Forget getting cash for your clunker. If you want a real deal on a car after bankruptcy, hop online and get bidding. General Motors has just announced a partnership with its online auction counterpart eBay to start posting vehicles from more than 200 California dealerships as part of an ongoing effort to spur sales after the car maker's recent bankruptcy.
While being billed as only a temporary effort, eBay and General Motors will create individually branded Web sites under eBay's car buying arm, eBay Motors. The sites, aptly named gm.ebay.com, chevy.ebay.com, gmc.ebay.com, pontiac.ebay.com and so on are considered beta tests to see how such a program could continue to fuel car sales across the country. The promotion is scheduled to run from August 11 to September 8 and if things go well, the sites will be granted nationwide accessibility.
General Motors, the world's largest producer of automobiles, recently sprang out of bankruptcy with the help of the federal government and is seeking new and creative ways to shed it's lethargic, old-school image. The company rid itself of tremendous payloads of debt and is going after a customer base that has for a long time been best described as despondent relative to traditional American car brands. Toyota and Honda have dominated U.S. car sales for the last two decades.
The slick online sales partnership is aimed directly at younger, more tech-savvy car buyers who demonstrate comfort in making larger purchases online. The respective Web sites will allow buyers to enter a fixed, or "buy it now" price, and also bid on cars in traditional eBay auction format. They will also be able to engage the participating dealers in negotiations and determine whether their current car is eligible for the Cash for Clunkers program.
General Motors was also inspired by recent reports by J.D. Power and some of his Associates that said in 2008, more than 75% of new vehicle buyers used the Web to generate comparisons and research vehicles. Last year also saw the largest recorded increase in online car shopping since 2001. Additionally, as part of the company's bankruptcy plan, it needs to shed 40% of its dealerships.
The online action plan is also part of a sweeping change in marketing strategy for GM, as it has hired new teams and is assessing how to better position itself against the foreign automakers. Experts all agree that GM simply has to make people want their cars, which may not happen just because they're being sold on a fancy new Web site.
Because of the recession, car sales have dropped significantly, to their lowest point in nearly 30 years. Vendors and a bevy of suppliers have also been hit by the depletion of car sales. The industry, as well as the Obama administration, will no doubt be watching closely the auction activity on gm.ebay.com. Will you?