<PAGE>

     
  AS FILED WITH THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION ON MARCH 25, 1997     
                                                     REGISTRATION NO. 333-20831
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                      SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
                            WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
 
                                --------------
                                
                             AMENDMENT NO. 4     
                                      TO
                                   FORM S-1
                            REGISTRATION STATEMENT
                                     UNDER
                          THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933
 
                                --------------
 
                            AUTO-BY-TEL CORPORATION
            (EXACT NAME OF REGISTRANT AS SPECIFIED IN ITS CHARTER)
 
        DELAWARE                     7375                    33-0711569
     (STATE OR OTHER     (PRIMARY STANDARD INDUSTRIAL     (I.R.S. EMPLOYER
     JURISDICTION OF      CLASSIFICATION CODE NUMBER)  IDENTIFICATION NUMBER)
    INCORPORATION OR
      ORGANIZATION)
 
                                --------------
 
                            AUTO-BY-TEL CORPORATION
                     18872 MACARTHUR BOULEVARD, SUITE 200
                         IRVINE, CALIFORNIA 92612-1400
                                (714) 225-4500
  (ADDRESS AND TELEPHONE NUMBER OF REGISTRANT'S PRINCIPAL EXECUTIVE OFFICES)
 
                                --------------
 
                             MARK W. LORIMER, ESQ.
                 VICE PRESIDENT, GENERAL COUNSEL AND SECRETARY
                            AUTO-BY-TEL CORPORATION
                     18872 MACARTHUR BOULEVARD, SUITE 200
                         IRVINE, CALIFORNIA 92612-1400
                                (714) 225-4500
     (NAME, ADDRESS AND TELEPHONE NUMBER OF AGENT FOR SERVICE OF PROCESS)
 
                                --------------
 
                                  COPIES TO:
 
         RICHARD J. CHAR, ESQ.                ROD A. GUERRA, JR., ESQ.
         RICHARD J. HART, ESQ.                  SKADDEN, ARPS, SLATE,
        DAVID M. CAMPBELL, ESQ.                  MEAGHER & FLOM LLP
   WILSON SONSINI GOODRICH & ROSATI            300 SOUTH GRAND AVENUE
       PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION             LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 90071
          650 PAGE MILL ROAD                       (213) 687-5000
      PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA 94304
            (415) 493-9300
 
                                --------------
 
       APPROXIMATE DATE OF COMMENCEMENT OF PROPOSED SALE TO THE PUBLIC:
     As soon as practicable after the effective date of this Registration
                                  Statement.
 
                                --------------
 
  If any of the securities being registered on this Form are to be offered on
a delayed or continuous basis pursuant to Rule 415 under the Securities Act of
1933, check the following box.  [_]
 
  If this form is filed to register additional securities for an offering
pursuant to Rule 462(b) under the Securities Act, please check the following
box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier
effective registration statement for the same offering.  [_]
 
  If this form is a post-effective amendment filed pursuant to Rule 462(c)
under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act
registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement
for the same offering.  [_]
 
  If delivery of the prospectus is expected to be made pursuant to Rule 434,
please check the following box.  [_]
       
                                --------------
  THE REGISTRANT HEREBY AMENDS THIS REGISTRATION STATEMENT ON SUCH DATE OR
DATES AS MAY BE NECESSARY TO DELAY ITS EFFECTIVE DATE UNTIL THE REGISTRANT
SHALL FILE A FURTHER AMENDMENT WHICH SPECIFICALLY STATES THAT THIS
REGISTRATION STATEMENT SHALL THEREAFTER BECOME EFFECTIVE IN ACCORDANCE WITH
SECTION 8(A) OF THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933 OR UNTIL THE REGISTRATION STATEMENT
SHALL BECOME EFFECTIVE ON SUCH DATE AS THE COMMISSION, ACTING PURSUANT TO SAID
SECTION 8(A), MAY DETERMINE.
 
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

<PAGE>
 
                                
                             EXPLANATORY NOTE     
   
  This Amendment No. 4 to the Registration Statement on Form S-1 is being
filed for the purpose of responding to the comments of the Securities and
Exchange Commission, in its letter dated March 21, 1997, to the Company's
application for confidential treatment, revising the exhibit index and
submitting a re-marked version of Exhibits 10.8, 10.9, 10.10, 10.11, 10.12,
10.16, 10.17 and 10.18.     

<PAGE>
 
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN IS SUBJECT TO COMPLETION OR AMENDMENT. A     +
+REGISTRATION STATEMENT RELATING TO THE SECURITIES DESCRIBED HEREIN HAS BEEN   +
+FILED WITH THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION. THESE SECURITIES MAY NOT   +
+BE SOLD NOR MAY OFFERS TO BUY BE ACCEPTED PRIOR TO THE TIME THE REGISTRATION  +
+STATEMENT BECOMES EFFECTIVE. THIS PROSPECTUS SHALL NOT CONSTITUTE AN OFFER TO +
+SELL OR THE SOLICITATION OF AN OFFER TO BUY, NOR SHALL THERE BE ANY SALE OF   +
+THESE SECURITIES IN ANY STATE IN WHICH SUCH OFFER, SOLICITATION OR SALE WOULD +
+BE UNLAWFUL PRIOR TO REGISTRATION OR QUALIFICATION UNDER THE SECURITIES LAWS  +
+OF ANY SUCH STATE.                                                            +
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
                   SUBJECT TO COMPLETION, DATED MARCH 7, 1997
 
                   4,000,000 SHARES
 
                      [LOGO OF AUTO-BY-TEL APPEARS HERE]
 
                            AUTO-BY-TEL CORPORATION
                                  COMMON STOCK
 
  Of the 4,000,000 shares of Common Stock offered hereby (the "Offering"),
3,600,000 are being sold by Auto-By-Tel Corporation ("Auto-By-Tel" or the
"Company") and 400,000 are being sold by the Selling Stockholder. The Company
will not receive any of the proceeds from the sale of shares by the Selling
Stockholder. See "Principal and Selling Stockholders." Prior to the Offering,
there has been no public market for the Common Stock. It is currently estimated
that the initial public offering price will be between $9.50 and $11.00 per
share. See "Underwriting" for a discussion of the factors to be considered in
determining the initial public offering price. The Company's Common Stock has
been approved for listing on the Nasdaq National Market under the symbol
"ABTL."
 
