drives

The emergence of autonomous vehicles presents a unique opportunity for the test drive experience. While fully autonomous cars may still be in the testing phase, semi-autonomous features are becoming increasingly common. Here's how this trend is impacting test drives:

  • Safety Demonstrations: Customers can experience advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) during test drives. Features like adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and automated parking are showcased to demonstrate the vehicle's safety and convenience.
  • Autonomous Test Routes: Some dealerships are developing autonomous test routes where customers can experience the vehicle's self-driving capabilities under controlled conditions. This can be particularly appealing to tech-savvy customers.

  1.  Data-Driven Personalization

Data analytics is playing an increasingly significant role in tailoring the test drive experience:

  • Customer Profiles: Businesses can use data to create detailed customer profiles, including past test drive preferences and vehicle preferences. This enables personalized recommendations for future test drives.
  • Predictive Analytics: Predictive analytics can anticipate a customer's preferences and suggest vehicles that align with their lifestyle and needs.
  • Feedback Integration: After a test drive, feedback from customers can be analyzed to continuously improve the test drive experience and identify areas of improvement.

  1.  Subscription-Driven Test Drives

In the car subscription and rental industry, subscription models are becoming more prevalent. Customers can subscribe to a variety of vehicles for a fixed monthly fee. This can allow people to experience and test drive a car for a period of their choosing for a small all-inclusive fee. Customers also get to experience first-hand how the car feels and behaves on their regular schedule and route.

  • Subscription Test Drives: Offering short-term subscriptions specifically for test drives allows customers to experience a variety of vehicles without a long-term commitment.
  • Flexible Swaps: Subscribers can swap their vehicles frequently, allowing them to test drive different models and stay up-to-date with the latest innovations.
  • Data Insights: Subscription-driven models generate valuable data on customer preferences and usage patterns, which can inform future offerings and marketing strategies.

  1.  Eco-Friendly Test Drive Initiatives

As environmental concerns grow, businesses in the automotive industry are implementing eco-friendly test drive initiatives:

  • Electric and Hybrid Fleets: Offering electric and hybrid vehicles for test drives demonstrates a commitment to sustainability. Businesses looking to buy a fleet, in particular, may appreciate the opportunity to test eco-friendly options for their corporate fleets.
  • Carbon Offsetting: Some businesses are implementing carbon offset programs for test drives. This allows customers to participate in eco-friendly initiatives, further aligning their values with your brand. Outbound Mobility is one such company working towards the awareness of carbon offsetting in the Automotive Industry by promoting Car Sharing.
  • Educational Initiatives: Providing information on eco-friendly driving habits during test drives can empower customers to reduce their carbon footprint.

  1. Virtual Reality (VR) Enhancements

of the most exciting developments in the automotive industry is the integration of virtual reality into the test drive experience. Virtual reality allows customers to explore a vehicle in a fully immersive 3D environment without leaving the showroom. Here's how it works:

  • Virtual Showrooms: Dealerships are setting up virtual showrooms equipped with VR headsets. Customers can put on the headset and instantly find themselves inside the car of their choice.
  • 360-Degree Views: VR technology provides 360-degree views of the vehicle's interior and exterior. Customers can inspect every detail, from the dashboard to the stitching on the seats.
  • Virtual Test Drives: Perhaps the most exciting aspect is the ability to take a virtual test drive. Customers can simulate driving the car on different terrains and in various weather conditions, all from the comfort of the showroom.

For OEMs and Dealerships, this technology offers the potential to showcase their entire fleet virtually. making it easier for clients looking to buy a fleet of cars as well as customers looking to buy a personal vehicle to make informed decisions without needing a physical test drive.

  1.  Augmented Reality (AR) Enhancements

While virtual reality is transforming the test drive experience, augmented reality is enhancing it in unique ways:

  • AR Vehicle Customization: Customers can use AR apps to customize the appearance of a vehicle in real-time. Want to see how the car looks in a different colour or with specific accessories? AR can show you.
  • Interactive AR Manuals: Instead of flipping through a traditional owner's manual, AR can overlay instructions and information directly onto the vehicle's dashboard. This makes it easier for customers to understand the car's features during a test drive.
  • AR Navigation Assistance: AR can provide real-time navigation guidance overlaid on the windshield. This feature ensures a smooth test drive experience and can be particularly useful for businesses that offer car rental services to tourists.

To conclude,

The future of test drives is an exciting blend of technology, sustainability, personalisation, and innovation. Whether you're serving individual consumers or business clients, staying ahead of these trends can differentiate your offerings and provide a more engaging and informative test drive experience.

The current advances in technology are allowing businesses to create a test drive experience that resonates with the evolving preferences and expectations of their customers like never before. As the automotive landscape continues to transform, remember that the test drive remains a pivotal moment in the customer's journey. It's an opportunity to forge emotional connections and build trust, setting the stage for long-term relationships and success in the automotive market.

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Rahil Gupta

Senior Marketing Manager


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