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Automaker hopes Web can ignite sales of pre-owned cars


In the past three years, I've used the Internet for information when I was shopping for both my car and the one my wife purchased.

I've used the Web for up-to-the-minute info on what car manufacturers are doing, and even frequented KyCarWave.com to see what my "next" car is selling for these days.

But for guys who, like me, like to maintain their own cars can rejoice, there's a new Web site that also encompasses something for nearly everyone.

USAutoNews.com is a new auto industry portal Web site that has something for anyone who can use the latest in automotive news and information.

It's incredibly simply to use, and effective.

In addition to news, the section of the Web site that initially caught my eye was the Parts Lookup feature.

The spark plugs on my car were the cause of severe driveability problems a couple of years ago. I was unable to find over-the-counter replacements, and I was forced to pay a dealer to do the work -- which wasn't cheap.

With the Parts Lookup feature at USAutoNews.com, I found that there are several aftermarket suppliers now that offer the sparkplug wire sets -- and at handsome savings compared to the dealer's installed prices.

The Parts Lookup database has the information broken out by vendor, so you can get the retail price of the same replacement part under a variety of brand names -- and in the searches I've performed, the price range can be vary substantially. Obviously it pays to shop around, and USAutoNews.com makes that task as simple as the click of the mouse.

But USAutoNews.com is much more than a parts catalog -- you've find sections devoted to the latest industry news and links divided by categories: NHTSA recalls, appraisal guides, autobody, rentals, finance, leasing and much more.

As a former body shop owner and operator, the autobody category drew my attention. I wasn't disappointed.

I found links to all the manufacturers of the products I've used, along with the latest products that have hit the market since the days when I repaired cars.

For more information, visit USAutoNews.com on the Web and enjoy!

USED CARS ONLINE. While on the topic of things automotive, auto giant General Motors is finally rolling out its online version of its online pre-owned car dealership.

The GM DriverSite (www.gmdriversite.com) is a searchable database that is basically an extension of its physical used car inventory at its north Houston DriverSite "bricks-and-mortar" location.

The database lists the cars and is complete with photos, descriptions and "no-haggle" prices. While visiting the Web site, a browser can put down a refundable $100 deposit to hold a vehicle for a test drive.

The concept isn't new -- KyCarWave has offered the exact same sort of service locally (without requiring a deposit) now for quite some time. And unlike the GM site, KyCarWave has the advantage of offering a wider selection of makes and models. The GM site is limited solely to those manufactured by GM.

This site is just a prototype, and the number of cars is limited (for now) to just those at the Houston DriverSite dealership).

But the experiment lead to bigger and better things from GM -- if they don't fall too far behind the pack of Web sites that are already vying for your business online.

BOUND AND GAGGED. The advent of the home computer signaled the beginning of the end for consumer purchases of the printed-and-bound encyclopedia.

An encyclopedia-on-CD-ROM was my first purchase after I paid a week's salary for that first 1x CD ROM drive I bought for my IBM XT clone PC.

No, that CD wasn't the quality of World Book or Encyclopedia Britannica; but both companies later followed suit with their own CD versions.

The Internet Revolution has hit encyclopedias hard, and most recently, Encyclopedia Britannica announced it was for the first time publishing its content online at no charge. The site's content was previously available only by subscription.

The site -- www.Britannica.com -- was deluged by millions of users after it the free access was announced, and the company's Web servers were overwhelmed with traffic and crashed.

At this writing, the site's content was still unavailable, according to a letter posted by company CEO Don Yannias.

"In many ways, we have truly been victims of our own success," Yannias writes. No date for renewed access is listed, though Yannias' message promises the technical issues will "be resolved shortly."

For the record, Encyclopedia Britannica will continue its next bound volumes in 2001 as well as CD ROM. It was first published in 1768 in Scotland, and was introduced in the U.S. in 1888.

The market for its bound volumes has diminished rapidly in the past decade. The company reported $650 million in revenues and a sales force of 2,300 in 1988. In 1998, Britannica reported only $300 million in sales. The company ended the practice of making house sales calls in 1996, according to C|Net.

MAC MANIA. If you were near an authorized Apple reseller recently, you probably saw what looked like a party in process.

Apple has been using in-store promotions to highlight its new iMacs, Power Mac G4 desktop systems, the new Mac OS9 and iBooks that are now available.

In-store specials will mean bargain prices for some of the new Apple wares, so if you're one of the followers of Macintosh, you'll want to be on the lookout for the new Mac stuff.

Apple plans Demo Days events (which can feature additional in-store specials) for the weekends of Nov. 13-14, Nov. 26-28, Dec. 4-5 and Dec. 11-12.

For more information (and a list of Apple retailers), visit the Apple Resource Locator at the company's Web site, www.apple.com.

TO THE NET. IBM announced this week it would pull its Aptiva PCs from retail outlets and focus instead on selling them exclusively over the Web.

The Aptiva line has lost money for IBM, and beginning Jan. 1, 2000, the company will begin removing them from about 70 retail chains. IBM's profitable line of notebooks will continue to be sold in stores.

IBM has refused to cut the prices on the economy-priced Aptiva line -- in the wake of the rapidly expanding number of under-$600 computers now on the market.

Comments and questions about this column may be sent to jbrooks@myoldkentuckyhome.com, or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com on the World Wide Web.

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