It's been said before but bears repeating: One of the best ways to get people interested in electric cars is to get "butts in seats"--getting potential customers behind the wheel to experience the cars and see just how good they are to drive.

It's not always easy to do, though. Some people don't have the time to spend a weekend test-driving cars. Others may be dissuaded by hard-sell tactics.

That's where Tred comes in.

The Seattle startup is a new way of testing electric and hybrid cars (among other vehicles). The idea behind Tred is that for a small fee, the company can bring vehicles to your door to drive.

Unlike dealers, there'll also be no pressure to buy--Tred's experts simply answer questions on the vehicles, letting potential buyers know everything they need to know about the car. Better still, Tred can deliver two vehicles at once to test back-to-back--not always easy to do when traveling from dealer to dealer.

Should a driver like the car, they can then use Tred to get offers from local dealers and buy without ever setting foot in a dealer.

So what's the catch? Actually, there isn't one, as far as we can see. Where normally you'd have to pay $19 for a test drive, Tred has made all electric and hybrid vehicle drives completely free--so there really is no risk. And you get to drive the car on familiar roads, since test drives start from your front door--something you may not have the benefit of at a dealer.

As The Seattle Times reports, one of Tred's backers is ex-GM CEO Rick Wagoner. There's a solid premise behind the idea too--a Kelly Blue Book survey in 2011 discovered that 56 percent of drivers would definitely schedule a test drive if the car could be delivered to them.

Apply that figure to the number of people potentially interested in trying out an electric vehicle, and you really could get plenty of extra butts in seats.

Not everyone is guaranteed to buy a car, of course. But a sale is significantly more likely if someone new to the vehicles is handed one on a plate with no obligation to buy.

If you've not yet tried an electric car, would you give a system like Tred a try? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

[Hat tip: Rich Feldman]


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