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Ford's Internet Sales Rise 15 Percent

The Internet and search engine marketing are driving sales for Ford Motor Co., which said last week that 10 percent of 2005's retail sales in the Ford Division came from consumers who started their car shopping process through a FordDirect Internet referral.

Ford said it sold 250,000 vehicles through FordDirect, up 15 percent from 2004. Car dealers saved money, too, because their average cost per vehicle sold was only $100, one-fourth the cost through traditional marketing. The announcement was made before the National Automobile Dealers Association annual conference began in Orlando, FL.

Launched in 2000, FordDirect.com is a joint venture between Ford Motor Co. and 4,500 of its franchised dealers. FordDirect manages 100,000 search terms to drive traffic to local dealers, and dealers pay only when an actual lead is generated.

Ford said FordDirect also will manage the Ford Motor Co.'s dealer Web sites, called DealerConnection. FordDirect also will add enhanced CRM applications to Ford's dealer lead management system.

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