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GM, eBay Start Trial Partnership in California

Emerging from bankruptcy protection with a new plan, GM today announced the start of the eBay partnership it mentioned in July, whereby new car buyers can haggle with dealers online without ever having to deal with them in the showroom.

Starting Aug. 11 and running through Sept 8, 2009, nearly all of GM’s 250 California dealers will take part in the experiment. Brands such as Buick, Chevrolet, GMC and Pontiac vehicles will be offered on cobranded Web sites through eBay Motors, such as gm.ebay.com, as well as eBay’s main site.

Consumers will have the option to buy a given vehicle at a set price or haggle for a better one. The only time the customer would set foot in the dealership is when they go to pick up their new car.

Dealers in California already use eBay Motors to sell used inventory, and many see this as an extension of that process. If the trial goes well, the program could be expanded nationally.

The move gives credibility to eBay Motors because it’s now associated with a major automaker. Consumers however question the benefit to GM of haggling online this way.

While automakers have been known to partner on the design and production of certain vehicles from time to time, GM has now been involved in two unique partnerships that go beyond typical industry practices.

Earlier this year GM raised eyebrows when they announced a partnership with Segway for the PUMA (Personal Urban Mobility & Accessibility), a two-seat version of Segway’s basic mobile transporter that uses GM technology in addition to their own proprietary guidance system.

This marks the first time one of Detroit’s Big Three automakers will use an online auction site for new car sales.

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