When the Cobalt Group announced it would create a business-to-business Web portal for auto dealers earlier this month, the Seattle company's stock price more than doubled to $24 per share.
Cobalt, known for creating dealer Web sites, is one of a growing number of companies to cash in on one of the hottest Internet trends - business-to-business exchanges or trading groups.
Ford Motor Co. and General Motors are forming exchanges with suppliers in a bid to reduce manufacturing and distribution costs.
Now the trend also has reached the auto retail sector.
The B2B groups, as they are called, easily could steal the show at the annual National Automobile Dealers Association convention this week in Orlando, Fla. Cobalt and others are promising dealers savings and convenience in shopping for parts, vehicles and services online. Here is a glance at some of the B2B companies making news:
Cobalt's Motorplace.com will collect vehicle and parts data from Cobalt's more than 12,000 dealer clients to create an online, dealer-to-dealer marketplace. The site will provide dealers with business management tools and information.
Autolink.com, launched at the NADA convention, offers dealers training courses, customer relationship marketing programs, service diagnostics and group discount purchasing, as well as links to other auto industry and media sites.
The Business to Business Commerce Network, known as BBCN.com, also has launched an Internet marketplace for dealers at the NADA convention. The exchange provides dealers with a real-time, online system for purchasing supplies from vendors.
Parts.com, an online parts exchange, has signed agreements with 11 new partners, including the Hendrick Automotive Group, a giant dealer chain based in Charlotte, N.C. Parts.com began a campaign promoting its B2B exchange Jan. 17.
AutoTradeCenter.com Inc. is offering buying, selling and trading services to dealers, auto leasing companies, auto rental companies and banks.
USAutoNews.com has created a B2B Internet portal for automotive manufacturers, dealers, suppliers and enthusiasts.
Donna Harris can be reached at [email protected] or at (202) 662-7218.