December 22, 2000, 2:31 PM — In a move to drive online car sales, Priceline.com and AutoNation Inc. today began a pilot program under which consumers making offers on vehicles at the Priceline.com site are first sent to AutoNation's Web system for distribution to dealers it owns in the Tampa, Fla., area.
Best known for its online name-your-price airline ticket and hotel room reservation services, Priceline.com hopes to be able to provide better customer service for potential car buyers by getting them quicker responses to their bids through AutoNation and giving them a better chance of finding the car they're looking for. AutoNation receives the offers electronically -- and before other dealers. However, after an unspecified time, unaddressed offers are faxed to non-AutoNation dealers.
The pilot project will include all AutoNation dealers in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. Priceline.com has been working with dealers in the New York metropolitan area. If the pilot is successful, AutoNation will expand it to include dealers in other regions.
"AutoNation is an ideal marketing partner for Priceline.com as we begin to roll out our new vehicle buying service," said Maryann Keller, president of the company's automotive services group, in a statement. "AutoNation understands the importance of the Internet in the automotive marketplace and knows how to leverage the medium to sell vehicles."