Workers assemble an Opel Corsa at the Opel plant in Eisenach, Germany. German discount store Lidl will offer the car for just under euro11,000 on its Web site.
Andreas Rentz  /  Getty Images
Workers assembling an Opel Corsa car at the plant of car maker Opel on March 2, 2009 in Eisenach, Germany.
updated 3/9/2009 5:59:07 PM ET 2009-03-09T21:59:07

A German discount supermarket known for low-priced groceries and household goods expanded into new territory Monday by selling cars on its Web site.

Spokeswoman Petra Trabert said the Lidl supermarket chain's online shopping portal will offer the Opel Corsa for just under euro11,000 ($14,000) and the Volkswagen Cross Polo for euro14,000, ($17,700) — a discount of about 25 percent off the suggested retail price.

Lidl is launching the sales together with German car distributor ATG-Automobile GmbH.

"Lidl and ATG-Automobile GmbH work with the same target audience," Trabert said. "We are geared toward the customer who seeks quality in conjunction with a favorable price."

Germany's economy is in recession and unemployment is at 8.3 percent, but Lidl believes it can turn a profit in an industry that is bucking the economic downturn. New car sales were up 21 percent in February year-on-year, largely because of a euro50 billion ($67 billion) government stimulus plan that pays citizens euro2,500 ($3,250) to replace cars at least nine years old with new ones.

But Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, the director of the Center for Automotive Research in Gelsenkirchen, said previous efforts to sell cars online and through supermarkets have faltered.

"I think it will be very difficult for Lidl," Dudenhoeffer said. "People don't want to buy high-value products from a discount grocery store."

Dudenhoeffer said that Quelle, a German online marketplace, tried to sell cars online about five years ago.

"It didn't work, even though their site was visited fairly heavily," Dudenhoeffer said. He said Germans might be unwilling to forgo haggling over the price of a car.

"Germans like to go to the dealership," he said.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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