DETROIT -- General Motors Co. will not extend its online sales experiment with eBay, a project announced just after the automaker emerged from its 39-day bankruptcy.
The partnership to sell new GM vehicles on the eBay Motors Web site began Aug. 11 for consumers in California. GM had planned to finish the program Sept. 8 but early this month extended the experiment through the end of the month. The automaker said it would evaluate whether to roll out the initiative nationally at the end of September.
GM doesn’t need to extend the program because it now has its “May the Best Car Win” ad campaign and its 60-day money-back guarantee, spokesman John McDonald said today. Those are nationwide initiatives that accomplish the same purpose of the California eBay pilot -- increasing awareness and consideration of GM vehicles, he said.
“The need to roll eBay out nationally isn’t there as it was when we first rolled out the pilot,” McDonald said. “At the time we had no large, national marketing programs in the system, so that made sense at the time.
“What we’ve come up with since then are two large, national programs that are already in place.”
McDonald called the eBay pilot “very successful.” The 16,000 vehicles listed by California dealers generated more than 15,000 leads, he said. More than 1.5 million visitors looked at GM’s section of the site, performing 1.9 million eBay searches.
The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that GM was not extending the eBay program. GM might consider a similar lead-generating program with eBay in the future, McDonald said, but currently has no plans to do so.
GM announced its eBay partnership July 10, when it emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Increasing interest in its cars remains necessary for the automaker, whose U.S. light-vehicle sales through August had declined 35.1 percent from 2008. That includes a 20.1 percent drop in August sales from year-earlier results – a decline that was worse than GM’s 19.4 percent slide in July.
Despite GM’s slip, the overall U.S. annual sales rate rose in August to 13.7 million units, the highest level since August 2008. Industry sales that month rose 1 percent, their first year-over-year increase since October 2007.
When it extended the eBay pilot into September, GM said about 4,000 eBay shoppers had entered into negotiations in August -- either online, over the phone or in person -- to buy a vehicle from one of the 225 California dealers listing cars on the site. The automaker did not say how many of those shoppers bought a vehicle.
Richard Truett contributed to this report