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Cobalt's 2004 e-Business Solutions Earn Fifth Consecutive NADA Endorsement

January 29, 2004

The Cobalt Group, a provider of automotive CRM and online retailing solutions, and the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) on Jan. 29 announced that the NADA has extended its exclusive endorsement of Cobalt's comprehensive online retailing tools for the fifth consecutive year.

Cobalt's 2004 NADA-endorsed dealer Web sites feature powerful new capabilities that it said help dealers better merchandise their products and services throughout their online storefront, attract more customers to their dealerships, tap into emerging markets, and close more leads. Cobalt is the only e-business provider to ever be endorsed by NADA.

"The Cobalt-NADA relationship helps ensure that NADA dealers have an online retailing program that promotes their dealerships' products and services to their market as effectively as possible, drives traffic to the showroom, and helps them close more leads," said Alan Starling, NADA's chairman. "We're confident that this endorsement will help NADA-member dealerships maximize their online customers' experience with new tools and applications that will also drive dealership profits and efficiencies. NADA will continue to encourage dealers to move their business operations forward by embracing these powerful new technologies. We are pleased to continue to work with Cobalt as NADA's exclusive online retailing technology partner."

The NADA-endorsed Cobalt solutions, Nitra Complete, Nitra Extended and Nitra Core, include Cobalt's e-business and lead management applications as well as Nitra's Web site management tools. NADA has also endorsed Cobalt's targeted solutions designed to help dealers develop new revenue opportunities. These include the Nitra Spanish-language Website Solution, the Parts Marketing Solution, and the Dealer Group Portal.

"Cobalt's NADA-endorsed e-business solutions deliver the industry's most powerful online marketing while offering new tools that help dealers target new markets, achieve higher sales and improve customer satisfaction," said John Holt, president and CEO of The Cobalt Group.

The foundation of Cobalt's NADA-endorsed offerings is Cobalt Nitra, Cobalt's flagship e-business platform developed exclusively to meet the needs of a growing automotive retailing business. Cobalt said the Nitra provides dealers with round-the-clock access to tools for managing and updating their online dealership and a library of marketing content that enables them to update and customize their online retailing program from any Internet-enabled PC.

Nitra is an e-business platform endorsed by 12 OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and used daily by 5,000 dealerships.

"Since Nitra's debut at NADA 2002, nearly a quarter of the nation's automobile dealers have converted to the Nitra platform," Holt said. "This year's solutions take Nitra's capacity to a new level of opportunity for dealers. Cobalt is honored that NADA has recognized our commitment to their dealer members through our strong and growing partnership. We're proud that dealers think of us as a partner in their success, not just as another vendor."

According to Cobalt, the Nitra Core Solution offers a suite of customizable e-business marketing and management tools, including:

  • Media Tracker call tracking and reporting, enabling Internet managers to capture detailed information about Web site phone-up leads and better evaluate the ROI of their online retailing program.

  • Service Center Express maintenance schedules and menu pricing, driving profitable routine maintenance to the service department.

  • Extensive content management tools, including Cobalt Website Manager for Nitra, Marketing Library Manager, AutoShow inventory manager and the AdWizard Plus ad-building tool.

  • The Nitra Core Solution is also backed by Cobalt's eCare support and product training.

    The Nitra Extended Solution offers all the features of the Nitra Core Solution, plus the Image Marketing Pak, which offers a series of new products designed to allow dealers to create a standout online storefront geared towards generating more leads:

  • The Platinum Flash Library is designed to help dealers create an exciting online presence with Flash designs and objects that provide animation, music, and interactivity.

  • Promotion Builder is designed to help generate more leads by allowing dealers to capture customer information through engaging online promotions.

  • AdWizard Premium is designed to help dealers merchandise their specials and strategically channel leads throughout their Web sites.

  • Survey Builder is designed to allow dealers to create custom Web site and service surveys to open customer dialogs and measure consumer satisfaction more effectively.

    The Advanced Vehicle Research Pak features tools that allow consumers to conduct detailed research on the dealer Web site resulting in less reliance on third-party sites and more leads to the dealer including:

  • The Vehicle Media Gallery is designed to add sizzle to dealership inventory presentation by offering consumers 18 interior and exterior stock vehicle photos in their inventory as well as 360-degree virtual "walk-arounds" and a Flash-based colorization tool.

  • Cobalt's Make & Match vehicle configurator and comparator is designed to drive customers toward a purchase decision while highlighting the advantages of the dealer's product lines.

    The Nitra Complete Solution offers all the features of the Nitra Extended Solution and the Nitra Core Solution, plus:

  • Lead Manager Customer Central, which offers dealerships lead management capabilities along with CRM essentials.

  • Media Tracker call tracking and reporting with five toll-free numbers.

    NADA has also endorsed the following targeted solutions:

  • The Spanish-language Website Solution is a localized retailing solution designed to help dealers develop stronger relationship with prospects and owners in the Hispanic community, the nation's fastest growing consumer demographic. The Spanish-language Website Solution features a fully translated Web site, Hispanic marketing content, and free ongoing translation services.

  • The Parts Marketing Solution is designed to help dealers reach new customers and significantly increase dealership revenue by marketing their parts and accessories to a worldwide online audience. The Parts Marketing Solution features Cobalt's Parts Counter Express, now with a shipping module to speed parts fulfillment.

  • The Dealer Group Portal is designed to allow dealer groups to capitalize on their branding and network of stores by aggregating inventory onto a portal family site. According to Cobalt, the Dealer Group Portal helps dealer groups market their inventory selection more profitably, attract more customers, and efficiently route leads to individual locations for prompt follow-up and increased closing ratios.

    "This year's NADA-endorsed solutions represent the high point of Cobalt's decade-long commitment to providing dealers the most effective e-business products on the market," Holt said. "These solutions help dealers capitalize on three-plus years of technology development on the Nitra platform. We're very proud to offer dealers the most advanced, effective marketing and merchandising capabilities available today. Now more than ever, dealers can count on Cobalt to drive profits to every part of their business."

    To sign up for any of Cobalt's NADA-endorsed solutions or to get more information about Cobalt's products and services, telephone Cobalt toll-free at (866) 439-2258 or e-mail sales@cobaltgroup.com.

    About the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA)

    The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) represents more than 20,000 new car and truck dealers, with more than 43,000 separate franchises, both domestic and import.

    For more information, visit www.nada.org or call (703) 821-7000.

    About The Cobalt Group

    The Cobalt Group (www.cobaltgroup.com) is a provider of automotive online retailing and CRM solutions.

    For nearly a decade Cobalt has worked exclusively in the automotive retail market developing integrated e-business programs designed to help manufacturers and dealers increase their profits and operational efficiencies.

    Cobalt offers products and services including enterprise software; customer relationship management (CRM) applications; e-commerce applications; an OEM parts locating and marketing service; and e-business best practices training and consultation.

    Cobalt's dealership network includes 12,000 franchised dealers and more than 70 of the nation's 100 largest dealer groups. Cobalt is the only software technology provider ever endorsed by 18 manufacturers and the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA). Cobalt's e-business solutions have received five consecutive annual NADA endorsements.

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