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Are Used Car Startups A Threat To eBay Motors?

Cars have historically been a hard sell on the Internet, which is why for the last decade or so eBay Motors has had the lane to themselves, so to speak, when it comes to buying and selling used cars online.

But nowadays that is changing, as a host of car-focused startups with big valuations have big ambitions to disrupt eBay with a host of similar services.

And if Fortunes‘ reporting is accurate on the subject, it looks like some of them just might succeed. Total sales for eBay’s car and parts business dropped by 30 percent in the last half decade. In 2009, total gross merchandise volume for eBay Motors was $14 billion. It is hard to know exactly what the 2015 figure is since eBay stopped releasing eBay Motors sales volume in 2012. That said, about $10 billion is the going estimate for last year, coming care of Scot Wingo, president of eCommerce software company ChannelAdvisor.

Craigslist and an expanded menu of services from CarMax are part of the answer. Craigslist charges no fees, while eBay charges a list fee that is capped at $125.

Part of the answer are up and coming firms like Shift, Vroom and Beepi, which not only offer a platform to sell a car on, but also a host of services that sees a representative of the firm visit the seller to inspect the car, set a price, and list it for them. The platform, in fact, is what these startups seem to be skipping, instead leveraging the multiple possible sites where one could sell a car.

eBay, even in the face of the recent losses, remains a booster for the up-and-coming automotive startups, as it believes ultimately the opportunity they represent as traffic drivers will have value.

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