America Online launches new Autos channel

America Online, Inc., today announced the launch of the new AOL Autos Channel, a greatly improved and simplified car buying experience. Available on the flagship AOL Service, CompuServe, andNetscape, the new Autos area provides consumers with tools and information from the most trusted brands in the auto industry and introduces a streamlined process for putting car buyers directly intouch with local car dealers and automakers. The new Autos experience will extend to AOL.COM in the fall.

As part of the launch, AOL also announced today that it has entered into a marketing and technology alliance with Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information, that empowers AOL members and Web users by providing comprehensive vehicle research and car-shopping tools.

In addition, AOL has forged a new agreement with Kelley Blue Book to assist car buyers in finding standard new and used car prices. Consumers can also continue to take advantage of content and tools from AutoTrader.com, which is already a popular destination on AOL Autos offering more than 2 million used-car listings, as well as Consumer Reports’ ratings recommendations, including safety information.

According to Forrester Research, third-party leads on new-car buyers provided dealers with nearly 40% of their online sales in 2002. The launch of the Autos Channels on the AOL Service, CompuServe, and Netscape marks AOL’s entree to the lead generation business, which gives automakers and dealers new ways to reach qualified car buyers and makes the buying process more effortless for consumers. As millions of AOL members and Web users research and decide on a new car, the new Autos destination enables them to get free, customized price quotes for the exact car they want from their local dealers. Through its agreements with AutoUSA, a subsidiary of AutoNation, and AutoWeb and FordDirect, AOL brings the car dealers directly to the consumer, creating an easy and convenient car buying process with no hassle or obligation.

“AOL Autos is helping to make the Internet a more efficient medium for automakers and dealers, enabling them to more easily reach consumers during the “impressionable” stage of their car buying process. We let the consumers drive the relationship by giving them an opportunity to be contacted by local car dealers who offer the exact cars they are looking for,” said Chris Croll, Vice President of ECommerce, America Online. “Research tells us that people visit four or more Websites during their search for a new car.* Now, the most trusted content is available through AOL Autos. As the new car season heats up, consumers will have a completely new online automotive resource to help them research, buy and sell a car online.”

New Content and Design Expand AOL’s Autos Resources for Members and Marketers

America Online has entered into new content alliances with two best-of-breed and industry-leading brands in the automotive space, Edmunds.com and Kelley Blue Book. The content and tools offered through these agreements greatly expand the autos resources and content from industry leading partners on the AOL Service, CompuServe, and Netscape in the following ways:

* Through an agreement with Edmunds.com, AOL members and Web users will find all-new car research and comparison tools, such as Buying Guides; new pricing tools that enable car buyers to configure and price models with options and current incentives; Edmunds’ expert reviews for nearly all available current-year vehicles; and convenient, no-hassle, free-quote pricing from qualified local dealers to help consumers get the best deal before they buy.

* A new relationship with Kelley Blue Book enables AOL to offer consumers direct access to Kelley’s famed “Blue Book Values” product, which lists new-car and used-car pricing considered to be the standard by car owners everywhere. Through this new agreement, AOL’s Autos experience will be adding one of the most recognized and respected brands in the online autos space.

* A popular resource on the Autos Channels, Consumer Reports provides AOL members and Web users with access to its automotive content, including expert recommendations and tips, as well as safety information.

* America Online and AutoTrader.com entered into an agreement in January 2001 to deliver comprehensive used auto listings to millions of online consumers on AOL and its Web brands. Today, AutoTrader.com powers the Autos used-car area and gives consumers direct access to the Internet’s largest directory of more than 2 million used vehicles as well as AutoTrader.com’s proprietary Find a Car and Sell a Car features.

* Car shoppers can also check out the CARFAX Vehicle History Reports before they buy a used-car. Available in the new Autos areas, CARFAX Reports uncover costly hidden problems, including salvage history, mileage fraud and accident damage. * Through an agreement with Insurance.com, tens of millions of users of the America Online brands have convenient access to Insurance.com’s quality consumer insurance content, including free instant comparison quotes and comparative policies.

* The new content and design of the Autos experience on the AOL Service, CompuServe, and Netscape will also enable America Online to directly build and expand on its existing relationships with many of the leading car manufacturers, finance, and warranty partners, such as Chrysler Group, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Lexus, Toyota, Capital One Auto Finance, and Warrantybynet, as well as its third-party lead-fulfillment partners, AutoUSA and AutoWeb. Through the new AOL Autos offerings, auto marketers can now deliver their messages to engaged, in-market shoppers more effectively with larger and more creative advertising opportunities that help them meet their objectives, from new model launches to brand reinforcement. For example, AOL’s “New Model Spotlight” sponsorship provides auto manufacturers with an opportunity to inform auto shoppers about their new vehicles hitting the market. Additionally, insurance, finance and warranty partners will enjoy integrated placements throughout the car-shopping experience.

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