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Online Auto Shoppers Show Strong Preference for New Vehicle Configurators
Consumers want sophisticated tools to get as much information as possible before they visit the showroom

CINCINNATI (November 29, 2000) - New vehicle configurators-online tools that let car shoppers specify the exact vehicle they want, calculate its price, and search for it online in auto dealerships' existing inventories-have strong interest from consumers, according to research conducted by Friedman-Swift Associates, an automotive market research firm, and The Cobalt Group (NASDAQ: CBLT), a leading provider of e-business products and services to the automotive industry.

The study reports that 78 percent of online new car shoppers want dealers to offer new vehicle configurators on their Web sites. New vehicle configurators allow shoppers to specify the vehicle they want, choosing the vehicle make, model, style, color, finish, options and price. The tool then shows the vehicle's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) and dealer invoice price, and searches a dealership's existing inventory for the closest match to a vehicle available for immediate sale.

"Configurators are one of several features consumers now want to see on car dealers' Web sites," noted Judy George, senior vice president of Friedman-Swift Associates, who directed the research. "More car buyers use dealership Web sites as part of their shopping process than ever before and these buyers want to be well informed before they enter the showroom."

There are several new vehicle configurator products available to dealers. Cobalt's offering, called Make & Match, allows consumers to configure a car on a dealer's Web site, compare multiple vehicles and research pricing information. Once the buyer selects their preferred car, they can search the dealer's inventory for the closest matches and/or submit a purchase request using an email form from the dealer's Web site. Cobalt's Make & Match integrates with the dealer's new car inventory so consumers are viewing vehicles that are on the dealer's lot.

"New vehicle configurators are very important tools that enable consumers to design the car of their dreams and find an existing match to that car right on a dealer's Web site," said John Holt, president and CEO of The Cobalt Group. "In contrast to online buying services that don't display real vehicles that are in inventory, dealers who give consumers access to configurators on their Web sites are better able to serve online shoppers and can more efficiently match consumer demand with vehicles on their lots."

Friedman-Swift's survey was conducted with 1,090 new car shoppers who visited Cobalt's DealerNet® ( during June, July, and August 2000, and has a margin of error of 2.97 percent. Nearly half the shoppers interviewed-46 percent-planned to purchase a new vehicle in the next six months. More information about the research can be found at


Friedman-Swift Associates, based in Cincinnati, OH, is a leading provider of automotive marketing research to automobile dealers, manufacturers and advertising agencies. Dedicated to helping automotive retailers better serve consumers since 1979, the company has pioneered proprietary research that helps dealers understand the needs of both Internet and traditional automotive shoppers. Friedman-Swift has conducted over 4,000 automotive research studies. The firm's clients include 75 of the largest 100 automobile dealer groups in the US, and most dealerships who lead in sales performance for each auto manufacturer. More information about the company can be found at

ABOUT THE COBALT GROUP The Cobalt Group™ (NASDAQ: CBLT), headquartered in Seattle, is a leading provider of e-business products and services that help automotive dealers and manufacturers effectively manage their businesses online. Cobalt's suite of e-business solutions includes Web services, Web site hosting, e-commerce applications, Internet-based customer relationship management applications, data management, and best practices training and consulting.

Nearly half of the nation's auto dealers use Cobalt's technology, including nearly 6,400 Web services clients, and nearly 10,000 PartsVoice® ( clients. Cobalt's e-business products and services are endorsed by 15 automotive manufacturers and more than 50 of the 100 largest dealer groups in the United States.

Cobalt operates™ (, a business-to-business information and e-commerce exchange where auto dealers can find the latest news, software applications to improve their business operations, parts locating tools and a wholesale vehicle exchange. Cobalt also operates DealerNet® (, one of the most widely visited consumer automotive information portals on the Web. Cobalt owns IntegraLink Corporation, the auto industry's premier provider of auto dealer data collection and reporting services. Cobalt offers Web site services that are endorsed by the National Automobile Dealers Association.

Cobalt has offices in Seattle, Wash.; Portland, Ore.; Detroit, Mich.; Columbus, Ohio; and Austin, Texas. For more information, please visit or call 1-800-909-8244.


Judy George
Friedman-Swift Associates
Office: 513-772-9204, ext. 122
Cell: 513-684-1246

Amy Anderson
The Cobalt Group
Office: 206-219-8105
Cell: 206-619-6220

Friedman-Swift  |  110 Boggs Lane Suite 200  |  Cincinnati, Ohio 45246  |  513-772-9200