When Toyota Motor Corp. and i2 Technologies Inc. created a joint online parts exchange two years ago, they had lofty goals.
iStarXchange, which later changed its name to iStarSystems, would provide one-stop shopping from a huge Internet parts catalog. But the Irvine, Calif., company didn't survive the business-to-business shakeout.
Despite the backing of a global automaker, iStarSystem's demise illustrates the uncertainty that followed the creation of B2B exchanges.
A May pilot linked a handful of Toyota dealerships in California to collision shops. Orders were automatically entered into dealer management systems. The goal: Save time, reduce costs and increase order accuracy.
There was talk that iStarSystems would be introduced nationally to Toyota and Lexus dealers, and ultimately, to any franchised dealer. But Toyota (toyota.com) scrapped the venture and sold its stake to i2 Technologies (i2.com) for an undisclosed amount after the OEConnection (oeconnection.com) parts exchange was launched in December 2000.
OEConnection doesn't reveal revenues, so its profitability status is unknown. But it was formed by and has the backing of the Big 3. Analysts count it among the five to 10 significant players in the parts exchange space. Other exchanges link dealers with original equipment parts, such as Cobalt Group's PartsVoice.com and ChoiceParts.com, but some, such as Parts.com, cater to consumers or warehouse distributors.