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Autobytel, GM Team Up for Online Test

February 22, 2001|From Bloomberg News

Autobytel.com Inc. agreed to test a new General Motors Corp. system that lets Internet customers search for GM vehicles, check prices and choose a dealer in their area, the Irvine online car-shopping service said Wednesday.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

GM disclosed this month that it planned to form an independent online sales venture to tap a growing number of car buyers who turn to the Internet to help research and purchase cars.

GM said the test will help it develop a strategy for offering its products on independent Web sites like Autobytel.com's that sell all makes and models.

Already, 54% of new-vehicle buyers use the Internet to help research and purchase cars, and that's expected to grow to 73% by 2003, GM said in a Feb. 2 report on its planned joint online sales venture, known as AutoCentric JV.

"Customers have a 3-to-1 preference for multi-branded sites over single-brand manufacturers' sites," said Michael Devereux, director of business development for General Motors' Internet unit, EGM. "We need to be in both spots."

Autobytel.com plans to start the 90-day test May 1 with a division of the world's largest auto maker, said Melanie Webber, spokeswoman for the Irvine company.

Autobytel.com shares rose 6 cents to $2.31 in Nasdaq trading. GM fell $1.09 to $52.46 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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