In a bid to broaden the range of products available to its Internet car shoppers, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. has launched a new program with Autobytel.com to make Toyota's extended service contracts available on the Web.
The program is open to consumers who buy Toyota vehicles through Autobytel. It is the first time a car maker has marketed factory-backed extended service contracts online.
Car companies are still trying to figure out how to best use the Internet without taking away sales from dealers. The Toyota service contract program is an effort to use e-commerce to provide information to online shoppers that could end up boosting Toyota dealers' sales of profitable products such as extended warranties.
The contracts, which typically offer consumers low-deductible insurance covering repairs to various parts and components beyond the original factory warranty, are sold by Toyota Motor Insurance Services Inc., a subsidiary of Torrance-based Toyota Motor Sales.
Previously, new-car buyers who used an online service like that offered by Autobytel.com would have to visit the new-car dealer to get information about extended service and to purchase such contracts.
Now, consumers interested in Toyota vehicles can research the car maker's extended warranty prices and coverage before making a purchase decision, and can buy the contract at the same time they submit a car purchase request through Autobytel, said Mark Lorimer, president of the Irvine-based electronic auto shopping service.
Consumers also will be able to use the Internet to compare the factory program with various independently marketed extended service programs before making a purchase decision.