eBay Launches Online Auto Market

eBay Inc. Tuesday launched a new site featuring person-to-person sales of used cars.

As part of the deal, eBay is taking an undisclosed stake in Autotrader.com, an online retailer of used cars. The two companies will jointly operate the site. Financial terms of the investment were not disclosed.

Meg Whitman, eBay’s president and chief executive officer, said vehicles have grown to become one of the most popular categories on the auction site.

“With AutoTrader.com’s extensive inventory of used cars and dealer relationships, we plan to deliver the Internet’s largest listing of used cars in an auction format, as well as the ancillary services that make this a ‘must visit’ site if you are thinking about buying or selling a car,” she said.

AutoTrader President Chip Perry said the companies hope the site will grow to become a practical way for individuals to buy and sell cars to individuals in and around their communities. He said the site offers dealers the opportunity to gain a new distribution channel and decrease advertising in traditional media, such as newspaper classifieds.

eBay (EBAY) will be responsible for hosting the online market and its staff will provide customer service. The market will also offer eBay’s SafeHarbor trust services which protect both buyers and sellers from fraud and other problems.

The companies plan to eventually roll out financing options and vehicle certification.

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