Autobytel.com Launches Banking Center

In an effort to simplify the car-buying process, online automobile dealer Autobytel.com (Nasdaq: ABTL) has launched a new online banking center that will allow buyers to compare loan rates from up to four lenders. The center is partnered with online loan marketplace LendingTree and online credit automation company CMSI (Nasdaq: CMSS).

The free financing service is available to consumers who are using Autobytel.com to purchase an automobile, as well as to customers who are buying cars elsewhere. Buyers can submit requests for new or used automobile leases and loans. Autobytel.com says customers can receive bids in as little as 10 minutes.

“The launch of this consumer-focused financing tool is yet another step Autobytel.com is taking to provide consumers with ‘selection protection’ throughout the car ownership process,” said Ann Delligatta, chief operating officer of Autobytel.com. “Autobytel.com’s mission has always been to transform the traditional car buying and ownership process”

Autobytel.com also says that it is working to streamline the financing process for its dealer network. The new financing initiatives are being led by the company’s recently-appointed director of financial products, Patrick DeMarco. Prior to joining Autobytel.com, DeMarco worked at Nissan — where he was model line manager — and the Ford Motor Company. At Ford, DeMarco worked on dealer-specific plans that concentrated on improving sales, marketing, leasing and customer satisfaction.

Autobytel.com Ranked Number One

According to J.D. Power and Associates, Autobytel.com — which also operates Web sites for Canada, the United Kingdom and Sweden — is the top online automobile dealer, generating as many new-vehicle sales as its two closest competitors combined. Autobytel.com was also ranked first in dealer satisfaction by J.D. Power for the second year in a row, and number one in customer confidence.

In addition, Autobytel.com was ranked number one in customer confidence and first among “serious shoppers” in Gomez Advisors’ summer “Internet Auto Scorecard.”

Stock Impact

Shares of Autobytel.com climbed 7/8 to $16 in early trading today after the news. The stock is trading significantly below its March initial public offering price of $21 and well off its all-time high of 58. Autobytel.com’s market capitalization of less than $300 million is tiny compared to many other well-known e-commerce companies, but investors may be leery of a company that lost nearly $6 million in its most recent quarter.

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