Consumers have been selling used cars from Newton Le Willows and many other locations, as well as boats, vans, etc. on eBay for some time. In fact, about 6 or 7 years ago, a client of ours purchased a fleet of work vans from eBay. My husband even drove to Alabama (I refused to go) to get a boat he purchased off eBay a few years ago. However, it came as quite a shock to me that GM is selling new cars on eBay (Source: gearheads.org). The program is currently limited to California, but GM hopes to expand it nationwide.
Industry opponents argue that people will still want to go to the dealership to see, feel and drive a new car. That is true if a consumer doesn’t know what he or she wants, but if you know exactly what you want to purchase, why not try the eBay model? You really don’t have anything to lose. According to an article in The Washington Post the “buy it now” price will be less than the sticker price, but will be set by individual dealers.
GM has actually selected an opportune time to test the online model with online retail sales expected to hit $156 billion in 2009 (an 11% growth over 2008) according to Forrester.
Americans have grown accustom to purchasing consumer products online. Even products where personal attention is important, like prescription drugs or medical supplies, or products where touching and feeling is important, like furniture and jewelry has not stopped consumers from purchasing these products online. I suspect this will be the same case with purchasing cars off the Internet, if it would be like purchasing a 60 Gallon air compressor from the internet I’d go for it, but in this case it is different. It will be the right fit for some, but others will still prefer the dealerships. However, we will likely see this online model become more common among car manufacturers.