You can now arrange a new car test drive without ever interacting with a member of staff.

As we drive forward to autonomous vehicles, we now have autonomous test driving.

Electric car brand Tesla is expanding a pilot scheme which allows consumers to enter and test-drive its demonstrators at locations without any staff being present.

Appy customers

The updated Tesla app allows users to book a test drive, upload their driving licence and unlock a Tesla Model 3 or Model Y demonstrator for a one hour slot.

In the future, Tesla plans to have all its test drives across the UK and Ireland managed through this app.

Customers can self-schedule a test drive whenever and wherever is convenient for them from their nearest Tesla location. When their scheduled time arrives, they can simply walk up to the car, unlock it via the app and drive it.

As a start, Tesla has remote test drive locations in Perth (Scotland), Carlisle, Shannon (Ireland) and Merry Hill in the West Midlands. It is an expansion on its first unstaffed remote test drive hubs in Sweden and Perth (Scotland) earlier this year.

The test drive locations are completely remote and unstaffed.

Face free

Okay, it is not quite interaction free.

Once at the car, prospective customers phone a Tesla call centre. The staffer then uses the car’s cameras to confirm the customer’s identity. They also guide the customer through the car’s features.

After the test-drive, the driver is simply asked to return the car back to the starting spot, and to plug it back in.

Ground breaking

Tesla is generally credited with transforming the electric vehicle world by forcing the whole motor industry to change gear. The company delivered its one millionth electric vehicle (EV) in Europe, last month, just 14 years after it started making limited deliveries of its Roadster car in 2009.

The brand has surged in popularity since launching the Model 3 and Model Y. This year, the Model Y is both the best selling electric car in the UK and the best selling company car. Its class leading battery range, styling and advanced features set the pace and continue to prove highly popular with the buying. They also provided a super fast charging network around Europe and the US, often provided free to owners. However, as the competition mounts, the real threat to its future success looks most like to come from the surge in new Chinese manufacturers.  Undercutting current prices of European and US manufacturers of EVs is already causing a stir, with 2024 being regarded as a key turning point.

Calls for change

In the UK, post Brexit rules will see added premiums added to the price of EU models being sold here in the UK, as well as UK models being exported.

Despite calls from the British car manufacturing industry and even German manufacturers, a deal has yet to be negotiated between the UK government and the EU.  There are concerns that the added tax could decimate the British vehicle production.