CarsDirect.com Hopes to Drive Sales
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Calling it the first true Internet car company, idealab subsidiary CarsDirect.com made its online debut Monday, offering Netizens an online resource with which to research, price, select, finance, order and take delivery of new vehicles.
CarsDirect differs from Autobytel.com and similar sites because the entire process is done online. Autobytel and similar sites function as referral services and much of the process is still done by conventional dealerships.
The site offers buyers online comparison shopping, and real-time, competitive price quotes through a fixed-price quote configurator, adding option prices to the base price. Customers can build their vehicle through review information and add model and delivery options to their orders. Users of the site are not limited to specific brands from manufacturers or dealers, and can chose from more than 2,500 makes and models.
"Give us 15 Internet minutes, we'll get you a great new car," said Scott Painter, CEO, CarsDirect.com. "We'll compare that Accord and Camry, price it with or without leather or other options, get you a great price, get you the exact financing and even the insurance you want, and deliver it to your doorstep in two days. That's what we mean by buying cars direct."
Other features of the site include e-mail service reminders, online car repair histories, monitored discussion groups and announcements of new car-related products.
The country's fifth largest bank, Bank One, is in partnership with CarsDirect.com, and will provide loan and leasing financing for the online buyers. The bank is also helping CarsDirect.com establish its nationwide network of preferred auto dealers to supply and service the vehicles.
CarsDirect.com investment partners include Goldman Sachs, MSD Capital L.P., Foundation Capital, idealab Capital Partners, the venture capital affiliate of idealab; and Primedia Ventures, a subsidiary of publisher Primedia. The company has also formed a strategic relationship with market researcher J.D. Power & Associates.
In partnership with credit union auto buyer Autoland, CarsDirect.com will be able to find or source cars across the country.
Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based CarsDirect.com will retain offices in nine U.S. markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Miami, Atlanta, Denver and Washington, D.C. The company said it is planning an aggressive rollout strategy and will include over 40 cities by the end of the calendar year.
CarsDirect.com was conceived by entrepreneur Scott Painter and Bill Gross of idealab, the Pasadena, Calif. incubator which boasts over 20 successful online companies in its portfolio, including eToys, Ticketmaster, CitySearch, Free-PC and GoTo. Gross said he thought of the car-buying service after becoming frustrated with buying a car online.
"CarsDirect.com was born from my own experience, which clearly proved that despite its fabulous utility, the Internet was still a place where you couldn't purchase one of America's most important commodities - a new car," Gross said. "I decided it was time to change that and CarsDirect.com is how we're going to make it happen."