I often marvel at the fact that car manufacturers don’t make more of an effort to rent new cars to potential buyers. I suppose they do, in a way: Hertz is owned by Ford, for example, and they certainly showcase the cars of Ford and its divisions (Mazda, Volvo, etc.). But you’d think that if you were a “minor” manufacturer like Smart, VW or Toyota, you’d try to figure out a way of putting your cars in people’s hands.
I’m talking about something more than a test drive. Even “take the car home for the weekend,” which seems quite common, at least if the dealer knows you (or you have another car you can leave behind). It seems to me that putting an interested, motivated potential customer behind the wheel of your car for their business trip or vacation would be an excellent opportunity to addict them to your product.
Manufacturers, it seems, do not agree with me. Witness these two email messages, received in reply to a “I’m traveling for a week in New England and want to rent one of your cars from Montreal” query email. First from Smart:
Thank you for your interest in smart. While we appreciate your interest in smart, unfortunately, we are not familiar on whether any car rental companies have the smart brand as part of their rental fleet in Canada. You may wish to do an online search of rental car companies in the Montréal area for further information. My apologies that we couldn’t provide further assistance at this time.
And then from Toyota:
Toyota Canada Inc. is not involved in the rental of Toyota vehicles and as such, we do not have a list of car rental services that have the Prius in their fleet. However, we suggest that you contact some Toyota dealerships within your area to inquire about the rental of the Prius from the dealership. As well, the dealerships may be aware of rental companies that offer the Prius in your area.
So here’s me, a potential customer who went out of his way to find your website and send you an email, a potential customer who will pay you money to evaluate your $20,000+ product. And what do you say? “Not our department.”