  THE COMMON STOCK OFFERED HEREBY INVOLVES A HIGH DEGREE OF RISK. SEE "RISK
FACTORS" COMMENCING ON PAGE 6 FOR A DISCUSSION OF CERTAIN FACTORS THAT SHOULD
BE CONSIDERED BY PROSPECTIVE PURCHASERS OF THE SHARES OF COMMON STOCK OFFERED
HEREBY.
 
                                  -----------
 
THESE  SECURITIES HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED  OR DISAPPROVED BY THE SECURITIES  AND
 EXCHANGE  COMMISSION   OR  ANY  STATE  SECURITIES  COMMISSION  NOR   HAS  THE
  SECURITIES  AND  EXCHANGE COMMISSION  OR  ANY STATE  SECURITIES  COMMISSION
   PASSED   UPON  THE  ACCURACY   OR  ADEQUACY   OF  THIS   PROSPECTUS.  ANY
    REPRESENTATION TO THE CONTRARY IS A CRIMINAL OFFENSE.
 
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                      Price               Proceeds   Proceeds to
                                        to   Underwriting    to        Selling
                                      Public  Discount(1) Company(2) Stockholder
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
<S>                                   <C>    <C>          <C>        <C>
Per Share............................  $         $           $           $
Total(3)............................. $         $           $           $
</TABLE>

- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(1) See "Underwriting" for information concerning indemnification of the
    Underwriters and other matters.
 
(2)Before deducting expenses payable by the Company estimated at $1,300,000.
 
(3) The Company has granted to the Underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up
    to 600,000 additional shares of Common Stock solely to cover over-
    allotments, if any. If the Underwriters exercise this option in full, the
    Price to Public will total $        , the Underwriting Discount will total
    $         and the Proceeds to Company will total $        . See
    "Underwriting."
 
  The shares of Common Stock are offered by the several Underwriters named
herein, subject to receipt and acceptance by them and subject to their right to
reject any order in whole or in part. It is expected that delivery of the
certificates representing such shares will be made against payment therefor at
the office of Montgomery Securities on or about           , 1997.
 
                                  -----------
 
MONTGOMERY SECURITIES
           COWEN & COMPANY
                                                   ROBERTSON, STEPHENS & COMPANY
 
                                        , 1997

<PAGE>
 
 
 
  The top half of this page contains a picture showing the first page of the
Company's Web site.
 
 
  The Company intends to distribute to its stockholders annual reports
containing financial statements audited by its independent accountants and
copies of quarterly earnings reports for the first three quarters of each
fiscal year containing unaudited financial information.
 
  Auto-By-Tel is a registered service mark of the Company. Auto-By-Tel, ABT
Mobilist and the Company's logo are trademarks of the Company. This Prospectus
also includes trademarks and tradenames of companies other than the Company.
 
  CERTAIN PERSONS PARTICIPATING IN THIS OFFERING MAY ENGAGE IN TRANSACTIONS
THAT STABILIZE, MAINTAIN, OR OTHERWISE AFFECT THE PRICE OF THE COMMON STOCK.
SPECIFICALLY, THE UNDERWRITERS MAY OVERALLOT IN CONNECTION WITH THE OFFERING,
AND MAY BID FOR, AND PURCHASE, SHARES OF THE COMMON STOCK IN THE OPEN MARKET.
FOR A DESCRIPTION OF THESE ACTIVITIES, SEE "UNDERWRITING."

<PAGE>
 
INSIDE FRONT COVER FOLD OUT
 
This page contains a series of six pictures depicting the steps to buying a
vehicle using the Auto-By-Tel program. The page is entitled "How Auto-By-Tel
Works." In the center of the six pictures is the caption: "The easiest, most
hassle-free way ever invented to buy a car."
 
Picture #1 depicts a consumer sitting at a terminal. The caption beneath
picture #1 reads: "At any time of day or night, Internet users can start their
vehicle purchasing process on the AUTO-BY-TEL World Wide Web site. No
salespeople, no crowds, no hassles."
 
Picture #2 depicts the Company's Web site. The caption beneath picture #2
reads: "The AUTO-BY-TEL home page is an easy interface for everyone to use."
 
Picture #3 depicts another page from the Company's Web site featuring
automobile information providers. The caption beneath picture #3 reads: "AUTO-
BY-TEL has arrangements with popular automotive information providers on the
World Wide Web. To date, hundreds of thousands of vehicle buyers have taken
AUTO-BY-TEL for a test drive." Above picture #3 are the logos of three of the
Company's automotive information providers.
 
Picture #4 depicts the form of purchase request from the Company's Web site.
The caption beneath picture #4 reads: "An AUTO-BY-TEL participating dealership
calls the customer (usually within 48 hours of a purchase request) with a low,
no haggle price. All paperwork is prepared before a customer arrives at the
participating dealership to pick up the vehicle."
 
Picture #5 depicts a map of the United States with Auto-By-Tel dealer
locations represented. The caption beneath picture #5 reads: "AUTO-BY-TEL has
hundreds of participating dealerships, including members of some of the
largest auto dealer groups in the U.S., waiting to serve customers."
 
Picture #6 depicts a consumer taking delivery of a vehicle. The caption
beneath picture #6 reads: "Prospective vehicle buyers indicate their desired
vehicle and options by completing an online purchase request. This is
delivered electronically to the AUTO-BY-TEL participating dealership closest
to the buyer."

