GM tests new sales pitch on eBay

General Motors Company Chairman Edward E. Whitacre, Jr. (R) poses at the GM World Headquarters in front of a Cadillac SRX Crossover, along with GM CEO Fritz Henderson, in front of a Chevrolet Camaro, in Detroit, Michigan July 9, 2009. REUTERS/John F. Martin-General Motors/Handout

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors and its dealers are aiming for a test program with eBay Inc in California that would allow customers to bid on new vehicles or buy them at a predetermined price online, the automaker said on Friday.

EBay said it has been in discussions with GM, which emerged from bankruptcy on Friday as a much smaller automaker, to identify ways to help dealers market vehicles but no plans had been finalized at this time.

“We are excited about a potential new adventure that supports GM’s dealers by expanding on how they already reach consumers through new approaches,” eBay said in a statement.

GM Chief Executive Fritz Henderson said earlier on Friday that the automaker was working on ways to “revolutionize” the way that people buy vehicles on line including a partnership with eBay in California.

“We’ll be testing this and other ideas with our dealers over the next few weeks and hope to expand and build upon them in the coming months,” Henderson said in a statement.

The West Coast, which has been dominated by import brands over the past several years, has been the weakest regional market for the U.S. auto industry overall in recent months under the crushing impact from the economic downturn.

“Experiments are experiments ... You don’t roll them out until you figure out if they work,” Henderson told reporters. “We are excited about it, but I wouldn’t commit to rolling it out more broadly until we find out if it’s successful.”

EBay shares rose 21 cents, or 1.3 percent, to close at $16.30 Friday on the Nasdaq.

Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Bernard Orr