Wells Fargo & Co. has become the first major U.S. bank to launch an Internet site for new-car sales.
AutoXpress Lane is accessible on wellsfargo.com through the Products & Services category by clicking on Auto Finance & Sales. It allows consumers to research and configure vehicles, comparison shop in a hassle-free environment and receive firm prices for vehicles. And Wells Fargo doesn't bypass dealers, who provide the cars and complete the transaction.
The new-car site is one of three new automotive e-commerce offerings by the San Francisco-based bank. A category for certified pre-owned off-lease vehicles has been available since September. The other, to be operating by the new year, will allow online financing.
The services are available in California, Minnesota, Arizona and Colorado, with plans to expand later.
It was only a matter of time before banks realized the potential online car-buying offers. For years they have worked closely with consumers and dealers. Not only do they have the infrastructure, but they've achieved a level of trust that may never be matched by third-party buying services.
In other dot-com news:
Saturn Corp. and referral service Autoweb.com Inc. have renewed their e-commerce alliance through 2001. The partnership has existed since March 1999.
AutoNation Inc., the nation's largest automobile retailer, will use Edmunds.com's PowerShopper tool, which consumers can use to research purchase options.
J.D. Power Clubs Inc.'s J.D. Power Consumer Center made its debut last week. The site, www.jdpower .com, provides a ratings system to help consumers with purchase and ownership decisions for autos, telecommunications providers and financial services. J.D. Power Clubs offers consumer support services such as aid in selecting, financing and insuring purchases; it is a unit of marketing information firm J.D. Power and Associates Inc. in Agoura Hills, Calif.
You can reach National Editor Chaz Osburn at (313) 446-1677 or [email protected]