The Internet is still giving dealers the jitters.
This time, however, it isn't the third-party dot-coms that worry them. Dealers are worked up about the factories.
More than half of the dealer principals in a new survey said they think the factories want to eliminate dealerships and sell directly to consumers. And that has helped pull dealer-factory relations to their lowest level since 1989, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2000 Dealer Attitude Survey released last week.
The Internet is partially to blame.
Chris Denove, a partner at the Agoura Hills, Calif., company, says dealers are frustrated by various manufacturer programs they see as taking away from their autonomy. These include shopping portals Ford Motor Co. and General Motors are developing as joint ventures with dealers.
'There's growing solidarity against the independent dot-coms,' Denove says, adding he believes such sites 'have had their day in the sun.'
But it's clear that the factories haven't done a good enough job of explaining why dealers should support the joint-venture sites. If they're to work, both sides will have to understand the benefits.
In other dot-com news:
Consumer auto Internet service Autoweb.com Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., has a new CFO: Michael Schmidt, former COO at MizBiz.com., a Burlingame, Calif., online business service provider for female-owned businesses.
MSN Carpoint.ca - the Canadian version of the MSN Carpoint.com online buying service - and kanetix.com, a Canadian online insurance marketplace, formed a strategic alliance. The agreement gives Carpoint.ca users access to real-time insurance quotes.
Autobytel.com subsidiary CarSmart.com of San Ramon, Calif., a Web site for automotive information and pricing, has revised the site for easier navigation by consumers.
You can reach National Editor Chaz Osburn at 313-446-1677 or at [email protected]