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Autobytel Will Test GM's Web Shopping System

Autos: Customers will be able to research vehicles and find local dealers carrying preferred models.

February 22, 2001|From Bloomberg News

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

Financial terms weren't 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. The GM division and the metropolitan area where the test will be done will be announced later, she said.

The test system will let shoppers search online for the model and features they want and then view a selection of cars and trucks from local dealers, said Autobytel.com Chief Executive Mark Lorimer. "It will show the actual cars in that market area that are available," with an "e-price" set by the dealer, Lorimer said.

Autobytel.com said it will provide GM dealers with training and customer-relations software for the test.

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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