RealTime IT News

Baby You Can Drive My (New) Car

Autobytel Inc. , which says it operates the Internet's largest online buying service for new cars, signed a marketing/fulfillment deal with automotive classified ad marketplace AutoTrader.com.

The deal means that AutoTrader.com's new car shoppers will have the option to request competitive, no-haggle prices through Irvine, Calif.-based Autobytel's Autoweb.com dealer network.

Financial arrangements were not disclosed, but there's no doubt that Autobytel is hoping for some accretive cash on the bottom line, as its most recent earnings report showed a wider net loss after a restructuring charge.

Autobytel last week reported a first-quarter net loss of $18.5 million, or 59 cents a share, after recording a $19.2 million charge for its European operations. It posted a net loss of $4.1 million, or 20 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue for the first period rose to $20.7 million from $16.7 million.

"AutoTrader.com has proven its expertise in automotive commerce and its leadership in online automotive classifieds," said Jeffrey Schwartz, president and CEO of Autobytel. "The site has one of the largest audiences of Internet car shoppers, making it a natural fit with our nationwide network of trained, Internet new car dealers."

In addition to serving as a fulfillment channel for AutoTrader.com's Buy Online marketplace, Autoweb.com will also be able to promote its new car buying program to AutoTrader.com's 7 million unique visitors monthly.

Autobytel also owns and operates Carsmart.com and Autosite.com, as well as AIC (Automotive Information Center), a provider of automotive marketing data and technology.

Atlanta-based AutoTrader.com claims to have more than 1.5 million used vehicles listed for sale by private owners, dealers and manufacturers. The company's investors include include Cox Enterprises Inc., Manheim Auctions, Automatic Data Processing Inc., Trader Publishing, Landmark Communications, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers and eBay Inc. .