2001 Models Are Here

Detroit announces parts and service portal

DETROIT, Dec. 7 (PRNewswire)  In what could be termed a curious move, since Covisint, their much-praised exchange, doesn't even have a permanent home yet, the Big Three automakers have formed another joint online venture. Ford Motor Co.'s Automotive Consumer Services Group, the Mopar Parts Division of DaimlerChrysler Corp., General Motors Service Parts Operations, and Bell & Howell jointly announced today that they have combined efforts to form a B2B integrated original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts and service portal. This new, yet-to-be-named venture will be the OE connection for parts and service, providing dealers and their wholesale customers a secure, single source for their parts and service needs. It will facilitate the flow of OEM parts between franchised dealers and their customers, beginning with independent collision shops.

The companies plan to first launch this portal in the United States and Canada, with the vision of going global. This venture creates a common OEM replacement parts and service portal that will automate and integrate the parts and service supply chain among the OE manufacturer, its dealers and each dealer's wholesale customers  including collision shops, fleets and mechanical repair shops, said Chuck Rotuno, formerly senior vice president and general manager, Global Automotive Publishing, at Bell & Howell Publishing Services, and the venture's newly appointed president and CEO.

Expected products and services include B2B links between dealers and their customers, integration into existing business management systems, parts locating and transaction capabilities, electronic data validation and conversion, and OEM parts and service information.

The three automakers and Bell & Howell are equity participants in the new venture, with Bell & Howell being the lead technology partner. Dozens of dot-coms have popped up, each with the promise of bringing an Internet-based solution to automotive parts retailing, said John Smith, GM vice president and general manager of GM Service Parts Operations. This venture is different for two reasons. First, it represents the three largest vehicle manufacturers in the United States and the leading provider of automotive parts catalogs. These players have resources and their respective existing dealer and customer bases to assure success. Second, we have the bricks to go with the clicks. We have OE parts, up-to-date OE catalog data, OEM service information, and the largest dealer network in the world to service the automotive repair aftermarket. No other players have such extensive assets.

Darrell Davis, senior vice president, DaimlerChrysler Corp. Service and Parts Operations, said, This new portal will allow parts to flow more efficiently at the dealer level, as well as give customers unprecedented accuracy to choose the right part and having it delivered faster than ever before.

The initial product offering of this new venture is CollisionLink (patent pending), developed by Bell & Howell. CollisionLink electronically facilitates the parts quoting, ordering and order validation processes between dealers and collision shops in a secure environment. Due to our integration with existing collision estimating systems, collision shops send their estimate by the Internet to their existing dealer provider of choice  24/7, said Jim Roemer, chief executive officer of Bell & Howell. The estimate is electronically scrubbed' or validated, which results in the right part being received the first time, the number of returned parts are reduced, repair delays and other associated costs are diminished, repair cycle time is decreased, and customers get back into their cars more quickly.

While initial product and service functionality will target dealer-to- collision shop and dealer-to-dealer transactions, this parts and service portal could eventually support all dealer wholesale parts transactions including those to fleet and independent service center customers. This OEM portal will be an Internet site for dealers that sell genuine OEM parts to their customers.

Other affiliates and alliances of the three automakers also plan to participate in this OEM parts and service portal. These include Isuzu, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mazda, Saab, Saturn, Subaru and Volvo.