<PAGE>
 
 
At any time of day or night, Internet users can start their vehicle purchasing
process on the AUTO-BY-TEL World Wide Web site. No salespeople, no crowds, no
hassles.
 
An AUTO-BY-TEL participating dealership calls the customer (usually within 48
hours of a purchase request) with a low, no haggle price. All paperwork is
prepared before a customer arrives at the participating dealership to pick up
the vehicle.
 
The AUTO-BY-TEL home page is an easy interface for everyone to use.
 
AUTO-BY-TEL has hundreds of participating dealerships, including members of
some of the largest auto dealer groups in the U.S., waiting to serve customers.
 
AUTO-BY-TEL has exclusive arrangements with popular automotive information
providers on the World Wide Web. To date, hundreds of thousands of vehicle
buyers have taken AUTO-BY-TEL for a test drive.
 
Prospective vehicle buyers indicate their desired vehicle and options by
completing an online purchase request. This is delivered electronically to the
AUTO-BY-TEL participating dealership closest to the buyer.
 
         "The easiest, most hassle-free way ever invented to buy a car"

<PAGE>
 
 

                               PROSPECTUS SUMMARY
 
  The following summary should be read in conjunction with, and is qualified in
its entirety by, the more detailed information, including "Risk Factors" and
the Consolidated Financial Statements and Notes thereto, appearing elsewhere in
this Prospectus. Except as otherwise noted or the context otherwise requires,
all information in this Prospectus (i) gives effect to a five-for-three split
of the Company's Common Stock approved by the Board of Directors on November
24, 1996, (ii) gives effect to the conversion of all outstanding shares of
Preferred Stock into 3,467,915 shares of Common Stock which will occur
automatically immediately prior to the closing of this Offering, (iii) assumes
no exercise of outstanding options to purchase 2,405,565 shares of the
Company's Common Stock under the Company's 1996 Stock Option Plan and 1996
Stock Incentive Plan, and (iv) assumes no exercise of the Underwriters' over-
allotment option. See "Management--Stock Plans," "Description of Capital Stock"
and "Underwriting."
 

                                  THE COMPANY
 
  Auto-By-Tel is establishing a nationally branded Internet-based marketing
service for new and used vehicle purchasing and related consumer services. The
Company's Web site (www.autobytel.com) enables consumers to gather valuable
information about automobiles and light duty trucks ("vehicles") and shop for
vehicles and related consumer services from the convenience of their home or
office. This convenience, coupled with low, haggle-free pricing and quick and
courteous service, improves consumers' overall buying experiences. The
Company's Internet-based alternative to traditional vehicle retailing
dramatically reduces participating dealerships' selling costs per vehicle and
increases sales volumes by channeling a large number of ready-to-buy, well-
informed consumers to Auto-By-Tel participating dealerships. The Company's
Internet-based services are free to consumers and, to date, the Company has
derived substantially all of its revenues from fees paid by subscribing
dealerships. See "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition
and Results of Operations--Overview" and "Business--Overview."
 
  Consumers wishing to purchase new vehicles through the Company's service
complete a purchase request available on the Company's and its partners' Web
sites which specifies the type of vehicle and accessories desired along with
the consumer's phone number, e-mail address and zip code. The purchase request
is then forwarded to the Auto-By-Tel participating dealership located in the
consumer's geographic area. Typically, consumers are contacted by Auto-By-Tel
dealers within 48 hours with a firm, competitive quote for the vehicle,
eliminating the unwelcome and time consuming task of negotiating with the
dealer and thus facilitating completion of the sale. As of December 31, 1996
the Company's dealership base consisted of (i) 1,206 paying franchises of
dealerships, (ii) 509 non-paying franchises affiliated with paying dealerships
(collectively, "subscribing dealerships") and (iii) approximately 230 "trial
dealers." From the commencement of operations in March 1995 to December 31,
1996, the Company received more than 385,000 new vehicle purchase requests. See
"Business--Overview," "--Products and Services" and "--Dealer Network and
Training."
 
  The emergence of the Internet as a significant communications medium is
driving the development and adoption of Web content and commerce applications
that offer convenience and value to consumers, as well as unique marketing
opportunities and reduced operating costs to businesses. A growing number of
consumers have begun to transact business electronically, including paying
bills, booking airline tickets, trading securities and purchasing consumer
goods, such as personal computers, consumer electronics, compact disks, books
and vehicles. Moreover, online transactions can be faster, less expensive and
more convenient than transactions conducted through a human intermediary. In
addition, Web commerce applications enable businesses to rapidly target and
economically manage a broad customer base and establish and maintain ongoing
direct customer relationships. International Data Corporation ("IDC") estimates
that the dollar value of goods and services purchased over the Web will
increase from approximately $318 million in 1995 to $95 billion in the year
2000. The Auto-By-Tel vehicle marketing service seeks to utilize the unique
marketing capabilities of the Web to address the $660 billion annual U.S. new
and used vehicle market. See "Business--Industry Background."
 
  To create higher levels of consumer satisfaction, the Company focuses on
improving the manner in which dealers interact with consumers. Auto-By-Tel
seeks to establish business relationships with dealerships which share the
Company's commitment to improving customer service in the vehicle retailing
industry. To meet this
 
                                       3

<PAGE>
 
goal, the Company requests that participating dealerships have their
representatives trained in the Auto-By-Tel marketing program, dedicate
electronic and human resources to the Auto-By-Tel system and comply with the
Auto-By-Tel guidelines of rapid consumer response, full disclosure, and
competitive and up-front pricing communicated over telephone. See "Business--
Dealership Network and Training."
 
