Direct Line is to spend £50m to create an Internet one-stop shop for motorists.
Direct Line hopes to revolutionise car sales and auctions, parts retailing, motoring information provision and financial services with the move. The project is the top priority for the insurer's e-commerce and IT staff, with a mid-summer launch planned for the unnamed site.
The intended motoring portal will eventually feature Net access through wireless application protocol technology and in-car telematics. Direct Line hopes it will shake up the car market in the same way that the launch of the direct-selling company shook up the staid insurance world.
Late last year, Direct Line appointed a new head of electronic commerce, Oliver Prill, with a brief to push the company into new e-commerce markets via the Internet.
One of Prill's key tasks in preparation for the summer launch is to ensure that the company's IT systems will support the expected explosion in Web hits. So far, directline.com has received 50 million hits, generating 350,000 insurance quotes.