Ford Motor Co. launches a second generation of its web-based dealer communications system. The new system,, is an integrated Internet portal.

Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers using the old system would have to log into three separate sites (one for each division and a separate one for service and repair information) to communicate with the factory.

The new system integrates all three sites into one site, meaning the user only has to log in once to access them. Dealers will have all of the same tools that the first generation system provided: service and parts data, warranty information, field bulletins, vehicle locating and ordering tools and other information from the factory.

But, says, Chuck Sullivan Ford's e-marketing manager, “The sites now have a common look and feel and should be much less complex for dealers to use.”

Other changes include the elimination of graphics to increase the speed at which the web pages load - five seconds for normal dial up speeds. Also, dealers can now find and print specific invoices of vehicles on other Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers' lots. “That has been a giant hit with our pilot dealers,” says Sullivan.

The new system took a year to develop and was based on feedback from over 100 dealers. A pilot was tested recently with 14 Philadelphia-area dealers. It was necessary because the old system had reached its technological limits. It had 40,000 pages of content and more than 100,000 users would access it daily making it slow and inflexible.

The new requires dealers to have high speed Internet access. According to Sullivan, 75% of Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers have some form of high speed access while Ford provides the other 25% — mostly rural dealers — with access to the portal through a satellite system.