Online dealer financing and auctions are coming simultaneously in early 2001 from World Omni Financial Corp., the financing and leasing arm of JM Family Enterprises.

The financing system, developed with the Internet channel E-fin, will roll out shortly after the NADA convention among all of World Omni's 1,700 dealer customers.

Designed to streamline the credit application process, the financing initiative was piloted during the fourth quarter at eight Toyota dealers in the Southeast Toyota distributor network and four non-Toyota dealers on World Omni's client portfolio.

"For low-risk high-rated customers, we guarantee a one-minute approval response," says Brent Burns, Internet systems vice president of JM Family Enterprises. "If a manual review is required at our decision offices, a reply within 15 minutes is assured."

The system will cost dealers a $75 monthly fee to e-fin, which is allied with Reynolds and Reynolds, the dealer management systems company based in Dayton, OH.

E-fin founder and President, David A. Sinclair, says its system is crafted to be readily accessible to dealer hardware "and takes the place of the `greasy' fax button that made processing of credit applications often inefficient, slow and prone to errors."

Based in Deerfield Beach, FL, World Omni is launching the online auction site for its "Platinum Certified" off-lease vehicles at 162 Southeast Toyota dealers. Its partner on this venture is e-commerce auto remarketer Autodaq Corp. of Menlo Park, CA.

The World Omni auctions are to be presented weekly or semi-weekly. They'll initially be for World Omni's floorplan dealer customers, then ultimately expand to as many as 4,000 and 5,000 dealers on a national basis, says Andy Mahoney, World Omni's vice-president for corporate vehicle remarketing.

About 100 vehicles of all brands are currently being offered on each auction, says Mr. Mahoney, but as the rollout expands, the average auction pool could reach 300 to 400 units.

From their dealership desks, used-car managers can bid online in real time for the certified pre-owneds or submit "proxy bids" which allow the Autodaq system to bid automatically for them in $50 increments up to a pre-specified maximum amount.

Mr. Mahoney says all Platinum Certified pre-owned vehicles are reconditioned for auctioning at the I-Motors facility in Atlanta.

In pilot testing among the Southeast Toyota dealers, "a bit of apprehension existed about switching from the long-existing system of bidding directly at auctions," Mr. Mahoney says. "But once the dealer personnel saw how precise the data and vehicle photos are on the computer screen, they were sold."

Once a full rollout is achieved, World Omni expects to increase its own revenues slightly from off-lease resales because of cost savings over shipping vehicles back and forth and using manual paperwork.