General Motors May Sell Cars Through eBay

General Motors is considering a partnership with eBay to make it easier for consumers to impulse-buy new vehicles, the recently solvent car maker announced yesterday. Though the deal isn’t yet finalized, General Motors would like to sell their vehicles both through traditional auctions and with a “Buy It Now” option.

One G.M. dealer said he had already talked with the company about the program and was excited about it.

The dealer, Inder Dosanjh, who owns Dublin Chevrolet outside San Francisco, said listing new cars on eBay would allow his dealership to get in front of customers who were doing most of their car shopping on the Internet. He said that would include some people who might not have otherwise considered a G.M. car.

For customers, he added, shopping on eBay could take some of the pressure off the negotiation process. “One of the fears the customer has when they walk in the door is that they are going to pay too much for a car,” Mr. Dosanjh said. “If they are negotiating a deal on eBay, from their living room, they are in their comfort level.”

State franchising laws prohibit car makers from selling directly to consumers, and it looks like dealers will still have a significant amount of leverage, including control over “the inventory and what pricing they have out there.” Would you buy a new G.M. through eBay, or is haggling in person with the dealer half the fun?

General Motors to sell new cars on eBay [Mercury News]
EBay Denies Partnership With G.M. [The New York Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. henrygates says:

    It will really depend on what kind of contract the eBay sale represents and how enforceable it is. I envision many complaints along the lines of:

    “I won the auction but the dealer added $500 in extra fees!”


    “When I got to the dealer they said the car was just sold and tried to make me buy a more expensive one!”

    • Nick1693 says:
    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      @henrygates: Then you walk and give negative feedback. You are under no obligation to participate in the bait-and-switch. People do pay attention to those things when buying on eBay, and if your friendly neighborhood dealer now has to compete with every other dealer with 100 miles, it will matter.

      • TVarmy says:

        @HurtsSoGood: Will each dealer have their own account and feedback rating, or will there just be one big GM account? If these auctions are all done through GM, that’s a problem, as it makes the dealers less accountable.

  2. wvFrugan says:

    Having been on eBay for years (buying & selling, including eBay motors), I can say with absolute certainty that this will fail just like Saturn’s no-haggle pricing. Ebay Motors has been fast tracked to become an epic fail the past few years.

    • wvFrugan says:


      By the way, GM dealers have had a large presence on eBay Motors for some time now with their “Certified Pre-Owned” stuff. The role out of that joint venture which flooded the used car listings with cars that seldom sold (dealers asking way too much) met with the same delight as a turd in the swimming pool.

    • BlazerUnit says:

      @wvFrugan: I thought Saturn was well-regarded with many luxury brands for customer service. I’m not sure how ‘no-haggle’ was such a failure when there are dealers of all brands who copied it (before the recession, anyway).

  3. takes_so_little says:

    Well, they may be OFFERING them for sale on ebay. It remains to be seen whether or not they will actually SELL any.

  4. bohemian says:

    They really got my hopes up that you might be able to buy direct from the manufacturer. The car company that bucks the franchise dealership model will win. Have them set up smaller company owned locations where you can test drive but have your car delivered direct from the factory or the option to go there and buy it.
    Buying cars from a dealer is cumbersome and full of hassles.

    • anduin says:

      that would be a great idea but the consummer market would fall apart if you could start just getting things right from the source (I know some areas you can do this). Dealerships would cry afoul that they can’t afford cheap cologne and flashy suits anymore

  5. I Love New Jersey says:

    With the federal government involved and its history of ignoring things like state laws this is no great hurdle to overcome.

  6. Brendan Long says:

    If my experience with ebay has taught me anything, it’s that you never get a deal on ebay. If dealers start selling cars there, you’ll see 5 year old cars going for $50,000. On the other hand, people will still buy them because they think if it’s on ebay it must be a good deal.

  7. Anonymous says:

    First of all, it is highly unlikely that I would buy a GM car, given their history of ignoring consumers in the way that Honda and Toyota have not, but I would MUCH rather buy a car with a set price than to have to deal with a car dealership/salesman…that is the most degrading thing I (a woman) have ever done!! Surely, soon, people will be able to buy what they want directly from manufacturers. I certainly would prefer that to ever shopping in a store!

  8. a5un says:

    Why is it that GM is still looking for ways like this to sell cars. Why not start with make better cars and cost production cost? Forget selling crap on ebay. If it’s crap, it doesn’t matter where it’s sold. No one’s gonna buy crap.

    • bohemian says:

      @a5un: I am actually considering buying a GM truck. Yes it makes me sort of shudder too. Dodge is in worse shape than GM and our last Dodge truck was a good looking lemon. I am still on the fence regarding Fords. I have not had good experiences with them either and they tend to be way overpriced.
      When I am looking at spending that much cash the bar goes way up as far as expectations. The biggest dread really is having to put up with a dealer.

