DETROIT - This month's Ford-Yahoo! and GM-America Online alliances are further proof that auto companies will use the Web to engage in nonstop pursuit of customers, one analyst said.
The Web partnerships will track car and truck buyers throughout their vehicle ownership to promote a 'lifetime brand experience,' said Brian Ambrose, automotive and industrial director for consulting firm KPMG in Detroit.
'They realize that they need to move faster than ever to get closer to the consumer,' he said. 'And Internet technology will allow you to do that.'
Ford said it would team with Yahoo! Inc., the Internet portal, to offer vehicle owners a variety of Web-based services, including maintenance reminders, owner guides and traffic reports.
General Motors and America Online Inc. also will offer consumers personalized automotive information on the Web and will explore ways of distributing America Online content through OnStar.
KPMG surveyed about three dozen auto executives and analysts to gauge their outlook. Many see a future where operations will be slimmed down, speeded up and connected via the Web to suppliers, business customers and consumers. Many executives are studying the business models of companies such as Dell Computer Corp. or Cisco Systems Inc. for guidance.
'The time element will shrink in every process of putting together a car,' Ambrose said. 'We're just on the forefront of this change.'