LOS ANGELES - Yet another company is seeking a niche in the rapidly changing world of automotive e-commerce.
DreamLot Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., plans to integrate bricks-and-mortar dealerships and existing online retail merchants into one comprehensive Internet shopping mall.
The company was founded by Michael Yang, whose previous Internet success was the creation of mysimon.com, which recently sold to CNet for $700 million.
President and CEO will be Bob Thomas, former president and CEO of Nissan Motor Corp. U.S.A. and a top executive with Republic Industries.
Yang and Thomas believe they have a different spin than other automotive e-commerce sites.
Dreamlot plans to list all 22,000 U.S. new-car dealerships on its site for free. It hopes to get most of those dealerships to provide fixed prices over invoice for specific model lines, which then can be listed on the DreamLot site along with prices from rival online dealerships. Consumers would be able to buy online at the DreamLot site.
For example, the DreamLot site might report Joe Smith Honda says it would sell Civics for $600 over invoice, Dave Jones Honda would sell for $800 over invoice and CarsDirect.com might ask $700 over invoice.
If a dealer chooses not to give its prices to DreamLot, the store's name and address still will be listed on the site, though without pricing.
'We promote dealerships, not hide them,' Yang said.
That's different than existing e-commerce sites, said Chris Marshall, DreamLot director of marketing.
Marshall said Autobytel.com refers customers only to dealerships that pay to be a part of Autobytel's network, and the customer still has to haggle with the dealership.
CarsDirect.com will sell a vehicle online but only from its own inventory and will not list rival dealerships.
Priceline.com allows a customer to enter a bid, but Priceline then must find a dealer willing to match that price.
With DreamLot, a dealer will not have to pay to be listed, and the site also will allow consumers to sell their used vehicles to dealers through an online trade-in process.
However, DreamLot plans to charge dealers for add-ons, such as placing it at the top-of-the-price listing, providing a link to the dealer's Internet site, or for ads that mention special deals the store might be having - a $19.95 oil change, for example.
DreamLot plans to test in Northern California within the next couple of months and go national by year end, Yang said. The company is seeking venture capital financing in Silicon Valley and wants to do an initial offering in 2001.