General Motors is gauging dealers' interest in buying customized used vehicles at auctions.
GM sold about 1,000 tricked-out vehicles by mid-November at 12 auction sites nationwide. The 90-day pilot program ends Nov. 30.
The automaker is offering 20-inch tires and aluminum wheels, running boards and grille guards on SUVs and pickups. Pontiac Grand Ams are equipped with Ram Air hoods. Chevrolet Classics are prime candidates for spoilers.
The automaker wants to know which accessories dealers will pay for, on which vehicles and in which regions of the country, says Mike Hurst, special projects manager of GM Used-Vehicle Activities.
"There are quite a few combinations that we will assess and analyze," he says.
"It's part of a corporate objective to gain some momentum in growing a quite lucrative aftermarket segment in which GM, quite candidly, has been an underperformer. We're pleased with the momentum."
The program does not involve GM's acquisition of customized vehicles. Rather, it hires auctions to install the specialty equipment on standard used vehicles.
Hurst says GM will measure the program's success by comparing the wholesale prices of accessorized vehicles with the prices of vehicles of the same make, model and color without the enhancements.
Jeff Heichel, director of GM's Used-Vehicle Activities, says the automaker likely will expand the program in mid-December. But he says the
program probably will not extend to the 46 U.S. auctions that sell GM vehicles only to GM dealers in closed sales.
Heichel says the number of used vehicles GM plans to customize will be "moderate," depending on dealer demand. GM and its finance company, General Motors Acceptance Corp., remarket about 1 million used vehicles annually.
"Instead of one Grand Am after another that look pretty much the same, putting on a spoiler, changing the wheels or whatever gives it a different look and breaks up the monotony of several rental cars looking alike" in an auction lane, Heichel says.
"We're listening to what dealers say," he adds. "They speak loudly with their pocketbooks."
You may e-mail Arlena Sawyers at