Thirteen of 16 Tampa Bay area dealerships will form the core of AutoNation's "no-haggle price" pilot, covering the Florida Gulf Coast cities of Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Tampa.

The pilot's formal launch is Dec. 26. More than 2,000 associates from the dealerships will be trained in the same product and service methods that helped lift the initial Denver pilot to sales and market share increases over the past year, says AutoNation's new chief executive officer, Michael J. Jackson.

In 17 Denver dealerships owned by AutoNation, market share in the third quarter increased 40% from a year ago. The sales represent 27% of the metro area in new-car and light-truck sales, says Mr. Jackson.

"This solid third-quarter performance in our Denver stores gives us tremendous confidence in the business model we have chosen for defining the AutoNation USA brand," he declares.

Excluded from AutoNation's pilot in Tampa Bay are two Lexus dealerships owned by Ron Salhany and a Cadillac franchise in the Jim Quinlan group. Salhany and Quinlan, however, function as AutoNation overseers of the pilot, since all their dealerships are owned by AutoNation.

"Luxury brands need to be handled separately than in groupings like Tampa Bay and Denver," says Michael E. Maroone, president and chief operating officer of AutoNation.

Among stores involved in the Tampa Bay project are Carlisle Ford, of St. Petersburg; Carlisle Lincoln Mercury, of Clearwater; Anthony Abraham Chevrolet, Tampa; Lokey Honda-Isuzu, Clearwater and Quinlan's Chevrolet and Nissan dealerships in Clearwater.

The Tampa Bay program will promote menu-pricing on financing products, "fast or free" vehicle service, a three-day moneyback guarantee on new and used vehicles and a 99-day warranty on used.