How to test a car prototype
Recently, Testpoint selected the participants for a very particular market research, a Car Clinic that aimed to evaluate the prototype of a new high-end car. The car was German-made, so test participants travelled to Germany to see the prototype.
If we think that the Car Clinic is a specialized workshop or a sort of diagnostic test, or a test to be carried out on cars, we are quite far from the truth: the Car Clinic is in fact a very particular
market research technique concerning the car or parts of it that can be used to evaluate a prototype car during the design phase.
Testpoint has recently carried out a Car Clinic to evaluate the prototype of a famous German car company that is preparing a very high-end, elegant, functional and highly technological car, intended for enthusiasts of high-performance cars.
The first step was to recruit the respondents: people passionate about high-end cars and who already owned a car comparable to the prototype to be evaluated.
Being the prototype of a very important and expensive car, and since the research was aimed not only at the Italian market but also at other European nations, the test was carried out at the place of production, so the participants left for Germany.
For the test a large space was used in which it was possible to place five cars side by side – the prototype and four other cars of the same range but produced by competitors car manufacturers. It was a secure and guarded place, with CCTV cameras, alarm system, metal detectors etc.
It was then necessary to make sure – as it was a prototype – that no photos were taken, so … no cell phones with which to send photos to relatives or friends or even to other companies!
Moreover, the brands of all the tested cars were duly covered so that respondents were not influenced by the brand in their assessments.
How the Car clinic was carried out
Let’s ask one of the participants to tell us about his experience. This is Marcello, 40, from Milan, manager of an important multinational company:
“For me, cars have always been a passion. Furthermore, my job forces me to move frequently so I need a powerful but comfortable and safe car, equipped with all the most modern technologies. I gladly accepted to participate in this Car Clinic. Arrived in Germany, together with the others I examined the prototype comparing it with four other models already on the market by other car manufacturers. This phase lasted about an hour, an interviewer took care of each of us, asking us to examine in detail all the components of the prototype comparing them with those of the other cars, from the body line, to the seats, to the headlights, to the dashboard, to safety equipment. In a second phase, we were seated in a room where we were also shown illustrative and advertising material in preparation for this new car model and we were asked to complete an evaluation questionnaire.
It was a really interesting experience and I am pleased to have been able to collaborate to create a new car model by expressing my opinions. ”