DETROIT - The Detroit Auto Dealers Association has opened an Internet database for used cars: www.dadacars.com.
The Web site was unveiled April 21 with a TV, radio and print ad campaign. President Russ Shelton said the dealer association is spending $500,000 to promote the site, which is a joint venture with Detroit Newspapers, the company that runs Detroit's two daily newspapers, The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press.
Of the association's 242 member dealers, about 80 were online as of Tuesday, April 28, said Rod Alberts, executive director of the association. About 1,000 vehicles were listed on the site, said Alberts.
The Detroit association is one of a handful of metropolitan dealer associations to create used-car Web sites. Dealer groups are trying to compete with used-car superstores and Internet shopping services by offering electronic shopping.
Of the more than 100 state, metropolitan and regional dealer associations listed on the National Automobile Dealers Association Web site, about 25 percent have Web sites that may be reached directly from the NADA site.
Only a handful of those sites have used-car shopping functions. Some are just dealer locators that connect Internet shoppers to individual dealer Web sites, while others are more involved. The Idaho Automobile Dealers Association, for example, lets shoppers apply for credit online. That function was not accessible, however, when Automotive News checked the Web.
The Greater Cleve-land Automobile Deal-ers Association launched a used-car site in 1996 and is relaunching it now.
'It's something you've obviously got to change constantly,' said Matt Dougher, vice president of the Cleveland group. About 35 dealers are on the Cleveland site.
The advertising slogan for the Detroit site is: 'It's the best way to buy a used car.'
Dealers pay a nominal fee to list their vehicles on the site - averaging about $2 per car with a 75-car minimum, said John Sackrison, director of government relations for the Detroit association.
Vehicles listed on the site also appear on the Web sites of the two newspapers; they do not appear in the classified advertising sections.
Customers can search for vehicles based on seven criteria: make, model, price range, year, mileage, category and dealership. Maps to dealerships are provided along with direct access to dealer Web sites. Dealerships that do not yet have their own Web sites can advertise cars on this site by faxing lists to the dealer association. The association will help dealers build Web sites.
Also included is a program to help customers calculate loan schedules and financing.