RealTime IT News

Autobytel.com Plans Japan Launch

Autobytel.com Thursday announced a joint venture with six Japanese partners to form Autobytel Japan, with plans to chase after the world's second largest automobile market.

The six Japanese partners are Intec Inc., ITOCHU Corp., Trans Cosmos Inc., Recruit Co. Ltd., Orient Corp. and e-solutions inc. Initial capitalization is expected to be around $12.2 million with Autobytel.com controlling a 30 percent stake.

Online services are expected to launch in the fourth quarter, with sales of used cars, car financing and insurance services to be added in early 2000.

"Obviously, the automotive e-commerce landscape in Japan is very different from that of the U.S.," said Mark Lorimer, autobytel.com inc.'s president and CEO. "With this in mind, we have carefully chosen partners with significant experience in the Japanese automotive e-commerce market, who can implement Autobytel.com's efficient car buying and selling model with understanding and respect for the traditional automotive business in Japan."

"With automobile dealerships operations in the U.S., Asia, Europe and Japan, we have witnessed a revolutionary change in the automobile retail industry and want to be a key part of those changes," said Motoyuki Katsube, CEO of the automobile division and director of ITOCHU Corp.

E-commerce solution provider e-solutions inc. will be "spearheading" the Autobytel Japan venture, said Autobytel.

According to Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Japanese e-commerce spending is expected to reach $4.3 billion next year, with more than 10 million new and used cars sold in Japan last year.

Autobytel.com boasts purchase requests totalling more than $9 billion annually.