I live in the suburbs so having a car is part of my daily life. I sometimes drive the car to the train station or drive it into Manhattan, depending on what the schedule of the day and evening is.
Years ago, I was in Saint Martin with my wife and we rented an SUV. When the rental agency pulled the car around, it was a Hyundai and I got a bit nervous. I’d not heard much positive around Hyundai’s but after a week on the island, I couldn’t speak more highly of the specific Hyundai we rented. It handled the off road segments great and all around was a solid SUV. I’d consider purchasing or leasing it.
About two weeks ago, I was on a West Coast business trip and thru Hertz, rented a car that I would probably never go and purchase, but had a good experience with it. I realized that the only way I really get exposed to automobiles to drive is through renting cars on business trips and vacations or my neighbors and friends exposing me to their vehicles. Seems pretty limited to me.
The card discovery process needs innovation. The are only a few discovery opportunities for cars: listen to friends talk, buy magazines or visit sites like Edmunds, go to trade shows, or to visit many car dealerships. When visiting a car dealership, you can schedule a test drive but those last 15 minutes and generally are setup to be a positive experience.
I cannot believe there are not more chances to drive different cars and for a longer period of time. Few if any dealerships are promoting the all-day or weekend test drive which you’d think would be a no brainer to the serious potential car leasor/buyer. Why doesn’t an automotive brand put drive centers in major towns so more people can test out the cars in real-life situations? If driving the car is so great, it makes people want to buy it, then get the car into more hands for trial. Makes sense to me. People might even pay for it.
Last winter, I was up in Manchester, VT and due to the thin cover of snow, I didn’t ski, but went to the Land Rover Experience Driving School. I paid money to go in a Land Rover (and Range Rover) for a morning of off-road driving. I not only got exposed to the SUV, but learned some skills and maneuvers that could come in handy on future trips to snowy places. This was a great example of using an experience to drive evangelism.
There needs to be a solution to help people discover the right cars for them and a solution for people to try cars longer than just the 15 minute test drive. Is anyone doing this right?