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Seattle startup bringing test drives to your driveway

Tred, a Seattle startup, delivers cars directly to your house to test drive, so you don't have to deal with the potential hassle or pressure at a car dealer.

By Clifford Atiyeh Jun 21, 2013 6:27AM
While the number of Internet car shopping and research sites approaches overkill, dealerships still hold the keys. But while eBay Motors has made car buying as easy as typing out an offer, buyers usually end up paying extra shipping fees -- and they have no way to check out the car in person.

The Seattle startup Tred is also an Internet middleman, but in this case, it's a delivery service for local dealerships staffed with salespeople who don't work for a dealer or an automaker. So far, about 40 dealers representing 14 automakers in the Seattle and Bellevue, Wash., areas have put some of their inventories on Tred's website -- including Toyota, Subaru, Audi and Mercedes-Benz (but likely not the SLS AMG shown above). The website lets a user pick a car, schedule a test drive and have the car come to them.

The fee is $19 per car, and that price allows up to 15 miles per test drive anywhere the customer wants to take it (aside from a race track, we presume). Buyers who have a trade-in can swap cars and keep the new car overnight. This lets the driver put up to 30 miles on the prospective purchase and have a trade-in offer from the dealer for their old vehicle within a few hours.

If it doesn't work out, the buyer can order another test drive -- even two cars at once -- and the process repeats itself until Tred decides you're just messing with them and cuts you off.

Tred then shows the buyer an exclusive, no-haggle price that's valid for two weeks. At that point, it's up to the buyer to drive to the dealership to finalize the purchase, but Tred claims that its dealer partners are "highly trained on our process" and can cut in half the average 4.3-hour time customers spend buying a car, according to Tred and estimates from J.D. Power and Associates.

"There's a natural skepticism around transparency, the Internet and all these things, but I think there's a larger acknowledgment that business is evolving and progressing and customers are changing," Tred CEO Grant Feek told Automotive News. "They're just demanding more service and more transparency."

Tred says it has plans to expand and that 40 percent of prospective buyers order the car after the test drive.

But we'd wager that most dealerships -- a traditional industry that has national franchise laws to thank for their continued existence -- won't sign up for Tred, simply because it puts them out of the loop, at least for a short time. Just ask Tesla, which has been sued in multiple states for trying to operate factory-owned stores, how easy it is to change the dealership process.

[Source: Tred via Automotive News]
Jun 23, 2013 12:57PM
I get that kind of service from my dealership and that makes me happy... I always purchase a new vehicle and I tell them I want to test it out and they deliver it to me for a week if I want. I try to not run up the miles because I usually end up buying the car they send BUT I have sent them back after I found out it wasn't what I expected.... That's how they keep my business.......
Jun 23, 2013 3:29PM
I absolutely loath car dealerships.
Jun 23, 2013 10:37AM
Mexico Baja 1000 race course in a ford raptor please :) Lets see if I can make it 15 miles for $19.
Jun 25, 2013 4:29AM
I'd be up for trying it, but honestly 15 miles isn't a lot.  and if I keep it over night 30 miles seems low too.  I know they're trying to keep it at a minimum but I fee like I'd need more mileage to really get the feel for a car.
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