• Mar 12, 2010
A[nother] different kind of car company. A[nother] different kind of car. Apparently, as it once did with its Saturn division, General Motors is again fiddling with the tried-and-true dealership sales model by creating two separate new test programs that would potentially offer a low-pressure car buying environment.

One of them, a so-called Test Drive Studio, would be a "permanent or semi-permanent, minimally branded, brick-and-mortar" facility that would first appear in Chevrolet-centric areas such as Miami, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Included amongst the newfangled features would be test drives in the Chevy Malibu, Traverse and Equinox, followed by their main competition. "May the Best Car Win," indeed.

According to Steve Tihanyi, general director for marketing services, alliances and branded entertainment, "It's a non-threatening environment. It's not pressure-filled; you can drive all the right competitive products against the [vehicles]. If you take Malibu as an example, we will also have vehicles like Camry, Accord, Ford Fusion, or Taurus, so you get a really good cluster of vehicles to experience at your own pace."

Also new will be a competitive test-drive program that will run concurrently with auto shows in 30 markets all around the United States. "One thing we know about auto shows is a lot of people who come will be in market in zero to 12 months," says Tihanyi.

To go along with the new dealership test model, GM will start a digital marketing campaign in each of the four aforementioned test markets, targeting buyers currently shopping for vehicles in GM's competitive markets. Says Tihanyi, "So, hypothetically, if you are on Edmunds.com and shopping a Camry, we are going to offer up an opportunity to come to the Test Drive Studio in that market to compare everything you have in your shopping set right now. Our feeling is you may have not had the Malibu in your consideration set, but if you try it, you will."

[Source: Marketing Daily | Image: Scott Olson/Getty]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 51 Comments
      Denis Falcon
      • 4 Years Ago
      The old "Chevy vs Ford" argument is slowly emerging as the primary issue to American car buyers. Chrysler products always took 3rd place among them, and still do. What's good about this is? It is painfully clear to the Jap manufacturers that their cars are no longer superior in quality, build, warranty, or pricing, and certainly lagging BIGTIME in performance, AND durability! How may "old" Toyotas or Hondas do you see still on the road? Not many as compared to older American cars and trucks.
      kwikfix91
      • 4 Years Ago
      driving gm for 35 years, no problems. buy american!!
      kwikfix91
      • 4 Years Ago
      gm will and is paying back for the bailout and the unions were the problem butt--i bought a new cts its the best car ive driven, daughter has a g6 and it rides great and has been very dependable and safe, my son has a 03 cts 140k no problems.i have a 99 vette sweet , fast and reliable. my work jeep is ok too 80 k few problems. i would not park that forien junk in my driveway nor disrespect my country like all you other fools. if you stand by america it will get stronger.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Good for them, GM has some of the best cars out right now, The Malibu is a strong contender for sure. VERY nice car for the price tag.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Not only have I been in a Chevy dealership lately, I have been to an auto show lately. I have sat in just about every make and model. With the exception of premium brands, GM makes the second best domestic vehicle in every segment. That means that in any given segment, the best they are is fourth place.
        • 4 Years Ago
        nope not at all, have you been in a GM dealership in a while?

        you are only fooling yourself if you think they don't build a nice car.

        • 4 Years Ago
        You could not drag me into my local GM dealerships. They are truly horrible and not up to the level of quality of the cars they sell. Maybe one day I will have a problem with my Honda and maybe one day the dealership will not meet my expectations. Then maybe I will drive an hour to a GM dealership I like. I hope GM succeeds and eventually sells enough stock to payback the treasury, but I doubt I will be inclined to help.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Won't buy a car from a government motors.

      Toyota hired Chris Santucci out of NHTSA after he made a ruling in Toyota's favor that saved them millions avoiding a recall.

      On March 2 of this year Toyota anounced they were hiring Rodney Slater, the former Secretary of Transportation under Bill Clinton.

