Despite a shakeout among the dot-coms in the last two years, the Internet is alive and kicking in the auto industry.
The major automakers spent about $110 million on Internet marketing last year, a 6 percent increase from 2000, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
That's a pittance compared to what they spend on other media, but marketers at the Chrysler group expect that to change.
"We're doubling our commitment to interactive marketing this year, which includes things like the Internet and games," said Jeff Bell, vice president of marketing communications at Chrysler. "I could see it catching (magazines) in 10 years."
DaimlerChrysler, including Mercedes, spent $8.7 million on the Internet last year, a 77 percent increase from 2000.
The automaker spent $257 million on magazines.
Still, automaker Internet spending has grown dramatically from an estimated $9 million in 1996, the first year Competitive Media Reporting began tallying such spending by automotive companies.
And when you include dealer spending and site development, Forrester Research in Boston estimates the spending will be about $1 billion this year.
General Motors leads the field by far, spending $44 million last year, a 7.6 percent decrease.
But like DaimlerChrysler, other makers' spending increased substantially - Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. up 37 percent to nearly $14 million and Nissan North America Inc. up 96 percent to $8.9 million.