Suppliers will be the primary users, but dealers also will be able to buy goods and services through the new online purchasing and communications exchange being developed by Ford Motor Co., General Motors and DaimlerChrysler.
'We're in the process of extending an invitation to all of our dealers to participate in the new exchange,' said A. Alan Turfe, executive director of GM's TradeXchange.
Dealers should experience a significant reduction 'in the order of 30 to 40 percent' in the cost of products and services purchased on the joint exchange, he said. Ford will pitch the exchange to dealers, but DaimlerChrysler has not determined how dealers will fit. DCX is testing a separate online purchasing arrangement.
Alan Starling, a Chevrolet dealer in Kissimmee, Fla., and the GM industry relations chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, said he has not officially been contacted about using the new exchange. However, he believes most dealers would welcome an opportunity to participate.
Ford is beginning to pitch the online exchange to dealers, said Alice Miles, president of Ford Business to Business, the ConsumerConnect unit overseeing Ford's auto exchange.
The exchange, which will be operating by the end of June, will allow suppliers, dealers and automakers to buy parts and supplies through online catalogs posted on the exchange.
Dealers may even use the site's auction capability to obtain quotes for services, Miles said.
DaimlerChrysler began an online purchasing pilot program late last year with its dealers in Indianapolis.
Select dealers have been able to access a Five Star Market Center via the Internet from a personal computer and select from a wide range of business products, including health care, telephone services, advertising, computer equipment, maintenance, uniforms and office supplies. DaimlerChrysler's procurement, sales and marketing staffs run the center.
Ultimately, the automaker wants to develop regional centers for use by its dealers nationwide.
If getting dealers involved is high on the list of requirements for the new exchange, the Five Star Market Centers could serve as a template, said Jim Holden, president of DaimlerChrysler in North America.
'We are committed to the market center concept for our dealers, and I'll do it independent if I can't get it done in the exchange,' Holden said. 'If we do it in the exchange, I will prioritize the Five-Star guys.'
Ford, GM and DaimlerChrysler on Feb. 25 announced they would jointly develop an online exchange for purchasing and communications with their suppliers and dealers. It will be operated as a separate business.
Michael Woodyard contributed to this report