Hey Californians, planning to buy your next car on eBay?

ebayCalifornia residents can now bid on new General Motors cars and trucks through eBay's online marketplace. Approximately 250 GM dealers in California are selling Buick, Chevrolet, GMC and Pontiac vehicles on eBay Motors, and you can either use the "Buy It Now" option or make your best offer. You can browse 2008, 2009 and 2010 vehicles, ask dealers questions and figure out financing. Non-California residents can contact California dealers to see if they're willing to sell and ship vehicles to them -- and with the auto industry still in shambles, chances are they'll agree to that.

General Motors said they started the online car-buying trial in California because there are so many tech-savvy people here, and also because it's one state where company sales historically have not been so great. I can vouch for that, as most people I know in Northern California go for foreigh brands like Honda, Toyota, BMW and Saab. Even in "red" areas of the state like the Sierra Nevada foothills and the Central Valley, the Ford F-150 is the pickup truck of choice. While I too am planning to switch out my 10-year-old Volkswagen for a Honda or Toyota when the time comes, I had to give props to GM for breaking ground and being the first to use eBay as an auto marketplace, so I decided to check out the site.

First thing I noticed: not a lot of fuel-efficient cars for sale, and the 230-MPG Chevy Volt is still a ways off. The Chevy Aveo got the most mileage, at 27 MPG in the city, 34 MPG on the highway. Second thing: do your homework first. There's not a lot of description about the cars online, so I had to go elsewhere to find out what the differences were between a Tahoe and a Trailblazer. But all the participating dealers are giving discounts below the MSRP, although far more for pickups and trucks than for the smaller cars. And they're staying pretty close together on how much they'll discount for each brand -- checking 2009 Pontiac Solstices at dealers within a 100-mile radius of San Francisco (there were six), the biggest discount off MSRP was $3,973, the lowest was $3,522. Again, you've got a choice of "Buy It Now" or "Make Offer." On a lark, I bid $5,000 under the $39,341 offer on a 2009 Chevy Tahoe. Still waiting to hear back from the dealer.

So, my fellow Californians, have you been checking out GMs eBay site? Made any offers, and heard back from any dealers? Anyone actually bought a car today? Would love to get your feedback, and read what you think about this as a new way to buy a new car.

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