AOL Re-Launches Auto Channel

In conjunction with the launch its redesigned auto channel, America Online has signed a marketing deal with Edmunds.com, a car information service. In addition, AOL has signed a new agreement with Kelley Blue Book to assist car buyers in finding standard new and used car prices.

Available on the flagship AOL service, CompuServe, and Netscape, the new autos area provides consumers with tools and information from the auto industry and introduces what AOL calls a “streamlined process” for putting car buyers directly in touch with local car dealers and automakers.

The new auto channel will extend to AOL.com in the fall.

The launch of the auto channel marks AOL’s entree to the lead generation business. According to Forrester Research, third-party leads on new-car buyers provided dealers with nearly 40 percent of their online sales in 2002.

“AOL Autos is helping to make the Internet a more efficient medium for automakers and dealers, enabling them to more easily reach consumers during the ‘impressionable’ stage of their car buying process,” said Chris Coll, AOL’s VP for e-commerce. “We let the consumers drive the relationship by giving them an opportunity to be contacted by local car dealers who offer the exact cars they are looking for.”

Through the agreement with Edmunds.com, AOL members and Web users will find car research and comparison tools such as buying guides; new pricing tools that allow car buyers to configure and price models with options and current incentives; Edmunds’ reviews for nearly all available current-year vehicles; and free-quote pricing from local dealers.

The new deal with Kelley Blue Book allows the Dulles, Va.-based AOL to offer consumers direct access to Kelley’s “Blue Book Values” product, which lists new-car and used-car pricing considered to be the standard by car owners everywhere.

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