Now banks are getting into the third-party lead generation business. Consumer Finance, National City Corporation (NYSE: NCC) announced last week the launch of NCAutoChannel.com, the nation's first bank-sponsored online automotive shopping site.

NCAutoChannel.com brings together the auto manufacturer, car dealer and lending organization to make auto shopping more convenient, cost-effective and reliable than any other automotive marketplace on the Internet today. The service is provided free of charge to dealers and consumers, regardless of their current affiliation with any particular bank.

Peter E. Raskind, executive vice president, explained, "Research indicates that customers are searching for a more efficient and cost-effective means of purchasing vehicles. By combining Internet technology with our network of over 4000 auto dealers we'll be able to help consumers streamline the auto shopping process. We are pleased to offer this feature on our existing corporate web site, Nationalcity.com."

As part of the NationalCity.com web site, NCAutoChannel.com allows the consumer to request a quote from a dealer on the price of a vehicle, check the value of their trade-in, and then calculate the loan payment required for the purchase.

The site also features automotive news, car care tips, and vehicle comparisons along with pricing. A dealer locator is also available so consumers can contact their neighborhood dealers directly.

Once an auto shopper has selected a vehicle, National City returns to them a list of participating National City auto dealers in their local market area. The consumer can then choose the dealer or dealers they would like to quote on their new vehicle. National City will then forward this information to the selected dealers. Dealers then contact the shopper directly with pricing or other information requested. There is no charge to either the consumer or the dealer for this service.

In order to gauge the response and performance of the participating dealers, National City asks consumers to complete a short survey sent out a few weeks after they've requested their quotes.