DETROIT -- Dealers using ProQuest Automotive's electronic parts catalog no longer have to wait a month for updates on parts, service and warranty information.
ProQuest has begun marketing software called Q.link that lets automakers use the Internet to automatically update their electronic parts catalogs for dealerships.
Q.link is another example of how the Internet is reaching deeper into dealership operations.
While ProQuest is not the only company that sells electronics parts catalogs - competitors include Infomedia Ltd. and Enigma Inc. - it is a major industry player. Nineteen automakers representing 32 brands use ProQuest to develop their electronic parts catalogs.
Dealers pay a subscription fee to get the catalogs.
They have been getting updates on CDs or DVDs. But the updates are done monthly, which is too infrequently because automakers change parts information regularly, says Mike Bell, who's in charge of market development at ProQuest Automotive in Richfield, Ohio.
Those changes could affect 15 percent of an automaker's parts data, he says.
"The accuracy of that information so that you order the correct part for that vehicle is absolutely critical," he says. "The fresher we can make that data, the better."
Toyota dealerships have been testing Q.link this year.
One of the dealerships is Fremont Toyota in Sheridan, Wyo. Parts manager Bill Vigil says he has seen a decrease in ordering errors after just a few months.
That's because parts orders are more accurate with frequent updates, Bell says.
ProQuest is rolling out Q.link to Toyota and Hyundai dealers, with other brands to follow.
ProQuest would not divulge how many dealerships are using the product. A Q.link subscription varies depending on the dealership's number of electronic parts catalog workstations, length of contract and number of franchises.
Adding Q.link to an existing catalog contract costs about $1 per day per user.