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Ford, GM Paying for Test Drives

Posted: Apr 16, 2009 10:06 a.m.

Car sales are so slow that some dealers are now offering $50 to anyone who test drives a car. The deal, at the moment, applies only in a very limited area.

Motor Trend explains, "If you live in the Northeast and haven't dropped by the New York Auto Show yet, you might want to make a point to stop by before it closes on Sunday. When you're there, stop by Ford and GM's booths and pick up a $50 gift card, redeemable when you test drive a Ford or GM product at an area dealership."

Kicking Tires adds, "Ford's gift card can be spent anywhere, while GM's is good only for food via restaurants.com." KT thinks the move won't pay off. "If you weren't interested in the brands before," they write, "It's unlikely $50 will sway you, especially if you have to spend it at a few select restaurants."

But, the AP comments, "the $50 offer with no purchase necessary shows that the companies are going to great lengths to attract buyers while auto sales are near the lowest level in more than a quarter-century."

The offer is just the latest in a string of new incentives. The Wall Street Journal notes, "Late last month, both GM and Ford outlined new incentive plans that go beyond the cash rebates and financing deals they have traditionally offered. Ford is offering 0% financing through June 1 and will cover payments for up to 12 months on any new Ford, Lincoln or Mercury vehicle if customers lose their jobs. Meanwhile, GM will offer payment protection for the first 24 months of ownership. If a buyer loses his income, the company will make up to nine months' worth of payments for up to $500 a month. "

If you're in the market for a new car, check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars as well as this month's best car deals.