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AutoNation's e-Commerce Reaches Record for Speed As More of Its Customers View On-Line Pricing Data

Apr. 19, 2000

AutoNation Runs Counter to Recent Consumer Reports' Findings

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., April 19 /PRNewswire/ -- AutoNation, Inc. (NYSE: AN) today announced that its average response time to on-line requests for vehicle information, test drives and financing improved to 1.2 hours in March while the no-haggle price quote feature at AutoNationDirect.com was accessed more than 183,000 times. The quick response times and availability of on-line price quotes run counter to recent "Consumer Reports'" findings about the slow and cumbersome nature of many auto-buying web sites.

The Company cited the April edition of "Consumer Reports," which features survey results from 1,056 shoppers who tested web sites aimed at vehicle buyers. Only 35% of the "Consumer Reports" shoppers said they received a price quote within two days. That's in contrast to the immediate, on-line accessibility of low, no-haggle price information at AutoNationDirect.com, and the quick responses to site visitors delivered by AutoNation's more than 900 Internet Sales Guides (ISGs). AutoNation monitors the performance of its Internet sales force through a proprietary, web-based tool called "Compass" which tracks e-mails sent to the automotive retailer's more than 400 new vehicle franchises.

AutoNation Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Jackson said the Company's response times to on-line customer requests have improved steadily since the Company entered the e-Commerce business in 1998. Mr. Jackson credits the sales skills of AutoNation's ISGs, new proprietary technologies that have made on-line requests manageable and the accessibility of pricing and inventory data on AutoNationDirect.com. AutoNation's first full year at e-Commerce (1999) generated Internet-related revenue of more than $1 billion as the Company sold 46,000 new and used vehicles.

"The 'Consumer Reports'' findings suggest the automotive industry norm for responding to on-line requests continues to be at least two days," Mr. Jacksonsaid. "Meanwhile, our best dealers, on average, have begun to respond to on-line requests in under a half-hour. That's the real standard all of us in the industry should be shooting for."

The "Consumer Reports'" survey did not include web sites operated by dealerships, such as those operated by AutoNation, which Mr. Jackson said was "short-sighted" because dealers are the real "direct" on-line retailers putting new and used vehicles within mouse clicks of consumers.

"AutoNationDirect.com is more effective because AutoNation is the retailer," said Mr. Jackson. "None of the web sites reviewed by 'Consumer Reports' actually have vehicles to sell, which makes none of them 'direct.' These are referral web sites that act as 'middlemen' and, to date, have been unable to deliver the kind of seamless web transaction now offered by our AutoNation dealerships through AutoNationDirect.com."

"Consumer Reports" also found 22% of its e-shoppers were told that they would have to visit a dealership to get a firm selling price. By contrast, each vehicle in AutoNationDirect.com's on-line inventory of more than 100,000 vehicles is featured with an easy-to-access, low, no-haggle price. Mr. Jackson said the fact that AutoNationDirect's price quote feature was accessed more than 183,000 times last month speaks to the power of having such data available on-line.

"What's the point of shopping on-line if you can't get the information you need to make a buying decision?" Mr. Jackson asked. "Consumers want to know the price of a vehicle, and the data we're seeing suggests they're increasingly taking advantage of that information on AutoNationDirect.com."

Mr. Jackson believes publications such as "Consumer Reports" have failed to include web sites operated by dealerships in their reviews of automotive e- Commerce because of conventional wisdom that suggests the best on-line automotive shopping solutions are those that avoid bricks-and-mortar dealers.

"That just doesn't make sense," Mr. Jackson said. "Consumers need to know there are very good dealers who are recognizing the power of the Internet. In the end, these dealers, along with AutoNation, will be the ones who will make the on-line shopping experience a seamless transition into the showroom."

About AutoNation, Inc.

AutoNation, Inc. is America's largest automotive retailer, on and off the Internet, operating more than 400 new vehicle franchises in 19 states and more than 200 web sites. The Company's revenue in 1999 totaled more than $20 billion, making it a Fortune 100 company. AutoNation expects its Internet-related revenue will reach $1.5 billion this year.

Certain statements and information included in this release constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Federal Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements. Additional discussion of factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from management's projections, forecasts, estimates and expectations is contained in the Company's SEC filings.

SOURCE AutoNation, Inc.
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