New General Motors CEO Fritz Henderson now appears to jump the gun by announcing a deal with e-commerce giant eBay as the automaker emerged from bankruptcy on Friday.


The automaker had said it was working on new ways to make buying a car more convenient, including forging a partnership with eBay in California to sell new cars on its eBay Motors auction site.


“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.


But late on Friday, eBay told The New York Times (NYT) that no deal had been reached.


“At this time, no plans have been finalised with General Motors,” Rob Chesney, vice president of eBay Motors and Marketplaces, told the paper in a statement. “We are excited about a potential new adventure that supports GM’s dealers by expanding on how they already reach consumers through new approaches.”


A GM communications chief, Tom Pyden, told the NYT that the companies had been in long-term discussions and that a partnership was in the works.


He emphasised that GM dealers, not the company itself, would list new cars on eBay.


“We will not be selling directly to customers,” he said. “We are looking for ways to make it easier for customers to shop and buy our products on their time, on their terms.”


GM said the test with eBay would let customers either buy new cars at auction or at a fixed price using eBay’s ‘Buy It Now’ option. But it was unclear whether that fixed price would differ from the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, and how GM would react if auction prices were well below that price.


One GM dealer told the paper he had already talked with the company about the programme and was excited about it.


The dealer, Inder Dosanjh, who owns Dublin Chevrolet outside San Francisco, said listing new cars on eBay would allow his dealership to get in front of customers who were doing most of their car shopping on the internet. He said that would include some people who might not have otherwise considered a GM car.


For customers, he added, shopping on eBay could take some of the pressure off the negotiation process. “One of the fears the customer has when they walk in the door is that they are going to pay too much for a car,” Dosanjh told the New York Times.


“If they are negotiating a deal on eBay, from their living room, they are in their comfort level.”


Ken Elias, an auto analyst at Maryann N Keller and Associates, said: “The point GM was trying to make, really, was to show that it is not going to be locked into the way things were in the past.


“They are going to try new things, some that will work, some that won’t, and they are not going to be fearful.”