Acomprehensive dealer locator service and a wider resource pool for new- and used-vehicle information are en route for the new alliance of Edmunds.com and CNET Networks.
CNET, based in San Francisco, has invested $34 million in the Edmunds portal, which pioneered in 1994 as the first web site for vehicle specifications, pricing and inventory data at no cost to consumers.
With CNET technology, says Edmunds President and CEO Peter Steinlauf, Edmunds.com will endeavor to create a uniform automotive database for automakers and leasing companies.
In addition, local dealers will be listed for shoppers, together with transaction prices and dealer incentives updated weekly, according to former auto industry researcher Jeremy Anwyl, who joined Edmunds.com in 2000 as chief operations officer.
"The alliance with CNET," says Mr. Anwyl, "will strengthen our capabilities to serve our growing list of consumers. That will open the door to more marketing opportunities beyond the estimated 1.7 million `unique' visitors we get every month on top of 9 million hits every day."
The dealer locator is being accessed by Edmunds.com for its new wireless site, available on in-vehicle receivers. This service will also offer data on F&I products and services and vehicle insurance.
"We are looking at two revenue streams to support our increased scope with the CNET partnership," says Mr. Anwyl. "These are advertising and referral fees, but never fees to shoppers for vehicle data.
"It is essential in providing data that we have no axe to grind and are perceived as unbiased. That would preclude ads while data are being provided or while consumers are exchanging their own vehicle experiences in our Edmunds Town Hall, a channel link.
"But if shoppers click through to manufacturers, lenders, insurers or dealers, then that's the time when ads could be offered on special rebates, clearance sales or whatever."
Edmunds.com was founded in 1994 by the publisher of the Edmunds vehicle price guides and is based in Santa Monica, CA. Other investors, besides CNET, include GE Tension Trust, Rare Medium Group Inc., Autologic Holdings and Cox Enterprises Inc.
Strategic partners include CarsDirect.com; MSN CarPoint; GM, Sonic Automotive and Driveoff.com.