, the automotive e-commerce company, and Continental AG, the tyre and automotive systems manufacturer, announced (29/11/00) that they have entered into a strategic relationship.

Under the agreement, Continental will invest in Autobytel companies, making the company a shareholder in Autobytel Europe and Autobytel Sweden. In addition, Continental expects to enter into a development contract with Autobytel and also become the lead partner in the formation of Autobytel Germany. The companies' plans include creating an e-commerce tyre module for the websites, allowing consumers to research and shop for all makes of tyres online.

"Partnering with a leader in the German automotive industry enables Autobytel to extend its leadership position in European automotive e-commerce and provides us with a strong automotive relationship in Germany, Europe's largest car market," said Mark Lorimer, president and CEO of

Lorimer added that the investment by Continental strengthens Autobytel's organization and infrastructure in Europe and should speed up the company's entry into both the Belgian and German markets.

" In Autobytel we have found a truly successful Internet partner that allows us to integrate our traditional dealer-based distribution channels into our Internet strategies," said Dr. Stephan Kessel, president and CEO of Continental AG.

The planned tyre module will be available to Autobytel sites worldwide, incuding those in the US, Canada, UK, Japan, Australia and Sweden. Through the module, consumers will be able to easily find information about car tyres, their specifications, prices and dealers. The module will be available to all tyre brands, making the process of buying tyres easier and more convenient than ever before. The tyre module is expected to create additional revenues which will be shared by Continental and Autobytel.