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USA: Leading Automotive and E-Commerce Companies Establish First Communication Standard for Online Car Shopping

By just-auto.com editorial team | 31 May 2000

Agreement Among Key Players Marks Industry's Growing Maturity and Cohesion

A group of 13 leading automotive and e-commerce companies today announced final agreement on a new electronic sales lead standard that will streamline the buying and selling of vehicles on the Internet.

The Auto Lead Data Format -- known as ADF -- is an open XML-based standard for communicating consumer e-mail and purchase requests to automotive dealerships. The common format will enable faster and more reliable processing and management of Internet leads no matter where the message originates, which translates to higher quality customer service and faster response times.

The standards group, comprised of AutoNation, Inc., AutoTrader.com, Autoweb.com, cars.com, The Cobalt Group, Inc., Digital Motorworks, Inc., Ford Motor Company, Kelley Blue Book, priceline.com Auto Services, LLC, Trilogy Software, StoneAge.com, TraderOnline.com, and Yahoo! Autos (autos.yahoo.com) convened in response to the proliferation of formats spawned by the explosive growth of online car shopping.

"Our research shows that successful Internet managers at dealerships are currently inundated with online leads, and dealing with all of the different systems used by the various services is an obstacle to properly responding to Internet customers," said Chris Denove, Director of Consulting Operations for J.D. Power and Associates. "Solutions that unify these systems will enable dealers to focus on higher-value customer service and solutions rather than wrestling with the technical difficulties created by inconsistent data formats."

The new standard will give software developers and solution providers the ability to create open-standard software tools to help dealers more effectively manage and track their Internet leads. Those tools also will enable dealers to centrally manage all their Internet leads, regardless of whether they originated from an online car shopping service, a manufacturer Web site or the dealers' own Web site.

"ADF is a milestone in automotive e-commerce because it recognizes the interdependence of all companies in the automotive e-commerce marketplace," said Ron Harter, Vice President of Product Development for The Cobalt Group, who sponsored the technical editing of the standard. "Just as significantly, the cooperation of these leading companies demonstrates how rapidly our industry is maturing and growing."

Implementation timetables for the new ADF standard will be up to individual members of the standards group. Participants have agreed to jointly update and maintain the specification as appropriate in the future.

The final version of the ADF standard can be found at www.cobaltgroup.com/adf.

For further information, contact:

AutoNation: Oscar Suris, 954/769-3576,

suriso@repind.com

TraderOnline.com: Joe Fuller, 757/640-3682,

fuller@traderonline.com

AutoTrader.com, Michael Mullis, 404/847-6056,

michael.mullis@autotrader.com