Geely, China's largest privately owned car maker, plans to sell cars specially designed for internet sales at Alibaba.com, the country's biggest online marketplace.

"If you don't try, you will never know if it will work or not," Geely Holdings founder and chairman Li Shufu told the Xinhua news agency on the sidelines of an internet forum.

Geely said it would launch an online edition of the Panda, a micro car popular among Chinese young white collar workers. Although it will be sold only online, buyers will enjoy the same services of a showroom buyer.

"Hopefully, our first online shop will open early next year," Liu Jinliang, vice president of the Hangzhou-based company, told Xinhua at the forum. "We have been planning this for a long time and we have already done some testing," Liu said.

Buying a car online may be novel in China, but it is nothing new in the United States.

John Donahoe, chief executive officer of eBay, said in Hangzhou last Friday that several thousand cars have been sold online via mobile devices in the US, including a US$250,000 Lamborghini.

Although there is no successful example in China, Liu believes it is the right time to start selling cars online as China has become the world's largest auto market.

China has more than 400m internet users of whom one third shop online.