Dealers in one region of Ford Motor Co.'s Dealer Development program will test a used-car online auction site to determine whether it can be used elsewhere.
Capital City Ford of Lawrenceville, N.J., will be the first of two dealerships to try Driveitaway.com in Ford's Philadelphia region, said James Latimer, the business management representative who oversees the region.
Randall West, president of Capital City Ford, said he expects to have his inventory on the site today, Dec. 11.
Driveitaway.com of Audubon, N.J., is a dealer-to-consumer used-vehicle auction site that is bringing off-lease vehicles normally sold at wholesale auctions to consumers via the Web.
Latimer said he hopes the site will help dealers sell more used vehicles, especially older ones and those that do not fit the dealers' customer base.
If the site proves successful, Latimer said he would roll it out to other dealers in the region and suggest to Ford that dealers in other dealer development regions might benefit from the program.
There are 26 dealer development dealerships in the Philadelphia region.
Free to dealers
Dealers pay nothing to list vehicles on the site. They pay 3 percent of the vehicles' selling price to Driveit-
away.com once a vehicle is sold.
'I look at the Internet as interactive advertising,' Latimer said. 'Instead of paying 5 to 10 percent to take it to auction, we'll see if we can sell it for 3 percent.'
Latimer said the pilot would run for 60 to 90 days before offering it to the rest of the group. A second dealership in Massachusetts is expected to begin testing the program in January, he said.
Darryl Draper and Stacy Ratner started Driveitaway.com in late October.
Under the program, Driveitaway.com creates a page for the dealer that can be accessed via www.driveitaway.com or through the dealer's Web site. Consumers also may bid on the vehicle using kiosks in participating dealerships.
The dealer lists his or her used-car inventory on the site, complete with physical descriptions and a minimum bid. The bidding lasts from five to seven days depending on the dealer's preference.
No third party
Capital City's West, whose dealership sells about 45 used and 110 new vehicles a month, said he likes the Driveitaway.com business model because there is no third party between the dealer and the customer.
'We don't know what it's going to do,' he said, 'but if I can sell five a month, I'd be tickled to death.'