This is the kind of negotiating that a car buyer could get used to. Through Monday, eBay is selling at least 10 new cars per day in a very unique way: The asking price for each vehicle starts at MSRP—and then drops by $500 every hour until somebody buys.
Starting on Thursday at noon ET, eBay Motors launched what it’s calling a “New Car Revolution Devolution Sale.” It’s an auction, though not like the typical eBay auction in which prices rise with each new bid.
Instead, prices get cheaper the longer the auction goes on. Each car is first offered at the sticker price, and each hour that passes in which no one purchases the car, the price is lowered by $500. The process continues until someone clicks the “Buy It Now” button. By 3 p.m. on Thursday, for example, a 2012 Ford Escape was listed at $24,452—$2,000 less than the initial price ($26,452)—because no one had bitten yet. (The Escape eventually sold for $17,952.)
A total of 11 vehicles were offered for sale on Thursday, and all sold — usually for $7,000 or more under MSRP. A 2012 Nissan Frontier pickup truck wound up selling for $16,796, or a whopping $9,500 less than the sticker price, while a Chevy Malibu sold for $10,500 under MSRP.
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The 2012 models eBay is selling in this fashion include Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Malibu, Dodge Challenger, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Rogue, Toyota Prius, and Ford F-150. At least ten vehicles will be sold each day Thursday, July 28, through Monday, July 2, and eBay says there is no price floor for sales. Everything must go, as they say in the business. A spokesman explained the promotion’s concept to CNN Money:
“This sale was inspired by the classic Summer Blowout Sale you might find at a local dealer’s lot,” eBay Motors spokesman Danny Chang said. “We wanted to provide a modern version of that sale for tech-savvy shoppers.”
In addition to clicking on “Buy It Now,” it’s necessary to sign in as a registered eBay user and send in a $500 deposit via PayPal to snag a vehicle at the current list price.
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Whether or not eBay or its partner, the AutoNation national auto dealership group, will make money from the online blowout auction remains to be seen. Previously this year, the partners have paired up to sell cars at half price in order to draw the attention of the public, and the current promo is another obvious attempt to generate publicity and get consumers more comfortable with the idea of buying cars via the Web.
The online auction giant has its work cut out for it, as the vast majority of drivers seem to still want to kick the tires in person before making such a large purchase. In 2009, GM tried to sell new cars on eBay, but the automaker killed the program due to lack of interest and low sales just two months after it launched.
Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.