“AOL AutosDirect, Powered by AutoNation.com” Brings Exclusive
Benefits to AOL Members
AutoNation to Provide Direct Fulfillment of Vehicle Purchases
Through AOL’s New Auto Channel
America Online, Inc. (NYSE:AOL), the world’s leading interactive services company, and AutoNation, Inc. (NYSE:AN), America’s leading automotive retailer, today announced a multi-year alliance under which AutoNation and its licensees will be the exclusive retailers of new and used vehicles to AOL members who purchase a car or truck through “AOL AutosDirect, Powered by AutoNation.com,” a new co-branded site to be available on AOL that will allow members to buy exactly the car they want online.
America Online announced previously the development of a new AOL Auto Channel, expected to launch this fall, which will offer members a wealth of reliable and accurate information, services, and tools for shopping, buying and maintaining automobiles. Under terms of the agreement, “AOL AutosDirect, Powered by AutoNation.com”, will be the exclusive co-branded direct fulfillment channel on the AOL Auto Channel. AutoNation will also continue to operate its own automotive retail website, “AutoNationDirect.com”, which will also be offered through the auto areas of other AOL properties, including AOL.COM, CompuServe, and Netscape Netcenter.
AOL members who purchase a new or used vehicle through “AOL AutosDirect Powered by AutoNation.com” will receive a range of exclusive benefits, including:
One year free scheduled service
AOL Concierge Search: personalized search of the AutoNation
network for best price and inventory availability
$200 off any vehicle ordered from the factory
$100 off the purchase of a theft deterrent device
Guaranteed service appointments that can be reserved online
“We think the combination of our automotive e-commerce expertise and the reputation of the popular AOL brand will create the Internet’s top destination for buying automobiles,” said Michael J. Jackson, Chief Executive Officer of AutoNation, Inc. “Soon AOL’s users will have access to AutoNation’s inventory of new and used vehicles — the Internet’s largest — all clearly priced and all ready for immediate delivery. AutoNation will offer online consumers virtually any brand of vehicle they choose, each at a low no-haggle price. This will be a shopping choice that is more direct than any online broker or referral service. In addition, AutoNation dealerships and licensees offer a nationwide network of service facilities that will be there to service AOL members’ vehicles long after the sale.”
“Our goal is to create the best auto service in cyberspace, making it easier than ever for the users of our brands to shop for and buy a car online, and AutoNation is the nation’s largest automotive retailer — online or offline,” said Bob Pittman, President and Chief Operating Officer, America Online, Inc. “Through this agreement with AutoNation, we will allow users to research prices, compare features and accessories, secure financing, arrange a test drive and select a vehicle for purchase — all online.”
AutoNation Acquires AutoVantage Car Buying Service
In a related development, AutoNation announced today that it has acquired the AutoVantage car buying service from Cendant Corporation (NYSE:CD) for an undisclosed amount in cash and other consideration. In addition, AutoNation has entered into a three-year licensing agreement to use Cendant’s AutoVantage trademark and its related logo solely in connection with the acquired service. Cendant will retain all other AutoVantage assets including, but not limited to, all aspects of the AutoVantage membership club business, its Web site’s content and technology. Adding the AutoVantage car buying capabilities puts AutoNation in a position to fulfill online purchase requests from AOL members and other customers in many of the markets where AutoNation does not already have a dealership presence. In addition, AutoNation will continue to provide Cendant’s AutoVantage members access to this leading auto buying service.
Mr. Jackson said, “The acquisition of the AutoVantage car buying service accelerates AutoNation’s development of a national footprint to serve Internet vehicle customers. We will work closely with the existing AutoVantage dealers to ensure that they too benefit from the increased traffic that will be generated by our alliance with AOL.”
AutoVantage is ranked by J.D. Power & Associates as one of the three most popular automotive lead providers among consumers. The more than 900 automotive dealers who participate in the AutoVantage service will supplement the nearly 300 existing AutoNation dealerships, substantially increasing AutoNation’s geographic coverage. Under terms of the acquisition’s related licensing agreement, AutoNation will continue to service dealers using the AutoVantage trademark for lead referral service.
Cendant Internet Group, which collaborated with Cendant Membership Services in negotiating this transaction on behalf of Cendant Corporation, is aggressively pursuing Internet, broadband and wireless related convergence opportunities for Cendant with the objective of leveraging its businesses in the areas of travel, real estate and direct marketing.
About America Online, Inc.
Founded in 1985, America Online, Inc., based in Dulles, Virginia, is the world’s leader in interactive services, Web brands, Internet technologies, and e-commerce services. America Online, Inc. operates: America Online, with more than 22 million members, and CompuServe, with more than 2.7 million members, the company’s two worldwide Internet services; several leading Internet brands including ICQ, AOL Instant Messenger and Digital City, Inc.; the Netscape Netcenter and AOL.COM portals; the Netscape Navigator and Communicator browsers; AOL Moviefone, the nation’s number-1 movie listing guide and ticketing service; and Spinner.com and NullSoft’s Winamp, leaders in Internet music. Through its strategic alliance with Sun Microsystems, the company develops and offers easy-to-deploy, end-to-end e-commerce and enterprise solutions for companies operating in the Net Economy.
AutoNation, Inc., a Fortune 100 company based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is America’s largest automotive retailer, on and off the Internet. The company owns and operates more than 400 new vehicle franchises in 19 states and generates annual revenue of more than $20 billion. AutoNation is also the largest automotive retailer online, having sold more than $1 billion worth of vehicles via the Internet last year. For more information about the Company and the announcement go to corp.autonation.com/newsroom.