SHANGHAI (AdAgeChina.com) -- Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. plans to sell its cars via the internet to expand sales.
The privately-held Chinese automaker will partner with with China's largest e-commerce platform, Alibaba Group, which operates the web site alibaba.com.
A Geely spokesman said the recently-signed deal allows the automaker to market vehicles directly to 20 million registered Alibaba.com users, who are mostly small-business owners.
The customer can use the web site to select options and negotiate a price, the spokesman said. "Then they can go to the nearest Geely dealership showrooms to check out the car before making the buying decision."
Online car sales is still an unproven marketing concept in China. Chery Automobile Co. has previously experimented with it, without notable success.
Geely, which recently bought Volvo Cars from Ford Motor Co. for RMB 12.2 billion ($1.8 billion), is rapidly expanding its lineup of brands. Now it has to figure out how to sell them.
Geely's first brand to be sold online will be its Emgrand sedans, which are designed for family use.
Last year, Geely launched an Emgrand EC7 sedan and hatchback with a starting price of RMB 75,800 ($11,131). The company will introduce a slightly larger model, the EC8, later this year.
Geely also plans to sell its Gleagle Panda small car online. The Panda targets young consumers who like sporty and dynamic designs.
To further boost sales, the automaker aims to expand its dealership network from about 800 dealerships today to 900 dealerships.
Its three brands -- Emgrand, Gleagle and Shanghai Englon -- each will have 300 dealerships.
The Shanghai Englon brand includes the London taxi, produced by the Geely-controlled subsidiary Manganese Bronze, plus vehicles mainly for business use.
Geely sold 153,229 vehicles in the first four months of this year, up 56% from a year earlier, according to Automotive Resources Asia, a J.D. Power unit.