CARSDIRECT.COM LAUNCHES DEDICATED AUTOMOTIVE RESEARCH CENTER

Research Center Will Provide Comprehensive Pricing Information, Cost-of-Ownership Data, In-Depth Vehicle Reviews, Other Useful Tools

CarsDirect.com today announced the launch of a comprehensive research center on its website. The new research capability will help CarsDirect.com customers make more informed car buying decisions by offering easy access to essential pricing information, enhanced vehicle comparison tools and in-depth automotive reviews from Automobile Magazine and NewCarTestDrive.com.

During a phased rollout, CarsDirect.com will expand its research offerings to include “cost of ownership” data; residual values; vehicle safety information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); and expanded car reviews. The CarsDirect.com home page has been re-designed to reflect the website’s expanded research capability.

“In planning the new research center, we looked at the market to identify which research tools really brought value to the car buyer – which tools worked and which tools didn’t,” said Bob Brisco, CEO, CarsDirect.com. “Our customers wanted easy access to quantitative pricing information, valuable comparison tools and unbiased reviews to help them decide which car to buy and at what price."

In building its new research center, CarsDirect.com is responding both to customer requests and industry research. According to J.D. Power and Associates, 54 percent of car buyers used the Web for purchase-related research in 2000.

The first phase of the new research center is now functional and includes a full menu of services geared toward helping consumers make an informed car buying decision.

Ultimate Buying Guides: CarsDirect.com’s Ultimate Buying Guides present an objective, unbiased source of comparative reviews and information for different vehicle types, to help consumers select the vehicle that’s right for them. The research center currently offers Ultimate Buying Guides for cars, SUVs, trucks and vans.

Pricing Tools: Expanding upon its existing pricing aide, the “How Much Car Can I Afford?” calculator helps customers determine their automotive budget. CarsDirect.com now also offers a search function to identify specific makes and models within that budget.

Comparison Tools: CarsDirect.com customers can now quickly “cross-shop” up to three different models or styles, comparing specifications, options and photos.

Car Reviews: To help consumers narrow their purchase decision further, CarsDirect.com has added a search engine for its independent car reviews, licensed from the authoritative Automobile Magazine and NewCarTestDrive.com, an international syndicator of vehicle reviews and content.

360-degree Views: With a click of the mouse, consumers can do a virtual “walk around” of their vehicle of choice and view it in any available color. These 360-degree views are now located in an easy-to-find section of the new research center.

CarsDirect.com will continue to upgrade its research center in the second phase of implementation scheduled for completion in the fourth quarter of 2001. The research center will provide “cost of ownership” projections to provide customers with a realistic indicator of how much a certain vehicle will cost to own and maintain over five years. In Phase Two, CarsDirect.com will also employ tools that will help customers determine leasing residual values, or what the market predicts a vehicle will be worth at the close of a lease. Content on the research center also will expand to include vehicle safety information and ratings from the NHTSA and more in-depth professional reviews from respected automotive industry sources.