The folks at AutoConnect believe they have conquered the used-car market on the Internet. Now they have set their sights on new vehicles.
Earlier this month, AutoConnect, the Internet joint venture between Manheim Auctions Inc. and the Dealer Service Group of Automatic Data Processing Inc., launched a new-vehicle pilot program in the Phoenix market. Through the program, visitors to the AutoConnect Web site, autoconnect.com, can request vehicle price quotes from about 70 participating dealers.
At a press conference at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention, AutoConnect President Chip Perry said the addition of new vehicles to what has been exclusively a used-vehicle Web site makes sense because many consumers searching for late-model used vehicles also are interested in new vehicles.
But unlike the free used-vehicle postings that AutoConnect offers dealers, Perry said participating in the new-vehicle price quote service will carry a cost per customer lead generated. He said the cost will be determined based on experience from the Phoenix pilot.
AutoConnect currently provides its services to about 12,000 franchised new-car dealers and 19,000 independent used-car dealers. In January, the AutoConnect site generated 35,000 sales leads for those dealers, up about 40 percent from January 1998.
Perry expects many of those new-car dealers to sign on with the new-vehicle service by year end.
Unlike some other automotive broker sites that connect dealers with customers, Perry said AutoConnect will allow dealers to negotiate prices with customers.