4car.co.uk is a joint venture between Channel 4 and EWorld Interactive, designed to complement the TV programmes Driven and Deals on Wheels.
The news feed will come from the 4car editorial team headed by former Car magazine editor Richard Bremner.
Other editorial content will include new car road tests, impartial buying advice and features. A crucial facet of the partnership with Hartwell – positioned at number six in the AM100 with a £745m turnover – is the provision of a customer management computer programme, which is being installed in the group's 55 outlets.
It will allow dealer staff to keep an electronic database of every qualified lead. With their consent, leads will be kept informed of special offers and can receive personalised e-mails from 4car on the latest automotive news and features.
Hartwell is paying set-up costs and monthly subscriptions for the 4car service.
Mike Ward, 4car business development director, said at the Birmingham motor show dealers were failing to exploit information provided by showroom leads.
“The software provided to Hartwell will allow, with the customer's consent, a feed of information from the 4car site tailored to their needs and interests, as well as informing them of aftersales services,” he said.
“The facility reduces the need for the industry to spend so much money on marketing. When you have a willingly captive audience that is being kept in the loop, it is more likely to return for the next car.”