• Sep 30, 2009
Back in August, General Motors began a pilot program in which it opened up its own eBay mega store. A total of 225 dealers had participated in the California-only pilot, but GM has decided to pull the plug on the program effective today. With the program ending instead of expanding to all of the 50 U.S. States and beyond, many would call the program a failure. GM doesn't see it that way.

The General is calling its eBay experiment a success, stating that the program helped the Detroit, MI-based automaker reach potential customers who wouldn't have otherwise considered GM products. We're not so sure about that one, but then again we're not invited to many board meetings at the Ren Cen, either.

While GM and eBay aren't releasing the amount of sales generated by the program, some site statistics are being released. GM's auction site achieved a fairly impressive 1.5 million views during its month-and-a-half in existence, with a reported 15,000 dealer leads.

GM spokesman John McDonald says that the company is focusing its efforts on a new marketing campaign that touts the General's new 60 day money back guarantee. And just because GM is ending its eBay experiment, it doesn't mean that its thousands of dealers are going to stop posting new cars and trucks on eBay Motors. Dealers from all OEMs have been using the popular auction site for years, and it seems that the majority of auctions on the site now are of the dealer variety.

[Source: Seattle Times]


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  • 25 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Autoblog should buy one share of every car company just to force their way into the meetings.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I can not comment the sales on eBay but I can certainly tell you one thing I know and I know it very well:

      1.5 million views for 45 days is a PATHETIC result for such an endeavor and if they really wanted to do something there they did not make the effort at all.

      Or as I see it now, after it ends - simple smoke and mirrors to tell the public that they are trying to do something. I continue to think (as people mentioned already in this thread) that GM has to find any legal way possible to sell more cars and trucks. It is another matter whether they are ready to face the competition after almost 2 decades of improper sales policy and management.

      I think GM should try and catch up with Ford first ....
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is not surprising,

      I'm going to guess it's more of the partnership with ebay than anything else. Ebay is not cheap to use for high value items. They take "cuts" both ways (buyer & seller). In effect ebay itself is a middleman who takes profits but absorbs no costs.

      I would recommend GM host/setup their own transaction website.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Well it seems GM still has a distorted view of what constitutes a "success." Business as usual...
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's not a distorted view, it's the difference between somehting that was a "hit" and something that had a very small success or break even.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Maybe it's a success because they learned a lot that they can use in future promotions, and it cost them almost nothing to do it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Actually, 1.5 million page views when the cars were only visible to searches in California doesn't seem bad. Also, knowing how poorly most dealers track leads, I would assume that the 15k number only includes those who filled out the offer form on eBay. I would assume that a much larger number just picked up the phone or walked in to the dealership... or I would hope so.

      I don't know how they figure which customers were truly incremental, but a lead is a lead. Also, based on the little bit of searching I did, the prices asked on eBay were often higher than those advertised in local papers and certainly weren't lower than one could have gotten by negotiating in person, so again, it seemed like the goal was just to funnel leads to dealers, not to actually sell the cars "on" eBay.

        • 5 Years Ago
        "I would assume that a much larger number just picked up the phone or walked in to the dealership"

        I wouldn't. Once you find out that it's just going across existing dealers, there's not much benefit or interest.
      • 5 Years Ago
      once again, here's proff that big companies with tired distribution methods don't truely get the internet. This was doomed to fail from the start. Most urban dealers already use eBay in some capacity to advertise their cars, at least they do around here in the DC region. This little experiment would have been much more meaningful if GM was selling direct to the customer, cutting out the dealer network. and potentially saving both GM and it's customers a nice chunk of change per deal. Unfortunately, that's impossble due to laws in most states and the Delaer lobby. All this little "experiment" did was give the dealer network an official result, showcasing how they are still needed and that consumers don't want "online" sales. What GM did here was nothing new or different, just repackaged and too small in scope.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "This little experiment would have been much more meaningful if GM was selling direct to the customer, cutting out the dealer network."

        Exactly. Build to order with dealers paid a flat fee to be the delivery point.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Failure from the start.
      • 5 Years Ago
      A pilot program from an Obama-administration backed enterprise being called a "success" in spite of obvious failure? Say it ain't so. Kinda like the "success" they're having turning around the economy by "saving" jobs from being lost, not actually making new ones, or the "success" in the Middle East by doing absolutely nothing as Afghanistan spirals down the toilet. Denial isn't just a river in Egypt.
      • 5 Years Ago
      As for the eBay trial, they whiffed. If they had lowered the prices (dealer mark up vs eBay fees) they would have made more profit per and sold more. Local dealers would have had to compete on prices and lost. GM would have had people scurrying for deals, created buzz and maybe sold a car or two.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sad part in all of this is that Malibu is really a nice car, GM needs to show people this car, i say go to college and university campuses and let anyone who wants to seat in one and to register for a test drive.

      These people will graduate soon and will probably buy their first new car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        People graduating from a university likely are not looking for anything like a Malibu as their first car... While the idea of getting out there and setting up maybe a "mini showroom" would be great exposure, I think they would need to find their actual target audience.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ack154
        Not sure about that, I have a 16 yr old that loves the car. ;-) I think they should just start direct, order on demand, showrooms. Where you have the showroom model of each car, that stays inside, then 2+ test models in the back and a regional lot where they can keep a steady supply for that area. Making more things standard and cutting down of the dizzying array of options will cut down on the amount of inventory in the area lots. Just a thought...
      • 5 Years Ago
      good move. who would pay asking price for a car? Oh, apparently people did.
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