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MSN Carpoint Teams With AutoNation

MSN Carpoint signed a deal that makes AutoNation Inc. the primary distributor of Carpoint customer sales leads.

As part of the three-year agreement, AutoNation, which calls itself America's largest automotive retailer, will begin initial distribution of Carpoint's sales leads this March, leading to full distribution by June. Financial arrangements were not disclosed.

The alliance significantly expands Carpoint's national dealer coverage, helping to assure that online car buyers can find the vehicle they want at a nearby dealer.

AutoNation said it will leverage its existing e-commerce infrastructure, which already serves online sales leads from sources such as AutoVantage.com and other consumer portals to AutoNation's 400 dealership franchises and more than 1,600 dealership franchises outside of AutoNation's retail network.

Meanwhile, online used car marketplace AutoTrader.com said it now has expanded its database to include listings for more than 1.5 million used vehicles for sale throughout the United States, and claims an audience of 4 million car shoppers every month.

The company, owned by Manheim Auto Auctions, whose parent company is media holding operation Cox Enterprises, said revenues have increased from $5 million to $28 million during 2000. Just this week it launched a new car marketplace, as well. The company said it expects to reach profitability within the next 12 to 18 months.

AutoTrader.com also is launching a new $40 million dollar marketing campaign that will include a new broadcast commercial and a combination of multiple broadcast spots and online exposure, targeting car shoppers with ad buys during prime time television coverage of the NBA, NCAA basketball and NASCAR for the first half of 2001. Other major sports will be targeted during the remainder of the year.

And earlier this month, the company signed an expanded multi-year alliance with America Online in which AutoTrader.com is the exclusive provider of used car classified listings and search capabilities across all major AOL brands.

It's certainly been a busy week in the online auto sales space: On Wednesday online automotive dealers CarsDirect.com and Greenlight.com merged when CarsDirect purchased its competitor for an undisclosed sum.