Ford Motor Company and Microsoft have formed a joint venture to develop the first online build-to-order system to link consumers' orders directly to manufacturers' supply and delivery systems.
By the first quarter of 2000 consumers will be able to specify and order cars on Web sites including Microsoft's Carpoint and Ford's Ford.com.
The build-to-order system will provide consumers with access to realtime information throughout the buying process, including vehicle availability, anticipated delivery schedules and notification of delivery plans. The technology will also enable manufacturers and dealers to get instant, simultaneous online views of the order status.
"The consumer is driving a revolution in automotive retailing and Ford intends to be at the forefront of that revolution," said Jacques Nasser, Ford president and chief executive.
He added that consumers will be able to choose paint, interiors and other accessories to customize a car to their particular requirements.
Microsoft president, Steve Ballmer, said: "Carpoint is going to change the way cars are bought and sold with technology that brings together manufacturers and dealers to deliver the services and cars consumers want."
The technology integrates Microsoft Carpoint systems with manufacturer and dealer systems and includes Microsoft Windows 2000 operating system, Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 and the Biztalk Server for XML-based business to business ecommerce.
Another example of Carpoint technology is Dealerpoint, an online management system designed to help dealers manage and quickly respond to Internet prospects, reduce dealership lot time and monitor online sales performance. The Dealerpoint technology will be licensed to Ford Motor dealerships and Honda Motors is also expected to license the Dealerpoint technology.
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