    • jamar0303 says:

      @a5un: GM only makes crap for America. Over in China they actually have some decent stuff and it sells like hotcakes, so much so, in fact, that it somehow justifies them having THEIR OWN pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo. I kid you not, SAIC-GM (their Chinese division is partly local-owned, SAIC=Shanghai Automotive Industry Commission or some such) is listed as one of the pavilions in an ad I saw in Shanghai.

  9. frank64 says:

    I see a new business opportunity for Ebay: Paypal Automotive Financing. Oh god.

  10. shepd says:

    !!! LQQK !!! GM Chevy Chev Chevrolet Aveo Aveyo! $0.99 NR or low BIN! 100% Warranty, BNIB! Free CONUS Ship!

  11. Dansc29625 says:

    I think that the dealership sales model is coming to an end and this is just the companies way of looking for new avenues to sell the cars.

    Glad dealers are going out of business.

    • anduin says:

      same here, why do I need a middleman to get a car ? If I could get the car significantly cheaper then I would always get it from that source.

    • bohemian says:

      @Dansc29625: The dealership model is another one of those antiquated things from way way back that simply has become a leech on the entire process.

      The supposed big money for dealerships isn’t selling the car it is servicing and repairing the car. This is why the electric vehicles like the EV1 were such an issue. What happens if your cars no longer need maintenance?

      I am really hoping that this is what Penske has up their sleeves when they bought Saturn. Penske already owns Smart cars. If they were to take the EV1 model that I think is tied to Saturn intellectual property they could start cranking out an updated mass production model in a few years. They also would not be tied to the screwed up dealer model.

  12. HiPwr says:

    Is eBay “too big to fail?” Maybe GM can get a special strong-arm rate.

  13. Shoelace says:

    Intriguing, though I think it will fail quickly.

    Everything included with the car will need to be spelled out in detail to avoid having the customer show up and be hit with unexpected costs and haggling. And how will loan sales pitches and negotiations be handled? I wouldn’t want a car dealer that I’ve never met checking my credit.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @Shoelace: I’m guessing that they’d expect people buying on Ebay to have their own financing or cash already available.

  14. NinjaMarion says:

    For customers, he added, shopping on eBay could take some of the pressure off the negotiation process. “One of the fears the customer has when they walk in the door is that they are going to pay too much for a car,” Mr. Dosanjh said. “If they are negotiating a deal on eBay, from their living room, they are in their comfort level.”

    Or, you know, not being a sleazy, dickweed, car dealer intentionally trying to rip off customers. There shouldn’t even BE a negotiation process. Just sell the damn car for a reasonable price without me having to argue and fuss back and forth just to get you to take off $5 and throw in some floor mats. I don’t have to wheel and deal the dud at 7-11 to get a Slurpee for a proper price. I don’t have to quote the prices friends are getting on XBox360’s at Best Buy and then threaten to go to another store if they don’t also throw in GTA and drink holders.

    How about rather than grossly overpricing your stuff with the intent to come down when forced to and fuck over everyone that doesn’t bitch and haggle every step of the way, you just give a good, reasonable price that’s somewhat of a middle ground for dealer and customer? Then you won’t have people averse to car shopping due to being afraid of negotiating with sleazy car salesmen.

    • anduin says:

      you know your slurpee that you pay $1.50 for costs like 25 cents to make ? I would love to negotiate slurpee prices…

    • rpm773 says:


      How about rather than grossly overpricing your stuff…you just give a good, reasonable price that’s somewhat of a middle ground for dealer and customer?

      They already do that. The ad price is what gets you in the door. And there’s nothing that says you have to negotiate that price down. If you don’t, and you think you’re not getting a good deal, I’d advise that you either embrace the concept of haggling or become less suspicious about your deal.

      Because, as the comments on your 7-11/Slurpee example show, just turning off negotiations on a deal doesn’t mean the vendor isn’t making a killing off of you.

      Haggling is a good tool for the consumer.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        just turning off negotiations on a deal doesn’t mean the vendor isn’t making a killing off of you.

        @rpm773: That’s not the point.

    • bohemian says:

      @NinjaMarion: Buying a car is worse than buying a house. I had less hassles and BS buying houses than buying cars from dealerships.

      When buying a house is a less painful process than buying a car something is very wrong in the car dealership world.

  15. H3ion says:

    You can already get a quote on a car equipped the way you want it by using Edmunds, and a few others. You don’t like the quote, you don’t bother going to that dealer. How would this be any different?

  16. Snarkysnake says:

    This is a joke ,right ?
    It’s really April 1 again and this is an elaborate hoax designed to give Letterman something halfway funny to say tonight ,right ?

