DealerTrack Holdings Inc. has purchased most of the assets of Chrome Systems Corp. for $20 million. Chrome Systems, of Portland, Ore., is a pioneer of the technology behind vehicle configuration software.
Dealers, Internet portals, financial institutions and consumers use Chrome's PC Carbook, a Web-based vehicle configuration and comparison tool. A proprietary version of PC Carbook, called GM AutoBook, was created for General Motors and is used by all its dealerships in the United States and Canada.
Privately-held DealerTrack Holdings, of Lake Success, N.Y., owns DealerTrack Inc. of Melville, N.Y., a company that provides dealerships with electronic finance contracts.
David Mingle will continue as president of Chrome, a private company founded in 1986. DealerTrack would not say whether Chrome would be a subsidiary.
"Chrome is still operating as Chrome, but we're not communicating any longer-term plan at this point," said Alexi Venneri, DealerTrack's vice president of marketing.
Chrome collects and analyzes data on all vehicles and options offered by automakers in North America.
"The information that Chrome collects is obviously of value," Venneri says. This will "help us deliver even more helpful and integrated sales and finance information to the dealers."
DealerTrack rolled out electronic contracting last year and offers contracts through 10 major lenders in 48 states. Electronic contracting allows dealers to transmit contracts electronically to financing sources.
Dealers also use DealerTrack's free online credit application system to submit customers' applications to about 120 financing sources.
"The ability to retrieve reliable inventory data from a dealer's (dealer management system) with the click of a mouse will enhance the value of the DealerTrack product suite," DealerTrack CEO Mark O'Neil said in a statement.
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co. and AmeriCredit Corp. founded DealerTrack in January 2001. Capital One Financial Corp. and WFS Financial Inc. joined the venture later.