Think of it as an extended test drive.

General Motors is looking to spur sales of its Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in hybrid in California by loaning hundreds of Southern California drivers Volts for as long as a week, Green Car Reports said, citing GM representative Shad Balch.

Under GM's "Cars to People" program, the automaker has loaned almost 300 people Volts over the past few months, and will likely loan the cars to a few hundred more by the end of the year, according to the website. Balch told Green Car Reports that the challenge behind simply explaining the cars' technology to potential customers was the impetus behind the program, and that the Volt "sells itself" to potential buyers.

The program represents yet another way GM's trying to boost sales in the most populous U.S. state. GM last month started deliveries of 2012 Volts, which are notable because they're eligible for solo-driving in California's high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes. California Volt buyers are also eligible for a $1,500 rebate from the state, on top of the federal tax credit worth up to $7,500. Last month, GM also began offering so-called "Quad $0" lease program on Volts made in 2011, in which customers could lease the vehicles without a down payment, security deposit, first month's payment or cash upon sale. Those cars aren't eligible to be driven solo in California's HOV lanes.

Meanwhile, GM this week began a five-week shut-down of Volt production in an attempt to thin out dealer inventory. While GM was about 2,400 units short of its goal to sell 10,000 Volts in 2011, Volt sales showed signs of life last month, moving 1,023 units, up from 603 vehicles sold in January.


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