About 225 General Motors dealerships from around California will join the 30,000 others who sell vehicles on eBay, as the troubled car manufacturer looks for new ways to reach buyers and return to profitability.
Beginning Tuesday, shoppers will be able to browse through thousands of GM vehicles on gm.ebay.com. The new selling site will incorporate features to allow shoppers to compare prices of participating dealerships, get tips with a Buyer Checklist, and determine the value of their trade-ins or see if their cars qualify for "Cash for Clunkers" incentives.
Cars listed on the site will include 2008 and 2009 Chevrolet, Buick, GM and Pontiac models, as well as some 2010 vehicles.
The site will be available on a trial basis until Sept. 8 but could be expanded to include dealers from around the country depending on demand. The partnership had been in the works for about a month.
"Together with eBay Motors, GM and our dealers are reinventing the car-buying experience for our California customers," notes Mark LaNeve, GM's vice president of U.S. sales. "As the dealer showroom expands from the parking lot to the laptop, this makes it easier for a customer to browse available new-car inventory, make an offer, buy it now or send a message asking for more information from a dealer—all at the customer's convenience."
Serious shoppers have shifted from the traditional forms of researching and purchasing vehicles to getting it all done on the Internet
GM hopes the auction site will increase its sales. The company has posted losses totaling $88 billion since 2004 and will reduce its number of U.S. dealerships by more than 40 percent by the end of 2010, according to news reports.
"With 12 million individual car shoppers visiting our site every month, eBay Motors has unique insight into how people prefer to buy their cars," says Rob Chesney, vice president of eBay Motors. "Through this program, we are helping GM dealers to extend their physical showroom, while at the same time delivering to our buyers the great deals and broad selection they expect from eBay."
GM decided to launch its pilot program in California because that state's market has been "incredibly hard-hit by the recession," adds LaNeve. "We really think it needs a shot in the arm."
Buyers will have the option of negotiating prices with the dealer through eBay or buying vehicles at their listed price using the Buy It Now button.
Dealerships are excited about the possibilities of the new program, and customers should benefit, too, says Ted Nicholas, president and CEO of Three Way Chevrolet, a dealership in Bakersfield.
"We've found that serious shoppers want it to be easy, and have shifted from the traditional forms of researching and purchasing vehicles to getting it all done on the Internet," he says.
"In the not-too-distant past, a customer had to work too hard to find a vehicle and what might be the best offer to be found," Nicholas continues. "Now, with the custom-built GM/eBay microsite, customers can get all the information they need about available inventory, compare features and price... and make a decision to buy a vehicle now or make an offer."
Other Entries by this Author
Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.