Chevrolet wants its dealers to buy more Toyotas and Hondas -- not to add to those competitors’ sales but so that Chevy can try to convince consumers, by driving the competition, that its new Cruze compact is better than the Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic.
My colleague, David Barkholz, spoke with Chevy marketer Margaret Brooks last week about the plan. The Cruze goes on sale in late September. Events and test drives are a key part of the marketing plan.
Some dealers are wondering whether Chevy plans to help dealers pay for the competitive units. The answer: No assistance. Dealers are on their own.
And why the Corolla and Civic and not the Ford Focus or Hyundai Elantra? Chevy says Toyota and Honda are the key competitors in the segment, making it a three-horse race.
I’m sure Ford would beg to differ. Its redesigned Focus, vastly changed from the outgoing generation, will hit the market early next year. The Focus already outsells the Chevrolet Cobalt, predecessor to the Cruze. Maybe Chevy is trying to state its case before Ford gets its new entry to market.
What I’m wondering: How well do competitive test drives work at the dealership level? Some readers commenting on our stories last week were skeptics. One said it might work out if you happen to also have a Toyota or Honda dealership and could keep the sale within the family.
Rather than keeping Civics and Corollas on the lot all the time, another reader suggested that dealerships offer competitive test drives during isolated weekend events. Staging it as a special promotion with a more controlled atmosphere could help reinforce Chevy’s message about the Cruze.
For dealers out there who have staged competitive test drives, how have they worked for you?