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No time for a test drive? Bring it to your door.

Shopping for a new car can be time consuming. But a new startup wants to save time by bringing the test drive to you. 

By Richard ReadGuest blogger / June 30, 2013

The 2014 Chevrolet Malibu on Belle Isle in Detroit. General Motors CEO Richard Wagoner donated $1.7 million to startup Tred, which delivers test drive vehicles to customers' doors.

Carlos Osorio/AP/File

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We're all pressed for time.

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Ironically, the many innovations that should've helped us save time -- from washing machines to email to smartphones -- have simply given us more time to be busy with other stuff. "Oh, great, my Roomba can vacuum my house! I think I'll start a blog about fishing." And so it goes.

In the business world, the time crunch has made customer service a battleground where the hearts and minds of consumers are won. The company that resolves our issue the fastest earns our undying loyalty. (Until the next crisis rolls around, anyway.)

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On the auto front, this has forced dealerships to spend a lot more time learning to pamper customers and anticipate their every need.  Heck, Chevrolet even sent its sales staff to Disney World to grab a few pointers. 

A start-up called Tred has taken customer service one step further. If you're shopping for a new ride, Tred will deliver a vehicle right to your house for a test drive -- and not one of those dinky "once around the block" drives, either, but a true, 15-mile outing. And that's all for the reasonable price of $19. If you want to compare two cars side-by-side, Tred can make that happen, too. 

Even better, if you have a car of your own, you can swap overnight. The Tred employee will take your car back to the dealership to evaluate its trade-in value. The only stipulation is that you can't put more than 30 miles on the vehicle, and you have to return it to the dealership within 24 hours.

No matter which of those paths you take, the Tred staffer arrives at your home with paperwork on the new vehicle, including some very competitive pricing. According to Wards Auto, CEO Grant Feek thinks Tred will be particularly attractive to those with aversions to showrooms and salespeople. That could mean shoppers who feel less-than-confident about their car knowledge or those who simply don't enjoy haggling. 

For now, Tred is only available in the Seattle area, but according to its FAQ, the company hopes to expand operations very, very soon. Considering that Feek has already raised some $1.7 million in start-up funds from folks like General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner, we wouldn't be at all surprised. 

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