We're on the Web. And it's a whole new business.
If you have a minute, click onto www.automotivenews.com. You'll find highlights from this week's Automotive News, plus some commonly requested data, access to the past 22 months' worth of stories, classified advertising and a lot of other listings and information.
It's the first, preliminary phase of a site that will grow largely according to your dictates. For the past year or so, I've been receiving e-mails daily from people asking for (or, more often, demanding) a good, interactive Automotive News Web site. As Rodney Dangerfield says, 'This is a tough crowd.' But it's also a knowledgeable crowd.
Many of our e-hungry readers want it online now; they want it to cover all their needs, and they want it good. So let me confess right now: This site is not the greatest thing since sliced bread. It can be very helpful, but it won't immediately solve all your needs for information. We're working on it. This march of a thousand miles has begun with a single cyber-step or two.
Yes, the Internet has unleashed a massive change in the ability to communicate. 'Universal connectivity' is an unimaginably powerful business tool, and Automotive News aims to be in the middle of the revolution. (One speed bump on the way to technological progress: A few noncurrent versions of Internet browsers, such as Netscape 4.3 and 4.4, won't work with the site yet; the good news is that you can upgrade the browser easily.)
Look at all that's happening in the auto industry today. Dealers are selling and financing cars via the Internet. Automakers conduct online bidding for purchasing commodities. Supply chains are managed and streamlined online. The Internet can take countless dollars out of what used to be expensive, time-consuming paperwork transactions.
Does the Web change everything? No. Car dealers still will sell and service cars, although armed with this powerful new medium for connecting with their customers. And the newspaper that you have in your hand right now will continue to provide more timely auto industry news and information every week than any other medium - at least for the foreseeable future.
We're on the Web. It's a tough taskmaster. But we're giving it the resources to become an exciting, interactive site for information, services and dialog. Let us know your needs. This is a work in progress, and it's an exciting time.
Peter Brown can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]