General Motors is turning its employees into salespeople.
To boost vehicles sales, GM employees were sent two discount certificates they can give to anyone. Certificates holders get the same vehicle discount that GM offers to employees of supplier companies.
But a string is attached to the certificates: Dealerships are not required to sell or lease vehicles at the discount price. The program, which started May 1, expires June 30.
GM's U.S. sales slipped 8.6 percent to 1,406,961 units for the January-April period. Market share dropped to 27.2 percent compared with 28.6 percent a year ago.
GM spokeswoman Deborah Silverman says that approximately 350,000 employees received a letter explaining the program and the certificates.
The certificates can be used to purchase nearly any 2002, 2003 and 2004 new vehicle or demonstrator. Excluded are Chevrolet and GMC medium-duty trucks as well as Saab cars.
While the program includes popular makes such as the Chevrolet Corvette, Hummer H2 and the recently introduced 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix, Silverman says dealerships may decide not to sell a particular vehicle for the discounted price.
"Dealers are not obligated to accept those certificates for vehicles that are so hot that they can sell them at a different price," she says.
For example, in portions of Florida, the 2003 Chevrolet Silverado SS is being sold at sticker price or above.
The certificate holder may buy a vehicle for 4 percent over the employee price. Any incentives reduce the price further. The GM employee discount for Chevrolet vehicles ranges from
approximately 8 percent to 15.5 percent of the sticker price, depending on the vehicle, a Detroit area dealer says.
Meanwhile, the automaker has altered its overnight test-drive program. Participating dealerships will receive $500 for each eligible vehicle sold or leased as a conquest sale. Previously, GM offered no money.
Also, a buyer is no longer obligated to trade in a non-GM vehicle.
Buyers merely need to own a non-GM vehicle for the dealer to receive the cash.
That program ends July 31.