      So who is the "Government Motors"? Looks like it's Toyota from the government officals they hire.

      And all of that hiring so they can keep dangerous cars on the roads and money in their pocket.
      • 4 Years Ago
      My father-in-law worked for GM years ago, then did consulting work later on. He thought one of Roger Smith's dumb ideas was starting Saturn. GM would have done better to:

      a) take the money spent on developing the SL and SC lines and spend them to make the Cavalier and Sunbird better than what the Japanese were selling, and

      b) take the Saturn model of dealership sales and make that the standard for make from Chevy through Cadillac. After all, the two main reasons for people to hate buying cars are price and car salesmen. For people who have money, car salesmen is probably the number one reason why they put off buying a new car.

      Now, it is interesting that GM is willing to let customers test drive the competition's vehicles. When I was buying a GM mid-size car in the late 90s, a Pontiac salesman started to rip on the supposed problems of the Olds Intrigue, trying to get me to buy a Grand Prix.

      Huh? If the Intrigue had problems, then the Grand Prix probably had the same problems, since they were built from the same platform, had the same engine and transmission, and were both built in Kansas City, KS.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Color me skeptical that unless this a joint venture between dealerships that the Camry,Accord, and Fusion that GM gives me to test will be in the same shape as the ones at the Toyota,Honda, and Ford dealerships.

      "Listen to the way that trim rattles and look at these gaps, which I assure you were in no way shape or form made by one of our mechanic's pry bars"
        • 4 Years Ago
        Though admittedly it's not like the Camry is the pinnacle of fit and finish these days.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Why would anyone have to resort to such low-browed tactics when GM's cars are obviously superior to any offering by Toyota? If anything, with their reputation in tatters, it would be Toyota (given their track record of cover-ups and deceit), that would have to decontent the wares of their competition to bring them down to Toyota levels.
      • 4 Years Ago
      For more information, check out www.testdrivestudio.com or see them on facebook.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The current dealer model is broken so why not try something different. Pair test drive locations with internet buying services. Some people enjoy haggling over the final dollar and the current model suits that need, but most want a fair deal from a location that will provide good after sale service that's convenient.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Didn't they do this already last year with the Accord, Camry and Malibu? And it really didn't work then and I doubt it will work now.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Chevrolet-centric areas such as Miami"

      I laughed at this! Most of the domestic vehicles on the road in Miami are rental/fleet vehicles. People around here buy Euro cars and Jap cars. Now drive 60 min north and your in another part of Florida where domesic brands do dominate.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I test drove an Equinox at Hubler Chevy this week. Horrible high-pressure sales.

      That got me thinking that what we really need is a test-drive 'store' where any and all cars are offered for test drives and have NO dealer association whatsoever.

      The Hyundai dealer offered to let me take a new Tucson to test drive for a day or a week or so he said. When I lived in Chicago, those dealers let people take cars for a weekend or longer in a heartbeat. I knew a guy that tested a truck for THREE MONTHS.

      So, yeah, I'd rather have a test-drive facility and then a web-based order kiosk. No salesmen at all.

      Oh, and I am a FORMER auto dealer employee, too. (GMC trucks, Jeep, Buick Pontiac)
        • 4 Years Ago
        Great idea. Hate the whole salesman experience, but they need to eat too.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I am totally with you. I also worked at a dealer, but it was a Saturn dealer.

        I have one Saturn and a truck I bought from a salesperson who was a family friend, but has since left the biz. I dread the day I need to go back and buy a new car.

        I usually know more about the car than the sales guy, so they can just shut up and give me a good price. A vending machine can do that.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Three month test drive, really? People seriously need that kind of time to decide if the like or even want a vehicle? I know what I want before I even go shop, so really I don't shop I just go get it. I know that's not realistic to expect of most people, but any test drive over an hour, or even over night is not going to convince someone that's undecided. All it does is put a bunch of miles and wear and tear on a car that might make it less desirable for the next person.
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