Car Shopping, A Click Away

When New York resident Bob Moye decided to buy a car, he took a tour through cyberspace. With the help of, a popular online car company, he found the Ford Explorer of his dreams.

To make sure he had the best deal, he took the online quote to a local Ford dealer. The dealer said the price was so low he couldn't match it.

Moye ended up using Autobytel's system, and within four days he picked up his brand-new SUV at a dealer just 20 minutes from his home.

CBS MarketWatch Correspondent Stacey Tisdale reports that Moye is quickly becoming the rule and not the exception when it comes to car buying. According to Forrester Research, consumer participation in Internet car shopping will rise to nearly 8 million households by 2003. In five years, the Web is expected to influence 50 percent of all new car purchases. (Watch an interview with James McQuivey, e-commerce analyst for Forrester Research.

Right now the major players are Autobytel, Microsoft's CarPoint,, and Wayne Huizenga's AutoNation, which bought 16 car dealerships for $200 million on Thursday.

These sites allow you to choose your vehicle and options, offer information about the manufacturer's price, and refer you to an area dealership that can complete the transaction. Many of these companies have teamed up with banks so you can do your financing online.

Moye saved a few thousand dollars using this method and his research eliminated the hassle of haggling with a car dealer, he says., co-founded by Dell Computer chairman Michael Dell and Idealab chairman Bill Gross, is planned as the next wave of online car buying that will eliminate car dealerships completely from the process.

The intention is for CarsDirect to buy dealerships around the country and use them as warehouses instead of showrooms. Once consumers find and finance their new cars online, CarsDirect will be able to deliver them. For the moment, consumers can get a car delivered directly to a California home - otherwise one must pick it up at a local dealer. A company spokesman says it normally takes two days from request to delivery.

The idea seems to be popular with consumers: CarsDirect said that during a six-month test of its site it racked up $20 million in sales.