DETROIT -- A new General Motors program supplies auctions with used vehicles that the automaker has prepared cosmetically for retail sale. But it leaves mechanical reconditioning of the vehicles to dealers.
The program is called "GM Sponsored Plus." It consists of cars and trucks that are in good condition and no more than three model years old, says Jeff Heichel, director of GM Used-Vehicle Activities.
GM hires auctions to fix dings, dents, scratches and minor body damage before vehicles are sold. The auctions also clean and recondition interior fabric and leather.
Heichel says GM aims the program at dealerships that don't have body shops or that want their shops to concentrate on major mechanical work.
Some dealers are uncomfortable with having auctions do mechanical work on used vehicles, Heichel says, because they cannot see those repairs before they buy the vehicles.
Dealers "have to take the tires off, look at the brakes and put it up on a hoist," he says. "They can't see that when it goes down the auction lane."
GM also hopes the program will boost the prices of its used vehicles, Heichel adds.
The program started Nov. 15 at the 46 U.S. auctions that sell GM used vehicles only to GM dealers.
How many vehicles get "Sponsored Plus" treatment will depend on dealer response, Heichel says. The program could cover as many as half of the vehicles offered at some auction sites, he estimates.
"The dealers can pay the money or not, but I have to recover my cost," Heichel says. "If they don't, that tells me I made too many cars 'GM Sponsored Plus.' We'll find its level."
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