GM (Dealers) Sells Cars Through EBay

I really don’t get this…

General Motors Co. will let customers buy cars and trucks online from some California dealers through EBay Inc., the operator of the most-visited U.S. e-commerce Web site.

Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Pontiac brands will be available at gm.ebay.com starting tomorrow through Sept. 8, GM and San Jose, California-based EBay said today in a statement. More than 225 dealers will participate, the companies said.

[From GM Sells Cars Through EBay in Bid to Return to Profit (Update3) – Bloomberg.com]

First of all, this isn’t GM going direct to consumers, which would be illegal under state franchise laws, so instead they are pooling a bunch of dealers together and opening an EBay store. How is that any different than walking in and negotiating your way down to the invoice price (or in EBay parlance, the reserve price), other than doing it with your computer instead of your feet? You still have to pick up the car from a GM dealer somewhere.

Secondly, GM picks California to pilot this in, which according to various news reports is because of the “tech savvy population”… cuz ya know, EBay hasn’t really made it out to flyover country yet. Here’s the problem for GM, Californians are the least likely to buy a GM product of any region in the country, which means that their pool of prospective buyers is a smaller slice of the overall market for people interested in buying a new car. Why not do this in the Northeast or Florida?

$22.5 billion to bail them out and this is the best they can do? Shrewd.

UPDATE:

Here’s the best part of the whole story, the EBay site being touted today won’t be functional until tomorrow. The guys must work for the government, they get a bunch of PR for a site that isn’t even functional yet. Wasted PR, who will remember to click there tomorrow?

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