Ford Turns Ignition Key for Online Sales Roll-Out

03 April 2001

The Ford Motor Company has begun the long-awaited roll-out of its web showroom – but in nine states only.

The service, which allows consumers to view details of the cars stocked by local dealers, is now doing business in California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Washington, Texas, New Jersey, Tennessee, Nevada and Delaware.

Moreover, FordDirect is advertising prices lower than its own suggested retail prices only in two states – New Jersey and Delaware, where the average price actually paid by customers is quoted. Elsewhere, customers have to email individual dealers to haggle for a lower price.

When Ford announced the scheme last August, it predicted that it would be established in California by September and spread rapidly to other states. However, the concept ran into opposition both from state authorities and Ford’s own dealership network. Many states require that prices quoted on websites be made available to all consumers, while dealers objected to listing lower prices as this limits their ability to exploit bad hagglers.

While Ford admitted that the service’s roll-out has been more sluggish than anticipated, it is training dealers and seeking regulatory approval in a further fifteen states.

News source: New York Times