  An important aspect of the Company's strategy is to strengthen the Auto-By-
Tel brand name, as a means of driving consumer traffic to the Company's Web
site and thereby increasing the volume of vehicle purchase requests. In
addition to marketing its services through relationships with Internet content
providers and advertising on Internet search engines and other online services,
the Company is expanding its marketing efforts through traditional print media
and on network television. The Company intends to capitalize on the increasing
visibility of the Auto-By-Tel brand name as a nationally recognized Internet-
based marketing service for new vehicles by offering additional services such
as online used vehicle purchasing, and vehicle financing, leasing and insurance
services. Auto-By-Tel is currently developing a used vehicle purchasing program
for its network of new vehicle dealerships. The Company has an agreement
whereby certain member companies of American International Group ("AIG"), one
of the largest international insurance organizations, will offer to provide
personal automobile vehicle insurance through the Company's Web site. The
Company also has an agreement with Chase Manhattan Automotive Finance
Corporation ("Chase Manhattan") under which Chase Manhattan, together with its
affiliates, will receive credit applications for new vehicle financing online
via the Company's Web site from Auto-By-Tel's consumers. This arrangement with
Chase Manhattan is intended for prime credit consumers and the Company is
currently negotiating similar relationships with several leading financial
institutions to offer new and used vehicle leasing services and new and used
vehicle financing to sub-prime credit consumers. See "Business--The Auto-By-
Tel--Strategy" and "--Marketing and Sales."
 
  Auto-By-Tel LLC was formed in January 1995 and began operations in March
1995. In July 1995, it introduced its Web site. Effective as of May 31, 1996,
the interests of the members of Auto-By-Tel LLC and ABT Acceptance Company LLC,
an affiliate, were transferred to the Company in a tax free transaction. The
address of the Company's principal executive offices is 18872 MacArthur
Boulevard, Suite 200, Irvine, California 92612-1400, and the Company's
telephone and fax numbers are (714) 225-4500 and (714) 225-4562, respectively.
The Company's home page is located on the World Wide Web at
http://www.autobytel.com. Information contained on the Company's Web site or
online services does not constitute part of this Prospectus.
 
                                  THE OFFERING
 

<TABLE>
<S>                                   <C>
Common Stock offered by the Company.. 3,600,000 shares
Common Stock offered by the Selling
 Stockholder......................... 400,000 shares
Common Stock to be outstanding after
 the Offering........................ 19,495,136 shares(1)
Use of proceeds...................... For working capital and general corporate
                                      purposes
Proposed Nasdaq National Market
 symbol.............................. ABTL
</TABLE>

 

                                  RISK FACTORS
 
  An investment in the Common Stock offered hereby involves a high degree of
risk. Prospective investors should consider carefully the certain factors
described in "Risk Factors," including those set forth under the headings:
"Limited Operating History and Accumulated Deficit;" "Potential Fluctuations in
Quarterly Results;" "Potential Seasonality and Changes in General Economic
Conditions;" "Fluctuations Resulting From the Introduction of New Services by
the Company or Competitors;" "Regulatory Uncertainties and Government
Regulation;" "Dependence on Automotive Information Providers;" "Requirement to
Strengthen the Auto-By-Tel Brand Name;" "High Cost of Advertising and
Marketing;" "Competition;" "Dependence on Dealership Network; Resistance to
Written Agreements;" "Failure of Participating Dealerships to Adhere to Auto-
By-Tel Sales Practices;" "Rapid Technological Change and System Disruptions;"
"Potential Security Breaches;" "Risks Associated with Introduction of New
Service Offerings;" "Dependence on Third Parties for New Services;" and
"Uncertain Acceptance of Internet-based Marketing Services."
 
                                       4

<PAGE>
 
 
         SUMMARY CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL AND SUPPLEMENTAL OPERATING DATA
    (IN THOUSANDS, EXCEPT SHARE, PER SHARE AND SUPPLEMENTAL OPERATING DATA)
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                          JANUARY 31, 1995                  THREE MONTHS ENDED
                         (DATE OF INCEPTION) --------------------------------------------------  YEAR ENDED
                           TO DECEMBER 31,   MARCH 31,    JUNE 30,   SEPTEMBER 30, DECEMBER 31,  DECEMBER 31,
                                1995            1996        1996         1996          1996         1996
                         ------------------- ----------  ----------  ------------- ------------ -------------
<S>                      <C>                 <C>         <C>         <C>           <C>          <C>
STATEMENT OF OPERATIONS
 DATA:
Revenues................     $      274      $      436  $      952   $    1,434    $    2,203   $    5,025
                             ----------      ----------  ----------   ----------    ----------   ----------
Operating expenses:
 Marketing and
  advertising...........            476             475         678        1,247         2,039        4,439
 Selling, training and
  support...............            454             362         563          851         1,417        3,193
 Technology development.             99              67          78          294           954        1,393
 General and
  administrative........            275             134         258          740         1,027        2,159
                             ----------      ----------  ----------   ----------    ----------   ----------
    Total operating
     expenses...........          1,304           1,038       1,577        3,132         5,437       11,184
                             ----------      ----------  ----------   ----------    ----------   ----------
Loss from operations....         (1,030)           (602)       (625)      (1,698)       (3,234)      (6,159)
Other income (expense),
 net....................            --              --           (6)          22           108          124
                             ----------      ----------  ----------   ----------    ----------   ----------
Net loss................         (1,030)           (602)       (631)      (1,676)       (3,126)      (6,035)
                             ==========      ==========  ==========   ==========    ==========   ==========
Net loss per common and
 common equivalent
 share(2)...............     $     (.07)     $     (.04) $     (.04)  $     (.11)   $     (.19)  $     (.38)
                             ==========      ==========  ==========   ==========    ==========   ==========
Weighted average common
 and common equivalent
 shares outstanding(2)..     15,262,262      15,262,262  15,262,262   15,892,576    16,761,962   15,792,293
SUPPLEMENTAL OPERATING
 DATA:
Purchase requests
 received...............         42,600          44,900      73,700      102,700       123,700      345,000
Paying franchises of
 subscribing
 dealerships............            253             546         728          978         1,206        1,206
</TABLE>

