eBay Motors and GM Partnership Ends, but WheelsTV/eBay Deal Launched

General Motors quietly ended its deal to sell new vehicles (in California only) through eBay Motors yesterday. Neither GM nor eBay will say how many cars were sold in the program, but GM said it wasn't canceled because it was a failure. The company claims that 15 million people viewed its eBay offerings, but that doesn't say much of anything about actual sales.

GM told Leftlane News that it has other marketing priorities, including a 60-day money back guarantee and the "May the Best Car Win" promotion. "The need to roll out eBay nationally isn't there as it was when we rolled out the pilot [back in August]," said spokesman John McDonald.

But regardless of whether it will work to sell new cars, eBay Motors moves a lot of used vehicles. Consumers buying them long distance are understandably cautious about the whole thing: Are they asking the right questions about the cars they're looking at online? And that confusion created a business opportunity.

WheelsTV, a producer and distributor of independent new car video test drives, has teamed up with video technology company Ooyala on a market test of five-minute reviews that give consumers a thorough look at, say, the 2005 to 2009 Ford Mustangs and what to look for when buying one. The videos are licensed to eBay Motors and appear in the relevant online ads (look at a Mustang and the video appears on the right hand of the screen). Here's a sample: According to Lehel Reeves, president of WheelsTV, the videos include useful customer satisfaction information from J.D. Power and Associates, as well as safety information from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The arrangement with eBay Motors (launched last Monday) is not exclusive, and the videos will also soon appear on AOL Autos, J.D. Power's own site and at Vehix.com.

Reeves said that 40 of the videos (on the Mustang, the BMW 3-Series, the Honda Pilot and others), covering 200 model years, have so far been staff produced, using mostly proprietary footage from the company's archives, which stretch back 25 years. The company is producing 10 new videos a month, with the aim of covering most used car choices.

Automotive Networks Corporation, doing business as WheelsTV, works with such distribution partners as Chrome Systems, AutoData, JD Power & Associates, Yahoo, AOL, MSN, Cablevision, NADA Guides, Comcast, KIA, AutoTrader, AutoNation, Reynolds and Reynolds, Cobalt, Walmart, Babelgum, CarSoup, Talking Web, Blinkx, VUZE, AutoNet, Quebecor and some 40,000 auto dealers. The company produces 60 test drives and profiles monthly. Its specials include a series entitled "Wild About Wheels," which aired on Discovery, "Wheels," a series that was on some PBS affiliates, and Motor Trend Television, a series on Speedvision.