GM Revs Up Its UK Site With Direct Online Sales

UK car manufacturer and General Motors unit Vauxhall Motors announced today that it will add an online buying service to its Web site November 1st and become the first automaker to sell new vehicles directly on the Internet.

Vauxhall will employ its network of dealers throughout England to deliver the new cars, but the dealers will not have to do any selling. Buyers who purchase online will have the cars delivered to their doorsteps within about a week of placing the order, the company says.

Buyers can also arrange financing for the purchase online and set up a test drive at their home. Auto owners will also be able to go online to sell their used Vauxhall cars back to the company.

“We believe we are the first manufacturer in the world, working with our retailers, to offer this service across a range of our products,” Vauxhall Chairman Nick Reilly said.

Dot-Com Cars

Vauxhall will initially put two of its Corsa, Astra and Vectra cars on sale, with plans to add other models later. Those three models are among 13 car and van models already featured on Vauxhall’s Web site, which until now has been designated primarily for disseminating information.

Prices for the cars will likely be lower than the prices buyers see in dealer’s showrooms, Vauxhall said, as the company will pass savings from the Internet’s lower marketing and distribution costs on to buyers of those cars. Exact prices and specifications for the line, which Vauxhall is calling its “dot-com cars,” will be announced next Tuesday at the London Motor Show.

Buyers will also be able to redeem points accrued through the GM credit card for up to 2,500 (about $4,100 US$) off the price of the new car.

The “dot-com line” will only be available on the Internet, but prospective buyers can get additional guidance from one of more than 500 Vauxhall dealers at any point, the company said.

By allowing customers to bring dealers into the mix, Vauxhall hopes to ease worries about buying high-ticket items like cars on the Internet. “Working with our dealers will ensure we can support a unique service to our customers who are attracted by the prospect of buying one of the dot-com models. They will also have the comfort of knowing that their vehicle will receive the same lifetime support as one bought in the traditional way,” Reilly said.

Overall GM Effort

Vauxhall’s new online sales push is part of General Motors’ overall effort to get more involved in electronic commerce. GM unveiled a new e-GM business unit in August to develop a site to host electronic shopping malls with real-time sales and car-buying information.

DaimlerChrysler also began working on an online auto sales program in August.

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