PARIS - France's second biggest auto dealer group has announced ambitious plans to grow both its online and traditional used-car businesses.
Cica, a unit of Britain's Jardine International Motors, has launched a new division that will manage six different businesses dealing with the sale of used cars by Internet, satellite television and dedicated outlets.
The new Exlinea division plans to sell about 5,000 used cars through its various channels this year and jump to 35,000 units by 2003. The Internet sales are independent from Cica's existing dealerships.
Revenue from the new businesses is expected to increase to FF2.5 billion (A380 million) in 2003 from FF300 million this year.
Cica sold 22,500 new and 15,950 used cars and trucks in 1999, a growth of 13.6 percent over 1998. It posted revenues of FF3.7 billion, a 10 percent increase.
Only PGA Motors is bigger among French dealer groups.
Cica owns 50 main sales outlets that sell 13 different brands, though mainly Peugeot, Ford and Mercedes-Benz.
The Internet does not expand the car market but it can shift some parts of the market, said Cica CEO Claude Dumas-Pilhou, who will also head Exlinea.
'We want to get into position in these new channels. But Exlinea is neither an auto portal nor an Internet media, it's a used-car distribution system that takes advantage of the net.'
Dumas-Pilhou expects Exlinea to break even in 2002 and to be profitable by 2003.
He does not reject listing Exlinea on the Paris stock exchange and may open the unit up to capital participation from outside Jardine group.
Carsat, one of Exlinea's online businesses, is dedicated to used-car auctions.
It currently has about 100 dealer subscribers and plans to triple that number by 2001.
Broadcast by CanalSatellite, a subsidiary of French pay-per-view channel Canal Plus, Carsat currently holds two live auctions per week at which up to 30 cars are sold.
Carsat is targeting sales of 1,400-1,500 units in 2000 and revenue of FF85 million.
Proveo.com is a website that sells used cars sold by Cica's 50 dealerships.
The unit permanently offers 900 vehicles for sale on the site. It is linked with French car portals such as Autovalley.com, and will be opened this year to dealers outside Cica.
Degrifcar.com is a business-to-business site that offers unsold late-model cars at a discount.
Exlinea's 'bricks and mortar' businesses include O'Plus, a network of used-car sales outlets launched in 1999. It currently has locations in Guyancourt and Colmar and plans to open three more this year.
Altogether, up to 10 new O'Plus sites are expected be opened and 10 others located in franchised outlets. About 60 percent of the FF100 million to be invested in Exlinea will go to O'Plus.
Two other Exlinea business units are Adis, the used-car purchasing division of Cica group, and Euro Service, an information systems consultant.
Of the 35,000 cars that Exlinea expects to sell in 2003, 12,000 would go through Carsat, 12,000 through Proveo.com and Degrifcar.com, and about 10,000 through O'Plus outlets, said Olivier Tarbe de Saint-Hardouin, who runs Exlinea Internet operations.
'Cica dealerships will remain an active partner for carmakers by selling new or used cars to captive customers,' said Tarbe de Saint-Hardouin. 'The rest will belong to Exlinea. The used-car market is an El Dorado for us.'