Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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After-Hours Test Drives

For When You Want to Test Drive, But They're Closed
  [vote for,

Sometimes, you see cars you want to try out, but it's nighttime and the dealership is closed. 'Oh well, we can just take a 50-mile drive out here first thing tomorrow'. Really? Do you really want to waste all that time and gas just to try a car out? What if they had a 24 hour test driving service?

All it would take is this:

1. Leave the keys to all the cars people would want to test drive in a carousel-type machine that can handle them. Should probably be fairly resistant to tampering, maybe.

2. Install GPS trackers in those same cars, in a secret place, extremely difficult to remove, with the VIN, make and model info entered into the chip within. If it is tampered with or removed by unauthorized persons, it immediately tells its position, the car info, etc., to the police, who receive the data by means of a special but inexpensive device at the station.

3. Install a similar receiver at the dealership. The tester is allowed to go a certain distance from the dealership; when he approaches the limit, a voice from a loudspeaker warns him to turn around and head back. If he doesn't comply within a certain amount of time, the 'car stolen' alarm goes off, telling the police and the thief.

4. Put a credit card swiper near the main door of the dealership's office. The test driver authorizes a deposit to be withdrawn, then tells the machine which car he wants to drive, and receives a key, which must also be returned within a specified amount of time. Then he drives the car. Et cetera.

This would make test drives more convenient for those who rarely go to town in the daytime, or found a great car in a place they seldom visit.

galukalock, Mar 15 2003

SF Car Share http://www.citycars...embership/how.shtml
SF automated rental system; uses some related technology [ootleman, Oct 21 2004]

5 Cadillac Escalades stolen http://abclocal.go....3_nw_suv_heist.html
[thumbwax, Oct 21 2004]


       Why not also have the system detonate paint bombs in the car that stains the person driving with a flourescent green dye to alert others that they are indeed the thief of the automobile???
theThinker, Mar 15 2003

       Sure. It'd be pretty hard to clean up the car, though.
galukalock, Mar 16 2003

       the dealership might get the car back but in what condition might it be in? dents, litter, scratches, puddles, etc. croissant for the seed of a good idea though.
po, Mar 16 2003

       Ah, but that's the reason for the deposit. If, pour chance, the damage was too great to be covered by the deposit, the credit card numbers from that night can be used to give a list of suspects (after all, how many people would test drive the same car in one night?).
galukalock, Mar 16 2003

       even so, you would need some proof. don't you get your deposit back when you return the car?
po, Mar 16 2003

       I really think you'd need someone to check over the car before you let someone else test-drive it. If only to ensure it was clean and presentable for the next driver. Also, you would probably want to pre-vet customers before agreeing to the test drive (e.g. to see if they had a license). I think they might want you to talk to a persuasive salesperson before or after the test drive, if only to answer your questions.   

       In Britain, Easy are offering car hire where you arrange the hire then they give you an activation code which you text from your mobile phone to a car to unlock it and start the hire. Such technology could trivially be applied to test drives, although most dealers seem to prefer you to take a very short drive with a salesman in the car, or no drive at all.
pottedstu, Mar 16 2003

       po, you get the deposit back after the car's inspection the next day. As for proof, again, the credit card numbers identify the only people who could reasonably have done the foul deed.
galukalock, Mar 16 2003

       1. Liability
2. Counter to auto industry marketing procedures.
They don't want you to freely test drive car models, they want to sell you a specific vehicle that they have on their lot as quickly as possible.
roby, Mar 16 2003

       //they want to sell you a specific vehicle...as quickly as possible//   

       //they try to move oldest stock first//   

       Exactly. You wouldn't set *every* car up this way, just those you wanted to sell first. You could do others at your convenience. As for liability:   

       1. Deposit
2. Identifying credit card numbers.
galukalock, Mar 17 2003

       Whoo baby, if all you needed was a working credit card number to get the keys to a benz or lexus or even a stiff-ride jeep...where I'm from that would lead to:
1. More wallets stolen
2. More cars stolen, crashed and/or used to facilitate negotiations of the dangerous kind.
I don't think Jersey City Chrysler Plymouth wants to risk being sued by the parents of Short Hills NJ kids flattened by a jeep from their inventory that was borrowed for an unaccompanied midnight test ride.
(not that there aren't certain teenagers who could use a little flattening).
roby, Mar 17 2003

       As if wallets aren't already stolen.   

       And apparently, you've already forgotten about the GPS tracker that calls the police the moment they get too far away.
galukalock, Mar 17 2003

       no, not forgetting, just remembering frequent failure of well-intended law enforcement communication/response systems. (an AWOL nissan is not exactly the biggest police priority at 2 a.m.)
as well, any number of necessary precautions against abuse work against the dealer's desire to minimize inventory cost and maximize sales pitch.
try getting an insurance policy for unvetted unaccompanied midnight drivers, even if constrained to x-mile radius and x-minutes.
roby, Mar 17 2003

       Well, I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to wire an engine-cutoff to the GPS device.
galukalock, Mar 17 2003

       A well-to-do couple that *stole* the Lexus?
galukalock, Mar 17 2003

       test-driving - keep up, its your idea [galukalock]
po, Mar 17 2003

       How about doing this on a closed-circuit track, with a security guard to ensure no shenanigans?
I think the open road idea is a nice dream, but has too much going against it
For dealers, add-on costs and risks make it uninteresting vs. little direct benefit,
for consumers, danger of being stranded due to wrong turns or inadvertent delays make it unattractive
and law enforcement won't be happy about increased demand on resources and abandoned/disabled new cars blocking traffic.
if the only constituency standing to benefit are the baddies, not worth it.
roby, Mar 17 2003

       But then again, pp. 3 says something about a warning signal given as soon as the limit approaches. Only after a certain period of time does the cutoff switch activate.   

       <off-topic>If you see ANY anno's supposedly mine which are misspelled or even *slightly* different from my writing style, please e-mail me. My sisters have a nasty habit of messing with stuff they're not supposed to. This would be a big favor to me, and would help avoid mix-ups.   

       Thank you.</off-topic>
galukalock, Mar 17 2003

       likewise, if anything I say sounds like a moron on crack, that's not me, it's my dog.
roby, Mar 18 2003

       <beating target="dead horse">Just so you know that anno wasn't mine, I want you to notice that never before or since have I signed my name to an anno.</beating>   

       No reply necessary.
galukalock, Mar 18 2003

       In the UK there are some cars companies that you ring and they will come round and deliver a car for you to test drive for a couple of days, then they will come back and pick it up!   

       Great if you just need a car for a weekend etc!
Renesis, Sep 20 2003

       How about a salesman who works third shift? He's there for the test drive (placating insurance companies) and will give the pitch and possibly write up the sale (making the lot owners happy). I know that if this option were available, I'd have stayed in the car sales business.
bryaninbama, Jan 30 2004


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