Dealers in the San Francisco area who have signed up to bid for Internet leads from Google are eager for the search-engine giant to launch the pilot program.
Shaun Del Grande, president of the eight-store Del Grande Dealer Group in San Jose, Calif., said the program could push enough business his way that he may reduce the number of third-party leads he now buys.
Here's how it will work, dealers in the Bay area say: Google will establish a Web page for vehicle shoppers. Dealers will bid, through a Google auction, to be one of about three dealers listed on the page when shoppers fill out a discounted price request for, say, a 2012 Toyota Camry with some specifications. The shoppers choose which of the listed dealers will receive the lead and provide the price.
Google, which handles more than two of every three Internet searches worldwide, shared its vehicle-shopping template with dealers at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in San Francisco in February.
Google is initiating the program with a handful of Bay-area dealers but has set no date for a national launch. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.
Del Grande said Google is taking its time to ensure that the consumer experience is top-notch and that it signs enough dealers for competitive bidding.
When Google launches its vehicle-buying program, it will join such established Internet shopping sites as AutoTrader.com and Cars.com and such upstarts as TrueCar and shopautoweek.com. Shopautoweek.com is operated by Autoweek, a sibling publication to Automotive News.
The program will resemble what Google offers shoppers of mortgage refinancing rates, said Adam Simms, co-owner of the seven-store Price Family Dealerships in the Bay area.
Dealers will bid for one of the places on a Google page where shoppers can build a vehicle to the specifications they want at a guaranteed price, said Mike Christian, general manager of Toyota Marin in Marin, one of the Price Family stores. The link to the Google shopping page will be at the top of any Google search, for instance, for information on a 2012 Toyota Camry in the Bay area, he said.
The minimum bid for placement on the Google vehicle-shopping page is $10 per lead generated and could go well above $25 a lead for popular vehicles, Christian said. The lead is generated when the Google shopper submits vehicle specifications to the dealer.
Simms said he favors shopping networks such as Google's that put Internet shoppers directly in touch with dealers.
Said Simms: "We're encouraged about the potential. Google gets so much traffic."