TechnologyCar makers dump e-commerce

Car makers dump e-commerce

Car manufacturing giants Ford and General Motors (GM) have scaled back their ambitious internet plans, as they have ended as money losing ventures.

Ford said it would sell its stake in Internet Capital Group (ICG), which rose to prominence as a so-called ‘incubator’ of business-to-business software companies in the late 1990s. The move comes after Ford lost all of its $50m investment in the ecommerce holding company two years ago.

In a filing with US regulator the Securities and Exchange Commission, the car maker said it planned to sell 462,962 shares of ICG stock.

Ford originally paid $108 a share, but it closed at $1.22 making Ford’s stake worth $564,814 (Pounds 389,688), according to the filing. The company said the divestiture would allow it to write off the losses.

As another part of its move to reverse big losses this year, Ford cut back its online initiative to give computers and a cheap internet service to all employees. The company is continuing to provide web connections to the 166,000 employees who already have computers.

Separately, GM announced that it has withdrawn its plan for a joint venture with US dealers that would attract customers who now go to third-party sites for information instead of GM’s own site.

GM cancelled plans to form a $50m company called AutoCentric ‘due to a determination that the business model is not viable at this time’.

The company had intended to fund AutoCentric by selling half of it to GM’s 7800 dealers for $25m and providing another $25m itself.

GM said in November that it would fold its ebusiness arm, which had about 100 employees, back into the corporate organisation.

Although US auto sales are headed for a banner year in 2001, Ford lost money in the second quarter and expects to post a third-quarter loss as well. GM has remained profitable.

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