DETROIT - Ford Motor Co. is to boost its online presence by joining with Internet provider Yahoo! to introduce a wide-ranging marketing and information service.
Meanwhile, General Motors is planning a similar deal with America Online, the largest web portal - or entrance site - to the Internet.
Under the Ford-Yahoo! program, car owners will be able to access owner guides and Ford Credit information, receive recall notices and service reminders and keep up auto maintenance records.
In coming months, owners will also be able to schedule appointments with dealers through Ford's OwnerCollection, or even chat and correspond with Ford engineers through Yahoo! clubs and Yahoo! message boards.
The personalized marketing program, unveiled on January 9 at the North American International Auto Show here, allows owners of Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Mazda vehicles to register at Yahoo! Autos (autos. yahoo.com) or at Ford's Owner-Collection (ownercollection.com) site.
The service will be extended to owners of Jaguar and Volvo vehicles later this year. Ford's family of brands has an estimated 40 million owners.
'Our mantra is to be where consumers are online,' said Jamie Allison, e-marketing manager at Ford. 'At the core of this is the opportunity for our owners to be able to maintain their vehicles online,' he added, referring to the service reminders.
Ford has ventured into interactive marketing before. Last year it signed co-marketing deals with [email protected], women's online community iVillage, Microsoft Corp.'s MSN CarPoint and others.
GM is finalizing details of a similar marketing deal with America Online Inc. that will link their respective websites.
Under that agreement, America Online is also expected to provide online services for GM's next-generation OnStar in-vehicle communications system. The new OnStar system, due out this year, will give OnStar subscribers voice-activated access to the Internet.
The two companies will build on an alliance created last June when America Online invested $1.5 billion in GM's Hughes Electronics Corp. subsidiary.
Joe Miller contributed to this report