Your August, 2000 article headlined, "3rd-Party Lead Providers' Future Iffy," predicting that independent online buying services would eventually become "insignificant," failed to consider one very noticeable player in its analysis of the future Internet automotive equation: the consumer.

The assertion that Autobytel.com must ultimately choose whose side it's on - the consumer's or the dealer's - seemed to echo from a distant, pre-Internet era, when these parties were pitted against one other. In fact, Autobytel.com, with its commanding market share, is the Internet sales choice for consumers and has been ranked #1 in J.D. Power & Associates' Dealer Satisfaction Study for three years in a row: real-world proof that successful Internet solutions benefit both consumers and dealers.

Autobytel.com's vision has always been to use the Internet to empower consumers with objective, third-party, multi-brand information and convenient shopping, while providing dealers with a cost-effective marketing and sales system that drives more profitable business. This vision has revolutionized - and invigorated - the entire automotive industry.

Autobytel.com, furthermore, is pleased that manufacturers have recognized the power of the Internet and applauds the proliferation of individual dealer web sites as a positive trend toward better communications with customers. Most studies consistently reveal, nonetheless, that the Internet shopper overwhelmingly prefers objective third-party, multi-brand sites when purchasing a vehicle online.

Manufacturer and dealer initiatives can complement independent car-buying sites, but cannot - in the end - replace them. The Internet has served to empower the consumer as never before, and those independent, third-party online businesses that meet his/her needs will ultimately be the ones to survive the much-ballyhooed Internet shake-out.