Solo test drives approved to keep car buyers safe

DVLA confirms that potential car buyers can test cars alone, so long as trade plates and insurance are in place...

The test drive

Potential car buyers will be able to test drive cars they are considering purchasing alone and fully socially distanced, following a clarification in regulations from the DVLA.

However, dealerships and buyers have been warned to ensure that an up-to-date set of trade plates is fixed to the car prior to the journey beginning, and that the retailer has adequate insurance in place.

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.”

3. Take it for a test drive

The announcement follows last week’s news that dealerships are allowed to sell cars online and deliver them direct to buyers if all social distancing rules are followed.

However, delivery is proving complicated for many large retailers due to the high costs and complicated social distancing processes involved.

Instead, there are also reports Government is preparing to allow non-essential businesses - including car dealerships - to conduct purchased car handovers at their premises.

Again, this would only be given the green light if strict distancing regulations are followed - something retailers believe is comfortably achievable. If the latter is approved, it is seen by many in the industry as the key for large scale car selling to resume in the coming weeks.

Car sales are critical to the UK’s economy, with the National Association of Franchised Dealers (NFDA) estimating that UK automotive retail generates turnover of around £200bn a year. Around 590,000 people are employed across all of the automotive retail sector. A further 168,000 are employed directly in the UK's car manufacturing sector.

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