DETROIT -- General Motors' overnight test-drive program for auto shoppers could pump up GM sales in two ways.
The program, which began Tuesday, April 15, is aimed at getting non-GM owners to sample GM vehicles in overnight test drives. But it also will put 40,000 vehicles into demo fleets at GM dealerships between now and July 31, when the program ends.
Dealers will have to order additional vehicles during the program to field a full lineup of demos.
GM is requiring participating dealers to have demos on hand for vehicles included in the program and is offering dealers $1,000 discounts per demo, dealers say.
Dealers are required to have two fleets of demos, one for the first month and the other for the remainder of the program. "My impression is that we're going to help fill the order bank for the summer," says a dealer who declined to be identified.
GM spokeswoman Marcia McGee says that while both waves of the demo fleet will total 40,000 vehicles, new sales to dealers will be less than that. Dealers can put cars already on their lots into demo service, she says. How dealers dispose of the cars is their prerogative, she adds.
Dealer Ed Levy of Golling Pontiac-GMC in Lake Orion, Mich., says most of the demos probably will have little mileage by the end of the program. They most likely will be sold at retail as new demo vehicles at a discount, he says.
McGee says 2,500 dealerships have signed up for the program. The signup deadline has been extended from Tuesday, April 22, to Monday, April 28.