Ford and Trilogy Forge E-Commerce Alliance

Number two U.S. automaker Ford Motor Company said today that it will form a joint venture with business software and e-business solutions company Trilogy Software to develop and operate its consumer Web sites.

The Detroit, Michigan-based auto giant said it will retain a majority stake in the venture. Both companies, it said, will make a “significant” financial investment in the new venture.

The new company will be based in Austin, Texas, Trilogy’s hometown, and will have offices in Dearborn, Michigan and Irvine, California. Additional offices will be located in Europe.

According to Ford executives, the venture will help the company establish a network of sites that will utilize Trilogy’s multi-channel e-commerce platform to propel online sales of its Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Volvo, Mazda and Jaguar brands of automobiles.

“Our customer-focused e-business strategy reflects the future of the Ford Motor Company, and Trilogy was the clear choice as the Internet partner to ensure that our Internet strategy — and the strategy of our dealer partners — is a global success,” said Ford CEO Jac Nasser.

Changing Auto Showrooms

The online push by Ford symbolizes an emphasis by the Big Three automakers to drive up Internet sales. Auto manufacturers have been responding to data showing that as much as 40 percent of new car buyers are going online for information before they make a purchase.

In developing an Internet strategy, the Big Three — Ford, General Motors and Chrysler — are walking a tightrope in filling the Internet gap without dismantling their time-honored relationship with auto dealers across the United States.

However, Ford said today that the new venture will work closely with its network of dealers to develop the new Web sites, but it remains to be seen whether the automaker and its dealers are on the same page when it comes to future Internet strategy.

Ford recently signed a deal with Yahoo! to market its cars on the portal, and also teamed with Microsoft’s CarPoint to arrange for consumers to link up to the manufacturer to check on a car’s availability and arrange for delivery to a local dealership.

Triumph for Trilogy

The closely-held Trilogy Software will surely receive a spike in attention as a result of this new venture. The company has provided e-business software and solutions to over 300 corporations from offices in Austin, Boston and Paris.

In addition to its products and services, Trilogy operates a network of Internet sites, including, which enables computer manufacturers and suppliers to buy and sell online. Appliance retail site and auto retail site are also part of the network.

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