Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

The GM Car Bravo promotional poster is shown.

Will CarBravo Change the Way You Shop for a Car?

Depending on what you’re looking for in your next vehicle, and how you already prefer to shop for a car, the answer to that is “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.” Helpful, I know – but it really comes down to what you’re looking for and how you already do your shopping. GM’s new CarBravo service could be a great option that opens up new possibilities if you’re shopping for a used vehicle and have either never shopped online for a car or only dabbled in the process. But if you’re experienced with sites like Carvana, this isn’t necessarily revolutionary, though it’s nice to have another option.

Aside from what I consider a pretty uninspired name (seriously, “CarBravo” could be anything and really doesn’t make me take notice), GM is making a very smart–some would say inevitable–move in launching this new service. The only real drawback for them is that they’re pretty late to the game, but that’s not necessarily going to harm them too much. It will be interesting to see how they play catch-up with some of the other services out there and if their network of dealerships makes a big difference. Let’s take a look at what GM is doing with CarBravo and how it might change your approach to buying your next car.

What is CarBravo?

CarBravo is a new online car-buying service developed by General Motors and announced in January of this year. According to the explanatory and helpful infographic from GM, the idea is pretty simple:

“Huge Inventory, more choices + Shop from anywhere + Online or in-person + 100% certified pre-owned vehicles = A better used car experience”

Pretty straightforward, right? Essentially, CarBravo is GM’s response to other services like Carvana, which have carved out a huge market for themselves as online car sellers. Over the past year or so, sales of pre-owned vehicles have exploded mainly due to supply chain shortages and other issues that reduced the number of new cars available. Services like Carvana have aggressively been buying up used vehicles to grow their inventory and they’ve been taking business away from dealerships. According to numbers from Carvana, they sold more than 111,000 used vehicles just in the third quarter of 2021.

GM and a few other manufacturers have already tried to combat services like Carvana and provide support for their partnered dealerships. For example, last year, to keep more vehicles coming back to their dealerships, GM changed the terms of their vehicle leases to include a clause that requires all leased cars to be returned to a GM dealership at the end of the lease. Before this, lease customers could sell their vehicle to a third-party service, like Carvana, at the end of the term. According to Car and Driver, a spokesperson for GM has confirmed that this policy will remain in effect for the foreseeable future.

A person is shown online shopping for a vehicle.

How will CarBravo Help You Shop for a Car?

If you already have a lot of experience shopping for a vehicle online, you probably won’t experience a massive change in how you shop with the announcement and implementation of CarBravo. Like Carvana and other similar sites, CarBravo lets you use their website to shop for your next vehicle online. What this really does is create more competition in this market, which is a good thing, and provides you with additional options when you’re shopping.

Perhaps the best part of CarBravo, however, is that it includes GM’s network of dealerships across the country. This network gives you flexibility in how you shop and lets you take advantage of the best options across the board. You can shop exclusively through CarBravo, only work with a dealership if you prefer, or utilize both options. Look online for the vehicle you want, do your research and find what works for you, and then work with a local dealer to get that model–some dealerships will bring the vehicle to you for a test drive and then deliver it once the purchase is final.

The other advantage of CarBravo is that it will leverage the buying power and inventory that GM has access to in order to give you more options. Right now, according to Automotive News, GM dealerships in the US have more than 400,000 used vehicles available, while GM Financial (which handles things like leases) possesses another 500,000 models. In theory, at least, when you shop with CarBravo, you have access to this inventory of nearly 1 million used vehicles that should make it easier to find something perfect for you. You won’t be stuck with only what you can find at your local dealer, which is good news when inventories are still in rough shape at many dealerships due to the chip shortage and high demand for used models (neither of which are likely to let up soon).

Using Your Options

Getting the most from the new CarBravo service will likely come down to utilizing it as one of several options. Since pricing on used vehicles can vary so much from dealership to dealership, it’s important to shop around as much as possible when you’re buying a car. Traditionally, that meant going to different dealerships, comparing prices, and doing your best to haggle and negotiate one against the other. More recently, this involves browsing dealership inventories online, looking for options at different dealerships, and contacting them through email or similar methods to get the best price possible–you can still go with the old method, but you have more options.

Now, at least in theory, CarBravo offers another good option when shopping for vehicles and gives you access to a much wider inventory and selection of cars. As long as other services like Carvana can remain competitive and stay afloat, this will ultimately be advantageous as you’ll be able to shop at each and try to use them against each other in getting the best price possible. Of course, at the moment, that’s not going to be a ton of help since the prices on used vehicles are still much higher than they reasonably should be, but at least it’s something to look forward to.

A blue toy car is shown on a laptop.

Where Do We Go from Here?

Ultimately, more services like CarBravo are most likely a good thing, as they create more competition and give you more options when you’re shopping for a vehicle. The more tools you have for researching, looking at what’s out there, finding the right car, and having some leverage to negotiate the best price possible will make shopping easier. Of course, that’s assuming they remain competitive with each other and don’t work together to set prices against us as customers (looking at you cable TV), but only time will tell on that one. For now, I’ll remain optimistic.

I would assume that other manufacturers in the auto industry are watching this and seeing how things work out for GM with CarBravo. No one wants to be last to the table, but they don’t want to invest too heavily into something that ends up not being worth it either. I’m sure they all have some ideas or concepts worked out for similar services, but they may be waiting on actually deploying anything. The end result could be a shift from in-person dealerships to a purely virtual shopping experience at some point down the road, but until then, this is another tool to use when you’re shopping for your next car.