The Big 3 are using video-on-demand technology to create virtual showrooms that will display their vehicles to cable TV viewers.
The companies are subscribers to Driver TV, an on-demand channel that launches this month. Video on demand enables viewers to order TV shows, movies or other programming directly to their sets.
Driver TV's ultimate goal is to allow prospective buyers to view every new vehicle model. To start, the channel is featuring 15 top-selling cars and trucks. By year end, Driver TV executives hope to display 100 models.
Digital cable subscribers to the channel will be able to index vehicles by category. Later, they'll be able to link to dealers via the Internet for more information.
Ford Division is showcasing its new Fusion mid-sized sedan and Explorer SUV on Driver TV.
"There is a convergence between (video on demand) and the Web, and Ford is posed to capitalize on this convergence," a Ford spokesperson says.
General Motors plans to show 22 models on the channel. The company is highlighting its big SUVs, such as the Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon Denali and Cadillac Escalade.
Video on demand "is a growing segment of the media space," a GM spokeswoman says. "It's also a pull mechanism, meaning that it is something consumers want. GM wants to participate in this space from the get-go and speak directly to our customers."
Automakers and Driver TV declined to disclose the car companies' subscription fees for the channel. Driver TV is creating programming for the channel on the West Coast with the companies' help.
Driver TV CEO Jan Renner says the company has commitments from three large cable TV operators -- Comcast, Time Warner and Cox -- to offer the channel to 15 million households.