 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                           DECEMBER 31, 1996
                                                        ------------------------
                                                                    PRO FORMA
                                                        ACTUAL   AS ADJUSTED (3)
                                                        -------  ---------------
<S>                                                     <C>      <C>
BALANCE SHEET DATA:
Cash and cash equivalents.............................. $ 9,062      $51,129
Working capital........................................   5,960       48,027
Total assets...........................................  12,298       54,365
Total liabilities......................................   4,302        4,302
Accumulated deficit....................................  (7,065)      (7,065)
Stockholders' equity...................................   7,996       50,063
</TABLE>

- --------
(1) Based on 15,895,136 shares of Common Stock outstanding on a pro forma basis
    as of January 31, 1997. Excludes 2,405,565 shares of Common Stock issuable
    upon exercise of outstanding options as of January 31, 1997, at a weighted
    average exercise price of $2.55 per share. Assumes no exercise of the
    Underwriters' over-allotment option.
 
(2) See Note 1.o of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for an
    explanation of the determination of shares used in computing net loss per
    share.
 
(3) Adjusted to reflect (i) the sale of 967,915 shares of Series B Preferred
    Stock on January 30, 1997 at a price of $9.35 per share and (ii) the
    conversion of all outstanding shares of Preferred Stock immediately prior
    to the closing of the Offering and (iii) the receipt by the Company of the
    estimated net proceeds of $33.0 million from the sale of 3,600,000 shares
    of Common Stock offered hereby at an assumed initial public offering price
    of $10.25 per share. See "Use of Proceeds."
 
                                       5

<PAGE>
 

                                 RISK FACTORS
 
  An investment in the Common Stock offered hereby involves a high degree of
risk. In addition to the other information in this Prospectus, the following
risk factors should be carefully considered in evaluating the Company and its
business before purchasing the shares of Common Stock offered hereby. This
Prospectus contains certain forward-looking statements based on current
expectations which involve risks and uncertainties. Actual results and the
timing of certain events may differ materially from those projected in such
forward-looking statements due to a number of factors, including those set
forth below.
 
LIMITED OPERATING HISTORY AND ACCUMULATED DEFICIT
 
  The Company was formed in January 1995 and introduced its vehicle marketing
program for new vehicle dealerships over Prodigy in March 1995 and over the
Internet in July 1995. The Company first recognized revenues from operations
in March 1995. Accordingly, the Company has only a limited operating history
upon which an evaluation of the Company and its prospects can be based, and
this limited operating history makes the prediction of future operating
results difficult or impossible. In addition, the Company believes that, in
order to achieve its objectives, it will need to significantly increase
revenues from existing services and generate revenues from new services, such
as its used vehicle buying service and its vehicle financing and insurance
policy referral services. There can be no assurance that the Company will
successfully introduce or generate sufficient revenues from such services. The
Company had an accumulated deficit as of December 31, 1996 of $7.1 million. In
addition, the Company expects to incur operating losses in future periods. The
Company's prospects must be considered in light of the risks, uncertainties,
expenses and difficulties frequently encountered by companies in the early
stages of development, particularly companies in new and rapidly evolving
markets, such as the market for Internet commerce. To address these risks, the
Company must, among other things, continue to send vehicle purchase requests
to dealers that result in sales in sufficient numbers to support the marketing
fees charged by the Company to its subscribing dealerships, respond to
competitive developments, increase its brand name visibility, successfully
introduce new services, continue to attract, retain and motivate qualified
personnel, and continue to upgrade and enhance its technologies to accommodate
expanded service offerings and increased consumer traffic. There can be no
assurance that the Company will be successful in addressing such risks. In
addition, although the Company has experienced revenue growth in recent
periods, historical growth rates are not sustainable and are not indicative of
future operating results, and there can be no assurance that the Company will
achieve or maintain profitability. See "Management's Discussion and Analysis
of Financial Condition and Results of Operations."
 
POTENTIAL FLUCTUATIONS IN QUARTERLY RESULTS
 
  As a result of the Company's limited operating history, the Company lacks
sufficient historical financial and operating data on which to adequately base
future operating results. The Company's costs are based, in part, on fees paid
to companies that maintain Web sites which allow consumers to submit purchase
requests. Agreements with such companies generally have fixed terms ranging
from one to five years, although certain of these agreements are terminable on
short notice. Under such agreements, fees may be fixed or may vary depending
on the number of purchase requests submitted through other companies' Web
sites, or may be a combination thereof. Accordingly, increases in the number
of purchase requests received will increase the Company's operating costs,
which may not result in increased revenues to the Company. In addition, the
Company incurs significant expenses to market its services on other Web sites
and online services. Such expenses are generally fixed and are paid pursuant
to marketing agreements which have terms of up to one year. The Company's
expense levels are based in part on its expectations as to future revenues,
which may vary in relation to increases or decreases in the number of
dealerships that subscribe to the Company's marketing programs. Currently,
less than half of subscribing dealerships are subject to written marketing
agreements and these subscribing dealerships may cancel their agreements with
30 days' prior notice. As a result, quarterly revenues and operating results
may vary significantly in response to any significant change in the number of
subscribing dealerships. The Company's inability to adjust spending in a
timely manner to compensate for any unexpected revenue shortfall would have a
material adverse effect on the Company's business, results of operations and
 
                                       6

<PAGE>
 
financial condition. In addition, the Company anticipates significant
increases in expenses as a result of planned increases in its marketing and
advertising programs, development of affiliate programs relating to vehicle
insurance and financing, and the introduction of a used vehicle marketing
service. To the extent that such expenses exceed, precede or are not
subsequently followed by increased revenues, the Company's business, results
of operations and financial condition will be materially adversely affected.
See "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results
of Operations."
 
