Fresh out of bankruptcy, GM is embracing the Net, testing a new partnership with Silicon Valley online auction giant eBay to sell cars. The experiment will start on the West Coast and spread later if it works. While dealers already list used cars for sale on eBay, GM dealers will now list new cars on eBay, where the customer can bid on them at auction or buy at a fixed price.
People have been buying cars on eBay for years. But GM, which has become synonymous for "slow to change," is at least showing that it understands how people shop for cars these days. With eBay's "Buy It Now" format, car buyers can go for a no-haggling price, or chance it in an auction.
The question is, will the transparency of the Internet cut into the profits of GM dealers? Time will tell, but I spent a couple of hours at GM dealerships today, and you could hear the crickets chirp. Customers are hardly walking onto the lot. Trying something new is probably a good idea.
The best news about this partnership? The consumer wins. If you don't get the deal you want on the lot, go online and see what you can find. Maybe, instead of feeling beaten up by your local car dealer, you can wield the auction hammer yourself.