Sunday, April 09, 2006

GM rolls dice on Las Vegas drive attraction

Sunday, April 09, 2006

GM rolls dice on Las Vegas drive attraction (storylink)

Automaker hopes test facility on Las Vegas Strip will lead to more sales

Brett Clanton / The Detroit News

What happens in Las Vegas could actually help General Motors Corp. sell more cars and trucks.
GM is opening a new test facility Monday on the famous Las Vegas Strip in an effort to convince thousands of well-heeled tourists to try out its products.

The attraction, called The Drive is part thrill ride and part marketing lab. For $10, anyone 18 or older who presents a valid driver's license and passes a breathalyzer test can take a spin in one of more than a dozen new GM vehicles ranging from the Cadillac Escalade to the Chevy Corvette.

Raising awareness of new vehicles is central to turnaround efforts at GM, which lost $10.6 billion last year amid falling sales. The Drive promotion is one of many efforts designed to draw attention to GM's cars and away from its financial troubles. "Right now, we're using this as a pilot to see what the response is," said Ryndee Carney, a GM spokeswoman.

Customers may choose to drive on one of two tracks -- a high-speed oval with high-walled turns or a rugged off-road course boasting two "adventure trails."

The promotion was lured to town by the Las Vegas Monorail, which runs an inner-city train system and has trolled for companies to sponsor stops.

The attraction sits at the shuttle stop outside the venerable Sahara Hotel & Casino, where GM has leased an 11-acre site for six months.

"It's going to bring people to the hotel," said Ron Garrett, the Sahara's director of marketing and entertainment.

And before it's over, it may lure new buyers into the GM family.

"At one time, Vegas was the Cadillac capital of the world," Garrett said. And maybe someday, he said, it will be again.


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