Chevrolet dealer Duane Paddock runs a fleet of 50 vehicles that he loans to service customers and as demos -- up from exactly zero two years ago.
His dealership is part of a huge expansion of General Motors' Courtesy Transportation Program, a bid to create better loyalty via the service lane and by getting more people to try Chevy, Buick and GMC vehicles.
Last year, GM added elements to the program to entice dealers to sign up, including more cash tied to every loaner vehicle. They get the freedom to choose the vehicles -- Texas dealers can stock pickups while San Francisco stores can load up on Volts. And GM lets dealers still apply new-vehicle incentives when they're sold after they come out of the rental fleet.
Apparently, it's working. GM says dealers representing about 90 percent of Chevrolet and Buick-GMC sales volume now operate fleets of new courtesy cars. That's up from about 20 percent of the brands' volume two years ago. (Cadillac runs a separate loaner program.)
Steve Hill, GM's U.S. vice president of sales and service, says the program is a perk for service customers and sells cars by providing test drives disguised as loaners.