| CARCHEX Research Center

What Is A Virtual Test Drive?

The term “virtual test drive” conjures up all kinds of possibilities. Is there really such a thing? Many different types of virtual test drives exist, but most aren’t what you think they are. Let’s find out more.

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Many auto manufacturers have produced very high quality videos that take potential buyers for a “virtual test drive.” While these videos are packed with information and great shots of the car, you don’t really get to do any driving. Other than watching, there’s no real interaction at all. But dealerships still call these “virtual test drives.”

These videos might be useful for those comparing vehicles. They give you a very in-depth look at design and features of various models.  

Virtual Test Drive App

BMW provides a test drive app to promote its i3 electric car. This free app puts you in the driver’s seat of an action movie where the i3 is the star. When you tilt your device you can look all around the inside of the i3 while you race to save the world.

Again, this isn’t a true driving experience, but it is quite entertaining. Here’s the official the BMW i3 virtual test drive app trailer.

Headset Experience

Among all the offerings, Audi appears to come closest to a true virtual test drive. Teaming up with Samsung, the German manufacturer has developed a whole range of technology for potential buyers. You can check out different colors, trim, and even hear the engine. The programming allows for up to 120 million different configurations to be sampled.

The most advanced feature is the VR headsets that allow users to experience what it’s like to be inside the car. Here’s the official Audi/Samsung video describing this new initiative.

Does A True Virtual Test Drive Exist?

True virtual test drives, where some kind of video technology lets you “drive” an actual car for sale, has yet to be developed. If you search around, you’ll more than likely encounter something described above instead. As technology advances, we might see true virtual test drives in the future. This might even trickle down to the used car market.

Many online car dealerships offer images of the cars for sale, and a few might even go so far as showing video. This isn’t quite a virtual test drive, and one should not trust online images alone when making a car buying decision.

You might think that nothing beats looking at the car yourself – but think again. Unless you have a well-trained eye, you are likely to miss some defects. A qualified car inspector can pick up a lot of details, such as signs of water damage, that less experienced eyes might overlook.

Get a qualified pre-purchase car inspection on any vehicle before you buy. Order a qualified vehicle inspection today.

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