Pleased with its effectiveness, General Motors Corp. has extended, for the second time, a 24-hour test drive program. The program will rununtil Jan. 2, 2004, according to GM spokeswoman Marcia McGee. It was due to end Aug. 26."The original idea is to get people into the cars," McGee said. "We want to be on people's consideration lists and consideration is increasing." Consideration of GM products is 50 percent higher once a customer takes home a vehicle for a test drive, she said.Since the program began in May, 257,000 test drives have been taken, resulting in about 81,000 sales. GM says 31 percent of test driveparticipants have opted to buy. That's about 10 percentage points higher than the closing rate for customers who simply walk into a dealershiplooking for a vehicle, according to the Detroit News
.The program allows qualified drivers 21 and overto take many GM vehicles home overnight for a test drive of 100 miles or less, instead of a traditional quick trip of just a few miles. GM says 75 to 80 percent of its 4,700 dealers -- representing 82 percent of the automaker's sales volume -- are participating in the program.