As we reported last week, we've learned that eBay Motors is going full speed ahead with local. Now we have more info. Within four to six months, sources tell us that the auction leader will be launching a full-fledged, re-branded local auto site. The site will including a full range of auto-related listings, services (oil changes, detailing, etc.), coupons, a new look and feel, improved search functionality (product vs. listings) and significantly more content.
It gets better. The local vision of eBay apparently goes beyond autos and directly affects newspapers and Yellow Pages. Autos may, in fact, be just the tip of the iceberg for eBay and local. The company, which is looking to regain its growth profile, is said to be cooking up a major local initiative that will "encompass the entire category structure."
If so, it will probably seek to leverage various classified holdings. The company owns 25 percent of Craigslist and has several international classified efforts, including Kijiji, Gumtree.com, LoQUo.com, Intoko, Netherlands-based Marktplaats.nl, and German automotive classified site mobile.de. Our guess is that Craigslist isn’t part of the mix — eBay has been strictly hands off. But expect to see aspects of the other services pop up here.
Our sources additionally tell us that a Wall Street Journal Online feature by Jennifer Saranow and Mylene Mangalindan on eBay's local ambitions from November 2005 is still "pretty close to the mark." The article notes that eBay is expanding beyond its traditional middleman role and will be "aiming to take over the phone book’s customary role as the first place people turn to find local services from housecleaners to accountants."
We asked eBay about all this. A corporate spokesperson only noted that "we cannot comment on speculation about what might happen in the future."