General Motors officials have put out a request to the automaker's 3,000 Chevrolet dealerships, asking them to have Toyota and Honda vehicles on hand—not just for display, but for back-to-back test-drive comparisons with the Chevrolet Cruze.
According to AutoWeek
, citing Chevrolet small-car marketing director Margaret Brooks, the company is asking its dealerships to stock those competing models.
That might sound a little unusual, and it is. The company is so confident in its new 2011 Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan that it believes that being able to compare it, onsite, with rivals will help them sell more vehicles.
We all know that old habits die hard. So when a shopper—especially one in, say, the import-friendly West Coast region—goes comparison shopping for compact sedans, it wouldn't be so surprising to see that the Toyota and Honda products get painted with a little more of a halo than those from Chevrolet.
The strategy might also help in other ways. For instance, Brooks recently agreed that there are young buyers for whom Chevrolet isn't even on the radar. "It's like we're starting over," she said.
Chevrolet now has a new small-car strategy
in place; in addition to the new Cruze and Volt, a more substantial, sporty replacement for the Aveo will arrive in about a year, as well as a basic, economical Chevrolet Spark hatchback within the next year.
Chevrolet has been presenting the Cruze to reporters and auto critics with the Civic and Corolla available for test-drives and comparisons. Although Chevrolet hasn't yet released any demonstration versions of the base 1.8-liter Cruze, the press—including us here at The Car Connection—have given the Cruze strong ratings for interior space, ride quality, and refinement, as well as value for the money. Base prices for the Cruze will range from $16,995 to $22,695, including destination.
The strategy, of bringing the competition in, worked for Ford a few years ago, when the Dearborn automaker staged comparison events around the country, allowing in-market shoppers as well as others to drive the Fusion next to its rivals, like the Camry and Accord.