The global online auction eBay is giving auto dealers a localized approach to selling used vehicles.
The company's eBay Motors division is testing a program called Local Market. It offers used cars and trucks to consumers within 100 miles of their ZIP codes.
Company officials say they designed the program primarily for new-vehicle dealers who list 50 or more used vehicles on eBay. It allows sellers to list an unlimited number of vehicles each month for a flat rate. It also encourages direct negotiation of vehicle prices, unlike eBay's traditional bidding environment.
The company would not say how many dealers sell vehicles on eBay. It says more than 2 million vehicles have been sold on the site.
The program operates in four markets: Chicago, Miami, Seattle and Washington. Rob Chesney, senior director of eBay Motors, says the company plans to launch Local Market nationally by early 2007.
Chesney told Automotive News the program will help dealers sell used mass-market vehicles that might languish in eBay's auction format.
"A 3-year-old Honda Accord -- there are thousands of these in a local market," he says. "It doesn't need an auction. It needs a way for the buyer and seller to quickly get to a price they agree upon."
Local Market enables potential used-vehicle buyers to narrow searches by ZIP code. It first lists vehicles that national sellers offer near users' homes. Next are vehicles listed by Local Market sellers. The latter vehicles are listed with a "best offer" price to encourage negotiation.
Chesney says eBay charges dealers in the test markets varying amounts to list vehicles with Local Market. Sellers usually pay eBay $40 to list a vehicle on the auction site and another $40 when a customer buys it. They pay more to get prominent listings and display photos.
John Jones, used-car manager at Deel Volvo-Volkswagen-Saab in Miami, says he has sold about 100 vehicles on eBay Motors in the past three years. Last month, he says, he began paying $200 a month for unlimited vehicle listings with Local Market.
His first sale, he says, was a "yellowish-green" 2004 Saturn Ion that he had advertised for seven weekends in the local newspaper without success. A woman who lives 60 miles from the dealership bought the car three days after he listed it with the local eBay Motors program, Jones says.
"That is not a car I would have put on eBay," Jones says. "Somebody in Atlanta does not need to come to south Florida to buy a Saturn. I think Local Market is going to work out well."
You may e-mail Arlena Sawyers at [email protected]