MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Google Cars’ beta program concluded last week, the company confirmed. But officials indicated that the stoppage is only temporary.  

Since June 2012, online visitors searching for vehicles in the Bay area were directed to inventory of local dealers from Google’s homepage. But starting last week, Google began informing Google Cars users the program is only on hiatus.

“The Google San Francisco Bay Area car search beta program has been discontinued as we focus on building the next version of our experience for car-related searches. Stay tuned for more news!” read a message on the Google Cars webpage.

A Google spokesperson declined to comment on the reason for discontinuing the program, as well as if and when it is slated to re-launch. “We are concluding the car search beta in the San Francisco Bay Area as we focus on building the next version of our experience for car-related searches,” he said in an email. “We remain committed to the space and look forward to sharing more news soon.”

Although some in the auto industry have taken this as a sign that “Google failed,” Brian Pasch insists the program “is not dead.” He is the CEO of Eatontown, N.J.-based PCG Digital Marketing, a firm that closely follows auto-related activity at Google.

“[Google is] retooling the project to add some additional functionality that they realized they had to add. … Some of the industry pundits were giggling or happy that they thought Google failed,” Pasch told F&I and Showroom at this past weekend’s NADA Convention and Expo in New Orleans. “I wouldn’t count them out. Google has the ability to do anything it wants. Some of the people said, ‘Oh wow. Google finally found out how hard it is to be in the car business.’

“That’s not why the program got put on hold. They know the potential of the program, and they know that it will be a revenue stream,” he added. “They are very concerned about doing it right because of the regulations in each state. Compliance is very high [priority].”

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Stephanie Forshee

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