GM Cars on eBay: Will They Close the Deal?

Will car showrooms soon be a thing of the past?. (Photo: Don O'Brien [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)

For a brief time until Sept. 8, you will be able to buy new General Motors cars — Chevys, Pontiacs, GMC trucks and Buicks (but not Cadillacs) on eBay. Yes, maybe you’ve bought a used car on eBay Motors (it gets 12 million unique visitors a month) but buying new — and haggling through eBay’s popular “Best Offer” feature — could prove popular.

An incredible 75 percent of Americans shop for cars online, reports J.D. Power, but a representative of told me that a measly 10,000 annually actually close the deal with mouse clicks: Most find what they want, including options, and then go to a real live dealer. But GM thinks it can change that. The company that just said its Volt is “game changing” because it gets the equivalent of 230 mpg thinks it has another game changer with online car sales.

“We’ll take every single additional sale,” GM spokesman John M. McDonald told me. “Our goal is to try and drive conquest sales and get on shoppers’ consideration lists. We have a market share opportunity in California, and partnering with eBay is one exceptional way to get in front of people shopping for vehicles online.”

According to Rob Chesney, vice president of eBay Motors, “Consumers are becoming increasingly more comfortable with the online shopping experience, especially as it relates to high-end items like automobiles. The volume of vehicles listed on eBay Motors has progressively increased since the marketplace launched in 2000 and more than three million vehicles have been purchased sight unseen.”

Here's Chesney talking about how the program will work:

What he doesn’t say is that those were used cars. Selling new ones is a whole other thing. Do people buy houses without seeing them, unless they’re say, Sting? Cars are the second-largest purchase most people make, after all. This is a big experiment, but as McDonald said, they're taking every single additional sale.