Case Study: New Product Launch


In 1999, General Motors (GM) launched GM BuyPower with significant fanfare, hoping to revolutionize the car buying experience. However, it quickly became apparent that the platform did not resonate with the average internet shopper. Instead of providing a truly innovative shopping experience, GM BuyPower functioned primarily as an online brochure, leaving customers to navigate the complexities of negotiating a deal on their own.

By 2001, GM was contemplating a new joint venture that aimed to create a marketplace offering not just online pricing but also actual vehicle inventory. Given the disappointing performance of GM BuyPower, GM recognized the need for external expertise to ensure the success of this new venture. Autobytel, a leader in the online automotive space and an acknowledged expert in lead generation, was brought in to provide the necessary know-how.


Collaborating closely with the GM team, I spearheaded the development of a proof-of-concept site for Chevrolet in the Washington, D.C. region, dubbed the “Chevy Showroom.” My team was tasked with overseeing the architecture, technology, user experience, and design of the new platform. We engineered a sophisticated system capable of importing detailed information for every vehicle from GM dealerships across the United States every night. This data included configuration details (such as options and packages), dealer add-ons, and both invoice and sticker pricing.

With this comprehensive dataset, we developed a website that empowered consumers to search for cars with the exact options they desired, print a virtual window sticker, and reserve their chosen vehicle at a preferred dealership. This innovative approach marked the first time that users could view the invoice, sticker, and discounted actual price of a vehicle online, providing unprecedented transparency and convenience in the car buying process.

The journey was not without challenges. GM held several misconceptions about how the site should function, necessitating a period of education on effective online shopping behaviors. Through our guidance, we successfully steered GM towards creating a superior user experience that exceeded customer expectations.

“We sold more cars in the first day with the Chevy Showroom than we sold in our entire first month with GM BuyPower!”

– Vice President of U.S. Sales and Service, General Motors


The impact of the Chevy Showroom was immediate and profound. Within the first 24 hours, the platform facilitated more vehicle sales than GM BuyPower had achieved in its entire first month. This was particularly impressive given that GM BuyPower had been launched nationally, supported by thousands of dealerships across all GM brands and bolstered by an extensive media campaign. In contrast, the Chevy Showroom was test-marketed in Washington, D.C., with only a handful of Chevrolet dealers and minimal advertising—a single link from Autobytel inviting users to try the new site.

Due to the initial success, the trial period for the Chevy Showroom was extended from 90 days to six months. During this extended period, the platform sold more vehicles than GM BuyPower had since its inception. Despite the trial’s success, GM ultimately decided not to pursue the model further due to competitive concerns from dealers.

In summary, the Chevy Showroom project not only demonstrated the potential for a more effective and customer-centric online car buying experience but also highlighted the importance of understanding and adapting to consumer behavior in the digital age. The collaboration between GM and Autobytel showcased the transformative power of combining industry expertise with innovative technology to meet and exceed market expectations.

About GM

General Motors Company, commonly referred to as General Motors (GM), is an American multinational corporation headquartered in Detroit that designs, manufactures, markets, and distributes vehicles and vehicle parts, and sells financial services, with global headquarters in Detroit’s Renaissance Center. It was originally founded by William C. Durant on September 16, 1908 as a holding company. The company is the largest American automobile manufacturer, and one of the world’s largest. As of 2018, General Motors is ranked #10 on the Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue. GM is incorporated in Delaware.

General Motors manufactures vehicles in 37 countries; its core automobile brands include Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac. It also either owns or holds a significant stake in foreign brands such as Holden, Wuling, Baojun, and Jiefang. Annual worldwide sales volume reached a milestone of 10 million vehicles in 2016.

About AutoCentric

GM announced in February 2001 that it was forming a $50 million company called AutoCentric, which was supposed to set up an Internet car sales business for GM and its dealers. GM planned for the venture to also sell vehicles from other manufacturers.

The auto manufacturer had planned to fund AutoCentric by selling half the company for $25 million to GM’s 7,800 dealers and providing another $25 million itself. But in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Dec. 18, GM said it was abandoning the entire effort.

The original offer was withdrawn “due to a determination that the business model is not viable at this time,” according to GM.