POTENTIAL SEASONALITY AND CHANGES IN GENERAL ECONOMIC CONDITIONS
 
  Significant fluctuations in future quarterly operating results may also be
caused by traditional seasonality in the automotive and light duty truck
markets and other changes in general economic conditions, which may result in
fluctuations in the level of purchase requests completed by consumers or
adversely affect demand for the Company's existing and planned services. As a
result of the Company's limited operating history and the significant growth
in operations since inception, the Company has not to date experienced
significant seasonality in its business. However, the automotive and light
truck markets historically experience weakest sales in the fourth calendar
quarter. In addition, unit sales of motor vehicles, particularly new vehicles,
historically have been cyclical, fluctuating with general economic cycles.
During economic downturns, the automotive retailing industry tends to
experience similar periods of decline and recession as the general economy.
The Company believes that the automotive and light truck industry is
influenced by general economic conditions and particularly by consumer
confidence, the level of personal discretionary spending, interest rates and
credit availability. There can be no assurance that the automotive and light
truck industry will not experience sustained periods of decline in vehicle
sales in the future. Such a decline could have a material adverse effect on
the Company. See "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition
and Results of Operations."
 
FLUCTUATIONS RESULTING FROM THE INTRODUCTION OF NEW SERVICES BY THE COMPANY OR
COMPETITORS
 
  The introduction by the Company of new services or the introduction of new
services by the Company's competitors may also result in significant
fluctuations in quarterly operating results. In addition, as a strategic
response to changes in the competitive environment, the Company may from time
to time make certain pricing or marketing decisions or establish strategic
relationships that could have a material adverse effect on the Company's
business, results of operations or financial condition. In particular, the
Company may need to revise the marketing fees it charges to subscribing
dealerships. There can be no assurance that subscribing dealerships will
continue to participate in the Company's marketing programs or agree to future
fee increases. In addition, there can be no assurance that marketing fees
derived from subscribing dealerships will be sufficient to cover the Company's
expenses. The foregoing factors make it likely that in some future quarters
the Company's operating results will be below the expectations of the Company,
securities analysts or investors. In such event, the trading price of the
Common Stock would likely be materially and adversely affected. See
"Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of
Operations."
 
REGULATORY UNCERTAINTIES AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION
 
  The Company believes that its dealer marketing service does not qualify as a
brokerage activity and, therefore, that the Company does not need to comply
with state broker licensing requirements. In Texas, however, the Company was
required to modify its marketing program to include a pricing model under
which subscribing dealerships are charged uniform fees based on the population
density of their particular geographic area and to make its program open to
all dealerships who wish to apply. In the event that individual state
regulatory requirements change or additional requirements are imposed on the
Company, the Company may be required to modify its marketing programs in such
states in a manner which may undermine the program's attractiveness to
consumers or dealers. In addition, in the event that a state deems that the
Company is acting as a broker, the Company may be required to comply with
burdensome licensing requirements of such state or terminate operations in
such state. In each case, the Company's business, results of operations or
financial condition could be materially and adversely affected.
 
                                       7

<PAGE>
 
  The Company's marketing service may result in changes in the way new and
used vehicles are sold which may be deemed to be threatening by new and used
vehicle dealerships which do not subscribe to the Auto-By-Tel program. Such
businesses are often represented by influential lobbying organizations, and
such organizations may seek to introduce legislation which may impact the
evolving marketing and distribution model which the Company's service
promotes. Should legislative or legal challenges be brought successfully by
such organizations, the Company's business, results of operations or financial
condition could be materially and adversely affected.
 
  As the Company introduces new services, the Company may need to comply with
additional licensing regulations and regulatory requirements. For example, the
Company recently obtained an insurance brokerage license in California and has
begun procuring insurance brokerage licenses in other states to ensure
compliance with applicable insurance regulations, if any, of such states. In
addition, the Company is currently in the process of applying for financial
brokers' licenses in those states in which the Company believes such licenses
are required. Becoming licensed may be an expensive and time-consuming process
which could divert the efforts of management. In the event that the Company
does not successfully become licensed under applicable state insurance or
lending rules or otherwise comply with regulations necessitated by changes in
current regulations or the introduction of new services, the Company's
business, results of operations or financial condition could be materially and
adversely affected.
 
  Additionally, there are currently few laws or regulations directly
applicable to access to or commerce on the Internet. However, due to the
increasing popularity and use of the Internet, it is likely that a number of
laws and regulations may be adopted at the local, state, national or
international levels with respect to commerce over the Internet, potentially
covering issues such as pricing of services and products, advertising, user
privacy and expression, intellectual property, information security, anti-
competitive practices or the convergence of traditional distribution channels
with Internet commerce. In addition, tax authorities in a number of states are
currently reviewing the appropriate tax treatment of companies engaged in
Internet commerce. New state tax regulations may subject the Company to
additional state sales and income taxes. The adoption of any such laws or
regulations may decrease the growth of Internet usage or the acceptance of
Internet commerce which could, in turn, decrease the demand for the Company's
services and increase the Company's costs or otherwise have a material adverse
effect on the Company's business, results of operations or financial
condition. See "Business--Government Regulation."
 
DEPENDENCE ON AUTOMOTIVE INFORMATION PROVIDERS
 
  The Company receives a significant number of purchase requests from certain
automotive information providers, including Edmund's, Microsoft CarPoint and
AutoSite. The Company's agreements with automotive information providers
typically have terms ranging from one to three years, but some are cancellable
with 30 days notice. Under the agreements, Auto-By-Tel typically pays the
automotive information provider a monthly fee based on the number of users who
submit Auto-By-Tel purchase requests. In 1996, the Company incurred expenses
to automotive information providers of approximately $630,000. The termination
of any of these relationships, or any significant reduction in traffic to the
Web sites on which the Company's services are advertised or offered, could
have a material adverse effect on the Company's business, results of
operations or financial condition.
 
