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GM Teams Up with eBay

11th August 2009

Citing the need to try new things, GM VP Mark LaNeve announced that GM will try an innovative approach to selling cars with eBay.  eBay?  Don’t they already sell cars, you know, through eBay MOTORS??  Yes, they do.  Mostly used cars, though some dealers list their new car inventory on the site.  This, however, is different, as it is the first time a manufacturer has listed “all” of the new vehicles for sale like this.  The new site,gm.ebay.com, will allow customers to browse by make, model, trim, transmission, color, model year and maximum price.  The program is just a test for now.  It only is in California and only for 1 month (11 August – 8 September) and does not include Cadillac.  GM says that as many as 20,000 vehicles will be available through the system, depending on dealer participation (presently 225 CA dealers).  LaNeve said the program would be expanded and/or extended if GM and the dealers decide it is working.  He defined “working” as not necessarily increased sales (though that is clearly a sign of success), but also increased showroom traffic or development of leads for the dealers.

Consumers will be able to browse hundreds of California dealer online showrooms, ask questions, negotiate prices, and arrange financing and payment to purchase a new 2008, 2009 or select 2010 car, crossover or truck online.  Vehicles will be offered through eBay Motors’ traditional formats such as “Buy It Now” (where shoppers agree to pay the advertised price) and eBay’s innovative “Best Offer” option (where buyers indicate the price they are willing to pay and can negotiate online with the dealer for the vehicle).

The site also incorporates features that will allow consumers to compare pricing across models or participating dealerships, get tips and advice with a Buyer Checklist, and determine the value of their trade-in or whether their current vehicle may also qualify for government funded ‘Cash For Clunkers’ incentives.

“With 12 million individual car shoppers visiting our site every month, eBay Motors has unique insight into how people prefer to buy their cars,” said Rob Chesney, vice president, 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.”

While very limited in scope and duration, this program shows that maybe – just maybe – GM can indeed be the nimble operation that it needs to be to survive.  This program should increase awareness of, and generate interest in, GM’s brands and models.  That can only be a good thing for GM, and you the taxpayer/shareholder.

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