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General Motors feels it has a lineup stuffed with vastly improved products and it wants to get as many customers behind the wheel of a new Chevy, Cadillac, GMC or Buick to prove its point. Anyone can head over to the local dealership for a test drive, but the General is reportedly looking for even more ways to get you to evaluate a new GM product, including test drives right at your local auto show.

The Detroit News reports that GM is working with officials from COBO and the city of Detroit to set up a driving route so that consumers can test the automaker's products on-site. Vehicles likely be featured include new products such as the 2010 Buick LaCrosse, Chevy Equinox, GMC Terrain and Cadillac SRX. The test drive area at COBO is reportedly part of GM's totally revamped 85,000 sq ft exhibit space, which includes more interactive displays and plenty of areas to show off new technology like direct injection and the Voltec system. Obviously, the General needed to make some major changes, since it won't need displays for Pontiac, Saab and Saturn in 2010.

Customer test drives were piloted at the New England Auto Show earlier this year, where Cadillac reportedly put over 1,400 people behind the wheel. GM is also looking to set up drives at several other major shows, including Chicago in February, but the biggest push will take place in major metropolitan areas on the east and west coasts, where GM product consideration is weakest.

Auto show test drives make perfect sense, considering that millions of showgoers attend these events every year. People who pay $12 to look at cars in a crammed and crowded convention center are likely the exact same people to get excited about new products. Why not give them seat time and let the word-of-mouth flow?

[Source: The Detroit News]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I recently test drove a new CTS. It drove much better than the Lincoln MK-whatever the Fusion clone is called this week. But they both drove like a stuck pig compared to the Mercedes C-class.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Volvo had a display last year at the LA Auto Show where you can drive the XC60 and attempt to "crash" into a dummy car to test out the safety system.

      This year at the LA Auto Show, Ford and Toyota had booths where you can drive some of their cars, I was fortunate to drive a Euro Spec Ford Fiesta, a 2010 Ford Taurus SHO, a 2011 4 Runner, and 2010 Prius. It's a better experience to get to know the products from companies.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah, this isn't entirely new. At the L.A. autoshow Ford allowed show-goers to test drive their products on the open streets of downtown L.A. There was a designated route filled will construction zones and traffic, but there were also a few curves and straightaways to really show off the product. No coned off courses necessary. I got the chance to test drive a lime green Euro-spec Fiesta and a Fusion Hybrid.

        Ford also offered up the opportunity to play with their parallel parking parking feature, though I didn't try it out. This new hands on approach is a great idea. Thanks to both Ford and Mr. Clarkson, I now REALLY REALLY want a Fiesta.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It'll be a swell idea until the first numbskull tries to do a burnout in a Terrain... I'm just sayin'.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wait, didn't they do this last year in the basement of Cobo?
      • 5 Years Ago
      The test drive is a good idea. I wish GM luck. Unfortunately it may also make some testers change their minds about getting a LaCrosse. I bought one but the dealer bought it back to keep me happy. The driver's seat was just too narrow for me although it fit my wife and son just fine. Apparently the seats were not designed for men with an ample but not huge derrier. Interestingly I recently spoke with a Chrysler employee who knew what my problem was before I told him the whole story. GM wants to seel Buick to a different demographic but they have lost me in the process.

      • 5 Years Ago
      GM has done this during the South Florida International Auto Show the last 2 years I want to say. The first year they did it was during the introduction of the CTS. Since then Kia got into the mix and so did Ford.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Given how badly both Cobo & Detroit need GM's money, I can see this being a no-brainer to go forward.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I recall Volvo allowed people to test drive the XC60 automatic stop system at the New York auto show earlier this year outside the Javits Center.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Same thing with Jeep allowing customers to try the obstacle course, and Lexus let people rev up the car outside.
      • 5 Years Ago
      GM has been doing this at the Orlando Auto Show for several years. I just assumed they did it at all the others.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think being able to test drive a car at an auto show is a great idea. I have worked a couple auto shows, because i'm a car salesmen. Usually it sucks, you end up creating more questions than you can answer for people. Cause like if they show a car about to be released they rope it off. Even I cant open the doors, but if I could have cars to open and walk around and demonstrate like I do on the lot. With availability to even test drive. I think it would be a lot more productive for me to attend auto shows. I think more manufactures should adapt this idea.

      • 5 Years Ago
      wow, I thought they'd have that in the States already..I feel they're mostly quicker on innovative marketing and focusing on the customer your side of the Atlantic.. Car show test drives have been around in Germany for I don't know how long.. Touareg V10 TDI R50s and stuff, good fun
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is actually one of those rare ideas that might work.
      I used to go to the Auto show every year and then I got tired of going in the crappy weather and having to deal with the parking.
      We live in freaking Michigan, you would think someone would figure out to have the show at some point of the year when it is not ice cold outside and snowing.
      Midland has a nice car show every year in the summer and it is free.

      I remember when the Auto show was $5 to get in.
      I still think it should be.
      You are asking me to come and look at your products and buy them and then you charge me to come look at them also....
      Unfortunately because of the riff raff that come to the shows because of its location I kind of understand why they need to charge money.
      It is always fun waiting to see a car and some ghetto a-hole is sitting in the car for 10 minutes oblivious that other people want to see it also...
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Riff Raff", "Ghetto A-hole" , etc., really Dude, really?

        What world do you live in?
        • 5 Years Ago

        "We live in freaking Michigan"

        He's obviously been to NAIAS before, and if you've been through the immediate area around Cobo, you'd understand.
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