  The Company has established a relationship with Edmund's, a leading source
of online automobile and light truck price and model information. Consumers
are sometimes referred to Auto-By-Tel from Edmund's. At other times, consumers
will begin at the Auto-By-Tel Web site and will be hyperlinked to the Edmund's
Web site to obtain price and model information, before returning to Auto-By-
Tel to submit a purchase request. The Company pays Edmund's a fee based on the
aggregate number of referred and returning consumers submitting a purchase
request. In 1996, approximately 170,000 consumers who eventually submitted
purchase requests with Auto-By-Tel either were referred to the Company's Web
site from Edmund's, or went to the Edmund's site and then returned to Auto-By-
Tel. While the Company expects the number of referrals and returning consumers
from the Edmund's Web site to remain significant, the percentage of consumers
entering from or visiting Edmund's during an Auto-By-Tel session has decreased
in the past several months due to (i) the availability of other automobile
 
                                       8

<PAGE>
 
information Web sites, (ii) Auto-By-Tel's new practice of referring consumers
to an alternate automobile information provider, and (iii) the Company's
marketing efforts to encourage consumers to begin their automobile purchasing
sessions at the Company's Web site. Nevertheless, given the current level of
consumers accessing the Company from Edmund's, a change or termination in the
Edmund's arrangement could have a material adverse effect on the Company's
business, results of operations and financial condition. See "Management's
Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,"
"Business--Strategy" and "--Marketing and Sales."
 
REQUIREMENT TO STRENGTHEN THE AUTO-BY-TEL BRAND NAME
 
  The Company believes that enhancing its national brand name recognition is
critical to its efforts to maintain and increase the number of purchase
requests and subscribing dealerships. The growing number of Web sites which
offer competing services and the relatively low barriers to entry in providing
Internet services increase the importance of establishing and maintaining
brand name recognition. In order to achieve this objective, the Company will
need to continue to maintain high quality services and incur considerable
costs to enhance and expand brand name recognition and improve its competitive
position. Much of the Company's advertising is placed on Web sites maintained
by (i) online service providers (like America Online's Digital Cities,
CompuServe and Prodigy which offer proprietary online content to their
subscribers, as well as Internet access) and (ii) search engine companies
(like Excite, Magellan and Webcrawler which allow Internet users to navigate
the Internet by searching for key words or topics of interest). Advertising
agreements with these online service providers and search engine companies are
generally short-term contracts or are otherwise cancelable on short notice.
Payments under none of these agreements have been material to date. While no
single online or search engine company has individually accounted for material
leads to the Company, these companies as a group are a material source of
Internet referrals to the Auto-By-Tel Web site and the Company believes an
inability to continue advertising on online service provider or search engine
web sites would adversely affect the Company. There can be no assurance that
such online service providers or search engine companies will not cancel such
contracts, or that competitors will not be able to displace Auto-By-Tel from
its preferred advertising arrangements with such companies. See "Business--
Strategy" and "--Marketing and Sales." In addition, the Company receives a
significant number of Internet referrals from automotive information
providers, such as Edmund's and Microsoft CarPoint. See "Dependence on
Automotive Information Providers."
 
HIGH COST OF ADVERTISING AND MARKETING
 
  The intense competition in the sale of Internet advertising with online
service providers and search engine companies, including competition from
other vehicle marketing services, has resulted in a wide range of rates quoted
by different vendors for a variety of advertising services. This makes it very
difficult to project future levels of Internet advertising costs and
availability of prime advertising space. The Company has also entered into
agreements with automotive information services, such as Edmund's and
Microsoft CarPoint, to display the Company's services on their Web sites.
These agreements require the Company to pay such entities a fee for each user
who completes an Auto-By-Tel purchase request. Accordingly, any increase in
the volume of purchase requests received from these sites will result in
increased advertising costs with no assurance of a corresponding increase in
revenues to the Company. The Company is also incurring significant expenses to
increase awareness of its nationally branded Internet-based marketing services
in print and television media. The Company expects these expenses to increase
significantly, particularly in the first half of 1997. There can be no
assurance that the Company's efforts to brand the Auto-By-Tel name will be
successful or that advertising on the Internet, on television or in other
media will attract consumers to the Company's Web site, or that existing
marketing or advertising sources will continue to be available on commercially
reasonable terms, or at all. See "Dependence on Automotive Information
Providers" and "Requirement to Strengthen the Auto-By-Tel Brand Name,"
"Business--Strategy" and "--Sales and Marketing."
 
COMPETITION
 
  The Company's vehicle buying services compete against a variety of Internet
and traditional vehicle buying services and automobile brokers. In the
Internet-based market, the Company competes for attention with other
 
                                       9

<PAGE>
 
entities which maintain similar commercial Web sites. The Company also
competes indirectly against automobile brokerage firms and affinity programs
offered by several companies, including Price Costco and Wal-Mart. Like the
Company's services, the services offered by competing Web sites, vehicle
brokerage firms and affinity programs seek to increase consumer satisfaction
and reduce vehicle purchasing costs.
 
  Although the Company does not currently compete directly with vehicle
dealers and manufacturers, such competition would arise in the future if
dealers and manufacturers introduced competing Web sites or developed
cooperative relationships among themselves or with online vehicle information
providers. Moreover, the Company's ability to achieve its objectives would be
adversely affected if dealers and manufacturers adopted a low cost, firm price
sales model similar to that facilitated by the Auto-By-Tel program.
 
  The market for Internet-based commercial services is new and competition
among commercial Web sites is expected to increase significantly in the
future. The Internet is characterized by minimal barriers to entry, and
current and new competitors can launch new Web sites at relatively low cost.
Potential competitors could include, but are not limited to, automotive
information service providers, manufacturers and new and used vehicle dealers.
In order to compete successfully as an Internet commercial entity, the Company
must significantly increase awareness of the Company and its brand name,
effectively market its services and successfully differentiate its Web site.
Many of the Company's current and potential competitors have longer operating
histories, greater name recognition and significantly greater financial and
marketing resources than the Company. Such competitors could undertake more
aggressive and costly marketing campaigns than the Company which may adversely
affect the Company's marketing strategies which could have a material adverse
effect on the Company's business, results of operations or financial
condition.
 
