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GM Launches eBusiness Venture In Japan

General Motors Corp. launched a Tokyo-based joint venture with three Japanese companies to develop an e-commerce operation for auto sales to Japanese consumers and businesses.

The other companies involved are Suzuki Motors Corp., Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (Subaru) and Isuzu Motors. GM has a 20 percent stake in Suzuki, a 20 percent stake in FHI and a 49 percent stake in Isuzu and will have 60 percent of the new venture.

The joint venture company will be called Japan AutoWeb Services Inc. and its first business initiative is BuyPower Japan.

Launching today, the venture's first offering is an online automotive shopping service that allows consumers to search for, select, configure and request the price of any GM, Suzuki, Subaru or Isuzu passenger vehicle sold in Japan. Together the four companies have seven brands in Japan: Cadillac, Saab, Opel, Chevrolet, Suzuki, Subaru and Isuzu.

GM said that BuyPower Japan customers would be able to choose from 65 vehicle models in 179 variations, and will be referred to nearby participating dealers.

The joint venture company also will develop other e-business synergies and leverage Internet-based technologies for the four partners.

Mark Hogan, a GM group vice president responsible for e-commerce, said the new company has access to GM's global e-business experience and tools such as BuyPower and OnStar.

"Its challenge is to leverage existing and new Internet-based technologies into e-business solutions that address the needs of the sophisticated, Internet-savvy Japanese automotive consumer," Hogan said. "Japan is the Internet giant of Asia. It has 47.08 million Internet users and last year accounted for 62 percent ($9.5 billion) of regional e-commerce."

Japan AutoWeb Services is capitalized at 1.13 billion yen or about $9.51 million.