GM Turns to eBay, But Is It Anything New?


I can just imagine how this marketing meeting went.

General Motors execs are sitting around a table wondering how best to emerge from bankruptcy and prove the company is ready to tackle the world.

One of the old guys at the table chimes in (it might appear that I have a thing against old people, but I don’t – my parents and grandparents are old, and I like them just fine):

“Uh… ever heard of eBay?”

After explaining the concept to the rest of the aged group, they agree that this new Internet thing might help GM’s fortunes. So they all agree to make GM vehicles available on eBay, starting today. But only in California.

This is no different than what every dealer in the country has been doing since the turn of the century. Under GM’s brilliant plan, potential buyers either bid on a car or take the Buy It Now price, then proceed to the dealer to finalize the transaction.

Just like we’ve always been able to do.

GM says this about the “new” eBay tool:

Shoppers can use it to browse dealers’ inventories, ask questions, negotiate prices and arrange financing.

Wow! Just like e-mail!

This might be a newsworthy story if the site allowed buyers to buy cars factory-direct and bypass the dealer altogether. In fact, if that were the case, I’d be dripping praise right now all over General Motors like syrup on pancakes.

Instead I just shake my head in disbelief while reading about GM vice presidents patting themselves on the back for such a great idea.

GM’s slogan for their new eBay page is “Our Best Cars. Your Best Offer.” Maybe I’m reading  too much into this, but Cadillac is the only GM brand that won’t be available through its eBay page. But Pontiac will! So I guess by “Our Best Cars,” GM really means, “Our mediocre cars that we’re either discontinuing or no one wants to buy anymore.”

Looks like if we truly want GM’s best, which is without a doubt Cadillac, we still have to shop at the dealer.

Is GM as smart as they think they are for offering cars for sale on eBay?



  1. Its a desperate move that doesn’t seem to be very professional when a big company uses the same medium as ma and pa type businesses.

  2. Tada! We finally agree on something. Yes, another stupid idea from a group of very overpaid group-thinkers.

    I love the way you picked up so fast on the slogan, which (of course) is not true at all. Think they’ll sell them at “your best offer” if it doesn’t turn a profit? Doubtful.

    You hear the dealers screaming about how hard it is to deal with the cash for clunkers program, wait till they find out that half or more of their “winning” bidders can’t be contacted after the sale or were bidding on ten or more vehicles to get the best deal and blowing off the others.

    I can see only one advantage to this program. It will strongly appeal to people who really hate to dicker in person at the dealer— folks like you!! It might actually make it possible to get a the best deal on a car as long as there isn’t a flurry of “fine print” that gives you a nasty $urprise when you go to get your car.

    However, I think unless you are a “cash in hand” buyer, the whole process will be even more complicated than doing it in person. Also, remember that Ebay gets a cut, so theoretically, you should be able to get the car cheaper by dealing face-to-face with the dealer. Maybe GM will do their IPO through Ebay, who knows?

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