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By Antonio A. Prado
Investor's Business Daily
There's no question that the Internet has made car buyers smarter, says Jim Oberto, head of online operations at Airport Marina Ford in Los Angeles.
Every day, people show up on his car lot with fistfuls of printouts from theWeb. Customers know more about the cars they're shopping for than ever before.Often they're dead set on what they want to buy.
And when they can make their own custom car online, they get really creative. "Customers will build a vehicle that simply doesn't exist," he said.
That can be a problem. Chances are, the dealer won't have that imaginary caron the lot. That calls for complex and costly special orders, Oberto says.
Automakers hope to change that, banking that the Net will make it easier to sell more cars built to order.
That could cut the cost of making each car by hundreds or thousands of dollars, analysts say. And they won't have to deal with as many boom-bust salescycles.
General Motors …