GM and eBay End Online Sales Experiment

Less than two months after GM and eBay hooked up to try online sales of new carsin California, CNBC has learned the program will end as scheduled tomorrow.

GM says the trial program has run its course and it will evaluate the results to see what it can learn about selling cars through eBay.

Does this mean the joint venture was a failure? No. It was an intriguing idea that delivered plenty of interest for GM vehicles. But keeping the GM/eBay relationship going in California and perhaps expanding it nationally is not something GM is prepared to do right now.

When GM CEO Fritz Henderson announced the trial program between the auto maker and eBay this summer, it was heralded as a bold and innovative move by an automaker coming out bankruptcy and promising not to do business as usual. And to be sure, the GM/eBay web site attracted plenty of visitors (1.5 Million) and generated a lot of searches of the GM inventory (roughly 2 million). As for actual sales, that's tougher to track. GM says the joint web site generated 15,000 direct leads to dealers. But because the consumers behind those leads don't always tell the dealer they first started their search on the web, it's hard to know how many sales can directly be linked to this program?

Still, GM has decided that for now, the business generated through is not worth continuing the program. Given the success of used car sales through eBay motors and other web sites, what do we make of GM and eBay ending this joint venture? It confirms the web remains a great tool for researching and looking for a car. When it comes to sparking new car sales though, the automakers may find the existing structure of various web sites generating leads and attracting buyers does as well as a separate joint venture web site through an on-line company like eBay. Keep in mind, GM has had success and continues to sell its certified used cars through eBay. And some day GM and eBay could revive this new car site. But for now, GM will use its other web programs to push its cars, trucks and SUV's

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