    Ebay and General Motors will give MILLIONS of Americans a choice of companies that they don’t trust to not buy cars from.There are some Ebay Motors sellers that are honest, friendly and fair with their buyers. Those sellers all live in a distant galaxy.Ebay Motors here on earth has become a dumping ground for trash cars that should be crushed before they kill their users.
    Imagine a system where cars are sold using even more shameful tactics than conventional dealers use when you go to buy a car. That is Ebay motors.It has become a parlor game for several of us drinking buddies to pull up the most misleading ads and pictures of in demand cars that are listed for sale and point out the bullshit in the listings.
    The new GM looks like they didn’t learn a damn thing from the old GM…

    • bohemian says:

      @Snarkysnake: You forgot Craigslist. I had a guy want to meet me in a grocery store parking lot outside Chicago to sell me a car he had listed. He tried to deny the things I found on the carfax report. Just bizarre.

  17. madanthony says:

    I don’t understand this at all. First of all, the “will reach people who otherwise wouldn’t consider a GM car makes no sense. eBay motors is driven either by search or by category, and the category is by make and model, so it’s pretty hard to accidentally stumble on a manufacturer you weren’t planning on buying.

    And I don’t understand why eBay is necessary – most dealerships do internet sales to some degree, and most manufacturer’s websites let you search inventory and then contact a dealer about a car you found. Why involve eBay and pay them fees and make things more complicated?

    • umbriago says:

      What GM need to do is create great products, and not to use eBay as a gimmick.

      And why use eBay for heaven’s sakes – can’t they set up their own Internet marketplace for selling cars?

  18. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I think this is just an elaborate lead generation tool. Let’s say you won the auction for a brand new Camaro for $25K. Well, you didn’t actually win the car. You basically submitted a price you’re willing to pay for any Camaro. And you will be referred to a local dealership willing to take the offer.

    And the end result, is that the dealer will offer you a Camaro for $25K but it will most likely be a stripped down version, and not the color you wanted.

    • Jonathan Marek Bailey says:


      Sort of like going into a jewelry store and telling them “how much money you have” so they can find the right diamond for you. They then go out and find the worst diamond possible for that price then call you into their store to show you the fruits of their “labor.” I have so much fun telling jewelers “I’m not going to tell you how much money I have, I’m going to tell you the type of diamond I want and you’re going to tell me how much it costs.” Cars + eBay = fail!

  19. Hands says:

    I might consider this except for the fact that I’d have to buy a car from GM and that ain’t never gonna happen.

  20. moore850 says:

    price haggling is the most epic failure of the car industry. If you don’t even know what price your vehicles should sell at; if you can’t even set a price that people will pay, something is terribly wrong. People smell a scam and walk away. That’s why all these car makers are tanking. What’s the incentive to get ripped off just because you can’t spend hours trying to get the “best deal” on the purchase?

    • BlazerUnit says:

      @moore850: I agree with you. There are few things that I might want to haggle on: My salary, a raise in said salary, and a settlement to a legal matter (and I’d prefer never having to deal with the latter, against or for my behalf).

      Have you ever observed folks in a shopping center parking lot? Some folks circle the lot looking for a ‘great spot’, and others will pick the first spot they see and take whatever walk to the front door is necessary. The second group isn’t necessarily dumb or wrong; they just have prioritize different.

      The info from Consumer Reports, Kelly Blue Book, Edmunds, and other websites that deal with cars is too available and too good to ignore. I shouldn’t have to ‘negotiate’. Judging from the options I want and the options I have in buying new or used, I know what a fair price should look like. And if one dealer doesn’t have it, I can look elsewhere–at other makes and with other manufacturers.

      (For that matter, I’m not going to be one of these goobs who will ‘never’ buy a GM or Chrysler product again because of the bankruptcy or bailouts of recent vintage. And I don’t believe many of the folks who say they will: You’ve got people putting up with spotty AT&T service just for an iPhone.)

  21. redkamel says:

    whats wrong with the good old online store? Look at local dealer stock. Then build your car online, and it can be located and shipped immediately for extra cost, or custom made. Make a down payement online and your car comes to the dealership.

  22. gman863 says:

    If new GM cars show up on eBay, I’ll be first in line for eBay Motor’s new sub-catagory:

    Cars & Trucks > Cheap Shit > GM Vehicles > Accessories

    ___Mop & Slop Triple Play! Turtle Wax, Scotchguard & Pinstriping — 80% OFF DEALER PRICE, BUY IT NOW, only $249.00!
    ___Sunroof visor with FREE mesh trunk grocery bag hlder — Starting bid $99.99, FREE SHIPPING.

    If people are stupid enough to buy a new vehicle sight unseen off eBay, I feel I deserve a cut of what these retards are willing to spend.

  23. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    As much as I would love to avoid haggling, I’m not buying a car I haven’t test driven.

  24. bmorg003 says:

    This idea ranks right up there with the “Jump to conclusions mat” (ref. OfficeSpace). The “Fail” is strong with this one.