Online auction giant eBay has teamed up with General Motors to try to help boost business and perhaps, change the way consumers shop for new cars. The majority of California's GM dealers are taking part in the trial program which kicked off Tuesday. GM officials say the experimental program is aimed at making it easier for consumers to buy a new car.
For consumers who don't like the sales pressure on the showroom floor, General Motors and eBay say there's another way.
Ebay motors vice president Rob Chesney says with a computer, potential car buyers can let their fingers do all the work. "For the first time, they will be able to see a virtual showroom of California dealers of GM inventory. They will be able to shop across models, across dealerships," he said.
Chesney says the co-branded GM-eBay site will allow users to browse different models - pick a color, choose accessories and negotiate price and financing options - all without coming face to face with a commissioned salesman. "They'll be able to do it from the convenience of their own home," Chesney adds.
The trial program comes just one month after GM made an unusually quick exit from bankruptcy protection with a promise to become profitable again. GM, once the world's largest automaker, says bringing the marketplace directly to consumers is part of that strategy.
Auto dealer Inder Dosanjh is surprised it didn't happen sooner. "The person that is shopping the Ford store and the GM Store, OK, he'll have more time to negotiate with us through the eBay," he says, "and in the comfort level, you know, sitting in their living room."
GM says the partnership with eBay is aimed at making the car buying process less complicated and more user-friendly. About 200 California dealerships are taking part in the pilot program, which runs until September 8. If it succeeds in selling more cars, eBay says the online program could be expanded to other states.