January 31, 2005, 12:00 AM

Ford dealers sold 210,000 cars via the web last year, FordDirect reports

Ford, Lincoln and Mercury dealers sold more than 210,000 vehicles from FordDirect Internet referrals last year, FordDirect reports, accounting for 9% of total Ford Division sales in 2004.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor


Ford, Lincoln and Mercury dealers sold more than 210,000 vehicles from FordDirect Internet referrals last year, FordDirect reports, accounting for 9% of total Ford Division sales in 2004. FordDirect is a joint effort of Ford Motor Co. and its dealers to sell cars via the Internet. Formed in August 2000 with 15 dealers in New Jersey, it now represents over 3,900 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury dealers nationwide.

FordDirect.co hosts more than 3.5 million monthly visitors and delivered to dealers more than 1.5 million referrals on new vehicles. FordDirect allows dealers to sell new and used vehicles online and track online customers. "The primary objective of FordDirect is to deliver quality sales opportunities by providing a superior online research experience for consumers of Ford Motor Co. vehicles," says president Steve St. Andre, who will be a speaker at the Internet Retailer 2005 Conference and Exhibition June 7 & 8 in Chicago.

FordDirect also announced this weekend at the National Automobile Dealers Association Convention in New Orleans that it is rolling out a new technology platform, FordDirect 8.0, that will enhance customers’ ability to build vehicles without constraint and to compare inventory at participating dealers.

"The FordDirect web site is evolving toward providing consumers with a customized and personal online shopping experience," said St. Andre. "The first applications on our new platform will make building a vehicle and finding it in a dealer`s inventory a faster, more intuitive process. The goal is to eventually customize the entire process based on a consumer`s needs and preferences."

FordDirect’s new features include: • Visual Build and Price – An interactive vehicle configurator that replaces the typical linear step-by-step process of most auto sites. Shoppers will be able to see how their choices look on the vehicle with an updated photo in real time. • Fast-Filter Inventory Match - An inventory matching function that Ford says makes it easier for consumers to find the vehicle they are looking for in a dealer`s inventory. The customer will be able to evaluate vehicle attributes and make trade offs. The system will allow users to compare against both in-stock inventory and inventory that is en route to the dealership. • Virtual Lot Search - Virtual Lot Search visually depicts a dealer`s inventory, similar to a bird`s eye view of the dealer`s lot. Consumers can indicate their requirements and filter through a dealer`s inventory. Consumers can also adjust their price range to view vehicles that fit their budget. • Interactive Quick Quote - Consumers who simply want to contact a dealer immediately to get a price quote will have a visual, interactive quote page that will enable them to quickly contact a dealer and still have the opportunity to select options and view their selections.

FordDirect 8.0 is the result of a partnership between FordDirect and software and services company Trilogy.



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