| CHICAGO, March 24
CHICAGO, March 24 General Motors Co [GM.UL]
plans to lease retail space in four U.S. cities to offer
shoppers the chance to test drive not only three Chevrolet
vehicles but those of its largest rivals, a top marketing
executive for the U.S. automaker said on Wednesday.
Under the plan, GM will offer consumers the chance to drive
the hot-selling Equinox, the large Traverse crossover and the
mid-sized Malibu sedan, Steve Tihanyi, GM's general director of
marketing services, said during a conference in Chicago.
The automaker also will give prospective customers the
opportunity to drive vehicles from rivals Ford Motor Co (F.N),
Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) and Honda Motor Co Ltd. (7267.T)
"You come in and drive any of these competitive products at
your leisure," he said. "You don't have to go running around
town to go to a bunch of dealerships."
"It fits perfectly with 'May the best car win,'" Tihanyi
said of a slogan used by GM in recent advertising. "We're going
to see how it plays out."
GM is leasing space now in free-standing, high-traffic
retail locations for the "Test Drive Studio" program, he said.
It plans to test the program in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and
Philadelphia and may expand from there, he said.
"We're trying to get it up and running by mid-spring,"
Tihanyi told Reuters, saying the timing was dependent on
leasing and preparing the right retail locations.
The idea would be to draw online shoppers at Kelley Blue
Book (www.kbb.com) and Edmunds.com with pop-up ads directing
them to the test-drive studios while also luring street traffic
in the heavy shopping areas, he said in an interview.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman; Editing by Richard Chang)