The number of Internet sites dedicated to selling used cars and trucks has grown so quickly, it must be difficult for the target audience - dealers and consumers - to keep them all straight.
Each site claims to be the first ... the only ... the biggest ... the most ... the best...
Superlatives aside, the world of used-vehicle e-commerce holds some interesting business models, each with a different twist.
It makes you wonder which ones will be around for the long haul and which ones will crash and burn somewhere along the information superhighway.
Here is a quick rundown of some of the players.
Among the most prominent used-vehicle sites is AutoTrader.com. It is one of the nation's largest online used-car classified services with more than 1.5 million listings from more than 40,000 franchised and used-car dealers and 250,000 private sellers.
Then there is CarDay.com, an auction site that links consumers and institutional buyers and sellers with the dealer in the middle.
Stoneage.com, an Internet referral company, has acquired autoXsell, a sales and marketing company that conducts three-day used-vehicle sales for new-car dealerships.
Stoneage.com President Mark Campbell said the company can pinpoint thousands of shoppers in any given area, pre-qualify them in terms of the brand and model-year vehicle they are seeking and invite them to a dealership's 'used-car fair.'
Some sites, such as Autodaq.com, are for dealers only. Others sites, such as iMotors.com and OneGoodCar.com, are aimed squarely at consumers and totally bypass dealers.
Despite the wonders of the Internet, buying and selling used vehicles is still a touchy-feely experience.
Two 1998 Ford Tauruses may have been created equal, but two years later they are totally different cars.
Dealers worry that they will get stuck with a vehicle that has been in a major accident or a flood. As one dealer pointed out, used vehicles even smell different.
Will people ever become as comfortable 'clicking' the tires as they do kicking them? Probably not. But some of those online selling models will survive; some of those companies are going to get it right.
Arlena Sawyers can be reached at [email protected] or at (313) 446-0380