The new General Motors Co. is working with eBay Motors in an initiative that would allow customers to bid for vehicles online, “just like they do in an eBay auction,” says GM CEO Fritz Henderson.
The goal is to make car shopping and buying easier for customers and allow them to do it “on their time and terms,” Henderson says at a news conference on the occasion of GM emerging from bankruptcy.
“We’ll be testing this and other ideas with our dealers over the new few weeks,” he says. It starts in California.
He predicts the plan – which includes the option of choosing a predetermined “buy-it-now” price – “will revolutionize how people buy vehicles online.”
Raynard Fenster not only thinks the plan will “definitely work,” he predicts “it will be exceptional beyond what you may think.”
Fenster, while e-commerce director for the Lindsay Automotive Group with dealerships in the Washington DC area, two years ago became a pioneer in using eBay to sell new cars online.
Last year, all dealers who sell GM’s Certified Pre-Owned vehicles began listing their entire inventories on eBay Motors.
But currently only a few dealers list new vehicles on eBay, and do so selectively. Fenster thinks the new GM-eBay initiative will change that.
“It’s definitely going to grow beyond the few dealers doing it now,” he says.
For dealers, an important element of the online vehicle-bidding process is that they are able to maintain control, especially by setting minimum bids.
That eliminates the possibility of someone successfully bidding a few hundred dollars on a new car, “but someone can get a bargain when dealers sometimes put a car up as a loss-leader,” Fenster says.
Many consumers like the online bidding process because it gives them the feeling of control, allows them to cut through the hassle and saves time, he says.
“The eBay car buyer is just that – a buyer, not a shopper.” Fenster says. “He is qualified and ready to pull the trigger.”
Henderson says that after initial testing, GM hopes to “expand and build upon” the online bidding project in the coming months.
Fenster offers a tip for success: Make sure the listings are correct. “You can’t boiler-plate it and the information must be accurate or it won’t work.”