Though Autoweb.com has been known primarily as an online buying service for consumers, the company has made substantial strides in the business-to-business arena through its subsidiary, the Automotive Information Center.
Autoweb.com just snagged AutoNation.com of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as a client, providing the nation's largest dealership group with Internet technology and content through AIC. Dean DeBiase, chairman of the Santa Clara, Calif., Internet company, says Autoweb.com already provides 90 percent of the auto manufacturers' Web sites with research, technology or content.
The goal is to diversify revenues, most of which come from the fees dealers pay for online sales leads. Dealer fees are 60 percent now, but Autoweb.com's goal is for the fees to be 50 percent of revenues. Relationships such as the alliance with AutoNation are more profitable than a simple online referral service, DeBiase explains.
But the bottom line has yet to benefit from alliances with heavyweights. Autoweb.com's third quarter net loss was more than double its net loss in the comparable quarter last year. And the company cited some serious problems - lack of dealer network growth, site performance issues and lower-than-expected financial performance of online alliances. One of its partners, CarOrder.com, shut down.
DeBiase believes that Autoweb.com will be profitable in the first half of next year and that there still are investors who pour money into the company. Then again, even optimistic investors are eventually going to want to see some black ink.
In other dot-com news:
General Motors has enhanced its GMBuyPower.com shopping service, adding GM Certified Used Vehicles to its online inventory of more than 1 million new vehicles.
The National Automobile Dealers Association Retirement Trusts will provide online financial advice to 401(k) plan members at car dealerships through mPower, an online financial advice provider.
CarloansOK.com, which provides automotive financing to consumers, launched its Web site Oct. 18.
You can reach Staff Reporter Donna Harris at (540) 668-7295 or [email protected]