Ford is launching a new online service for customers who want to buy a new Ford car in a direct, quick and hassle-free way on the Internet - Ford Journey.

Ford Journey is the most complete online new car sales service provided to British consumers to date and will go live to the public later in October. The main customer benefits of Ford Journey are:

* A wide range of instantly accessible new Ford cars on the Internet, with more model choice to come in 2001.

* Competitive financing available through Ford Credit with up to a five-year credit term.

* 10-day Ford-to-dealer delivery objective.

* Buy direct from Ford with vehicle delivery by the customer's selected dealer.

* Standard three-year/60,000-mile warranty, one year's RAC membership and 21-day comprehensive insurance.

* Totally transparent pricing with reductions on recommended on-the-road prices.

* A £200 reservation fee is required to order a new car and can be paid securely online.

* Britain - and possibly Europe's - first independent, online arbitration service for total customer confidence.

Ian McAllister, Chairman and Managing Director, Ford Britain, said: "The launch of Ford Journey provides customers with the most complete online new car sales service yet offered in Britain."

Once Ford Journey goes live to the public later in October, after connecting to the www.fordjourney.com homepage the customer will click on the new Ford car model range of their choice. At first, the Ford Ka, Ford Fiesta, Ford Puma and Ford Focus new car ranges will be available through Ford Journey, with other vehicle ranges to follow next year. The models available are the full standard range of series, engines, body styles and options: there are no limited, online special editions.

Once the customer has specified his or her choice of new car, the system will search Ford's extensive vehicle holding compounds located around Britain to find either an exact match or a close match to the required vehicle. This search takes just a few seconds but the system can hunt through up to 10,000 cars during this short time. Once the appropriate car is identified, the purchase price is displayed to the customer. The Ford Journey price quotation service is free.

If the customer then decides to buy the car, a £200 reservation fee is paid. For ease, this is paid online via Visa, Mastercard, Solo or Switch credit cards. No other deposit is required and the £200 is included in the overall purchase price.

Should the customer require financing, Ford Credit provides a service through Ford Journey which will offer a competitive rate. The customer can chose the level of deposit and the credit terms up to a repayment period maximum of five years. Alternatively, customers can provide their own financing arrangements. Payment for the new car is made through electronic funds transfer.

In terms of vehicle delivery, Ford Journey automatically chooses the Ford Main Dealer responsible for the customer's postcode. However, the customer can elect to have the new car delivered by another Ford Main Dealer, and can search for an appropriate dealer on line by either dealer name or dealer postcode. The dealer then prepares and registers the car before handing it over to the customer. From then on, any Ford dealership will take care of warranty or servicing actions required on the car - just the same as for any other Ford customer.

As the new car is already built when the customer makes his or her purchase decision, delivery times are significantly reduced compared with many other new car online sales services. Ford's objective is to have the chosen new car delivered to the appropriate dealership within 10 working days.

All new Ford cars purchased via Ford Journey come as standard with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, one year's RAC cover and 21-day comprehensive insurance.

Ford Journey will especially appeal to customers who want a new car quickly, do not need to offer their existing vehicle in part-exchange and for whom marketing offers, such as free insurance, are less attractive. For such customers the single 'haggle-free' price, as provided on Ford Journey, also may be an advantage.

This focus on the essentials allows for the new Ford car prices quoted on Ford Journey to be totally transparent with reductions on recommended on-the-road prices.

Unique, independent online arbitration service

In order to allay customer concerns about making high-value purchases on the Internet, Ford Journey customers can also take advantage of a unique dispute resolution service that has been arranged with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. If a customer should have a concern that cannot be resolved to their satisfaction, the customer can present their claim for online arbitration using a simple process. The arbitration is totally independent and is legally-binding.

Ford believes this is the first time in Britain - and possibly in Europe - that such an independent online arbitration service has been made available to Internet shoppers, and ensures that customers can buy a new Ford car through Ford Journey with the sense of trust and confidence they have come to expect from the Ford brand.

Ford Journey is also governed by a strict code of conduct to make sure all information displayed on the website is accurate and up-to-date, with no possibility of unintentionally misleading the customer.

"Online new car sales volumes are likely to grow," said Mr. McAllister. "A key factor in their success will be the ability to meet customers' needs and to provide convenience and reassurance. This is why we have a strict code of conduct on the operation of Ford Journey and introduced the unique, independent online arbitration service. We want customers buying online to have the same feeling of trust and confidence in Ford as any other customer."

"By launching such a complete online service as Ford Journey - supported by Britain's most comprehensive dealer network - Ford intends to be a leader in automotive e-commerce."

The Ford Journey website can be found at www.fordjourney.com