FordDirect.com has postponed its launch a second time after hitting some legal snags in California, where the Web site was to begin a state-by-state rollout.
FordDirect.com is an online vehicle buying service jointly owned by Ford Motor Co. and 3,194 of its 4,080 eligible dealers. The original launch was to be in September but was postponed to October. Now David Kain, FordDirect.com's COO, has e-mailed dealers saying the enterprise is on hold until December.
'Our sensitivity to meet every detail of California legal guidelines to ensure our dealers and partners are not positioned in harm's way has resulted in extending our timeline to late fourth quarter,' wrote Kain. 'We are using the time to clear hurdles.'
The enterprise breaks legal ground in California. Though the state does not ban factory stores, it prohibits factories from competing against their own dealers within a 10-mile radius.
The restriction includes joint ventures between factories and dealers. But the California statute assumes these joint ventures are bricks-and-mortar operations. It will be interesting to see how California deals with FordDirect.com.
In other dot-com news:
Cars.com, a Chicago online buying service, has signed an agreement for BestOffer.com of San Francisco to provide a variety of services to used-car shoppers, including a vehicle inspection service. The BestOffer.com services are available in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Jose, Calif.
Autoweb.com, a consumer automotive Internet service in Santa Clara, Calif., has come out with a package of research tools called AIC AutoSuite. The tools, called AutoResearcher, AutoBuilder, AutoComparator and AutoAdvantages, allow consumers to do such things as searches based on safety and performance to price comparisons of vehicles from competing dealers.
Jaguar.com has launched a Web site feature that allows prospective Jaguar owners to build, see and accurately price the car of their dreams.
You can reach Staff Reporter Donna Harris at (540) 668-7295 or [email protected]