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Ford, Start Up Online Auction Vehicle

As car sales slow down around the country, auto makers and their authorized dealerships need to become more creative in their marketing and sales efforts.

One online entreprenuer hoping to capitalize on the Big Three's push is, which focuses on dealer-to-consumer used car auctions. The company Wednesday expanded its network to include 28 dealerships operated by the Ford Dealer Development group.

Through the partnership, consumers from Maine to California can view Ford cars on and then inspect, test-drive and make bids at participating dealerships. Bids are placed from the showroom floor using special Internet kiosks installed by

The relationship with Ford, at present, is non-exclusive, notes Stacy Ratner, president and co-founder of Ratner adds that, to her knowledge, "the in-dealership kiosks are unique. No one else is offering this sort of service."

"The agreement with the Ford Dealer Development group is a win-win-win situation," added Darryl Draper, co-founder and CEO of "It increases our visibility along the East Coast, provides the dealerships an opportunity to sell autos at the retail level before selling them at cut rates to wholesaler auction houses, and offers consumers the chance to bid on cars they have already seen in person."

The first auction kiosk will be set up at Capital City Ford in Trenton, N.J. will install online kiosks at the remaining dealerships beginning in early 2001.

" offers our dealers an innovative means of reaching the public while relieving inventory and creating new revenue at the same time," says James Latimer, business management representative, Philadelphia Region Dealer Development.

"I am excited about the kiosks because dealers can get involved with very little outlay and the returns can be substantial," he added. auctions generally run for three to seven days from the date the car is posted. During that time, bidders are encouraged to visit participating dealerships for an inspection or a test drive.