  In addition, as the Company introduces new services, it will compete
directly with a greater number of companies, including vehicle insurers and
lenders as well as used vehicle superstores, such as CarMax and Auto Nation.
Such companies may already maintain or may introduce Web sites which compete
with that of the Company. There can be no assurance that the Company can
continue to compete successfully against current or future competitors nor can
there be any assurance that competitive pressures faced by the Company will
not result in increased marketing costs, decreased Internet traffic or loss of
market share or otherwise will not materially adversely affect its business,
results of operations and financial condition. See "Business--Strategy" and
"--Competition."
 
DEPENDENCE ON DEALERSHIP NETWORK; RESISTANCE TO WRITTEN AGREEMENTS
 
  To date, substantially all of the Company's revenues have been derived from
fees paid by subscribing dealerships. Currently, less than half of subscribing
dealerships have entered into written marketing agreements with the Company,
and such agreements are cancelable at the option of either party with 30 days'
notice. Accordingly, subscribing dealers may terminate their affiliation with
the Company for any reason, including an unwillingness to accept the Company's
subscription terms or to join other marketing programs. Some of the Company's
dealers have resisted signing written agreements. As of March 11, 1997,
approximately 48% and 26% of all subscribing dealerships had signed a revised
marketing agreement and a financing agreement, respectively. Among the reasons
cited by dealerships in resisting entering into written agreements are: (i)
the exclusivity provision of the revised form of marketing agreement which
requires that dealerships not participate in any other Internet-based or
online program with attributes similar to those of the Auto-By-Tel program,
(ii) the indemnification provisions which require dealerships to indemnify
Auto-By-Tel under certain circumstances, (iii) concerns by dealerships that by
signing a written agreement they will surrender control of the rates they will
be charged by Auto-By-Tel, and (iv) concerns over the California choice of law
and venue provisions in the agreement.
 
  There can be no assurance that the Company will be able to convince all of
its subscribing dealerships to enter into written agreements with the Company
or revise existing agreements or that the Company's efforts to cause
subscribing dealerships to revise their agreements will not result in
subscribing dealerships terminating their relationship with Auto-By-Tel. In
addition, should the volume of purchase requests increase, the Company
 
                                      10

<PAGE>
 
anticipates that it will need to reduce the size of the exclusive territories
currently allocated to dealerships in order to serve consumers more
effectively. Dealerships may be unwilling to accept reductions in the size of
their territories and may, therefore, terminate their Auto-By-Tel
relationship, refuse to execute formal agreements with the Company or decide
not to join the Company's marketing programs. A material decrease in the
number of subscribing dealerships, or slower than expected growth in the
number of subscribing dealerships, could have a material adverse effect on the
Company's business, results of operations or financial condition. The Company
may also become unable to refer an adequate number of consumers to
participating dealerships. There can be no assurance that the Company will be
able to continue to attract additional dealerships and retain existing
dealerships. See "Business--Strategy" and "--Dealership Network and Training."
 
FAILURE OF PARTICIPATING DEALERSHIPS TO ADHERE TO AUTO-BY-TEL SALES PRACTICES
 
  The success of the Company's business strategy depends on its participating
dealerships' adherence to the Company's consumer oriented sales practices. The
Company devotes significant efforts to train participating dealerships in such
practices which are intended to increase consumer satisfaction. The Company's
inability to train dealerships effectively, or the failure by participating
dealerships to adopt such practices, respond rapidly and professionally to
vehicle purchase requests, or sell vehicles in accordance with the Company's
marketing strategies, could result in low consumer satisfaction, damage the
Company's brand name and materially adversely affect the Company's business,
results of operations or financial condition. See "Management's Discussion and
Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operation" and "Business--
Strategy" and "--Dealership Network and Training."
 
RAPID TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE AND SYSTEM DISRUPTIONS
 
  The Internet is characterized by rapidly changing technology. The Company
believes that its future success is significantly dependent on its ability to
continuously improve the speed and reliability of its Web site, enhance
communications functionality with its consumers and dealers and maintain the
highest-level of information privacy and ensure transactional security. The
Company recently migrated its Web site platform to a more robust enterprise
network (a large communications and data exchange system created by physically
connecting telephone lines or other communication media to link computers
separated by thousands of miles), internalized all Web server hosting
functions and, to accelerate connectivity, has installed higher bandwidth
telecommunications lines, consisting of two 1.54 Mbps (millions of bits per
second) T-1 lines for outbound traffic and a 6 Mbps fractional DS/3 line (a
very high bandwidth telephone trunk line capable of transferring 44.21 Mbps)
for inbound traffic. The Company has also recently upgraded its routers (for
faster data transmission routing through its computer network) and has
installed firewall technology (security software and hardware placed between
the Company's private network and the Internet to prevent corruption of the
private network). System enhancements entail the implementation of
sophisticated new technology and system processes and there can be no
assurance that such continuous enhancements may not result in unanticipated
system disruptions. For example, since April 1, 1996, the Company has
experienced three periods of system downtime (with an average downtime of
approximately three hours) due to power loss and telecommunications failures,
and there can be no assurance that future interruptions will not recur.
Although the Company maintains redundant local offsite backup servers, all of
the Company's primary servers are located at its corporate headquarters and
are vulnerable to interruption by damage from fire, earthquake, power loss,
telecommunications failure and other events beyond the Company's control. The
Company is in the process of developing comprehensive out-of-state disaster
recovery plans to safeguard dealer and consumer information. The Company's
business interruption insurance may not be sufficient to compensate the
Company for all losses that may occur. In the event that the Company
experiences significant system disruptions, the Company's business, results of
operations or financial condition could be materially and adversely affected.
See "Business--Operations and Technology; Facilities."
 
  In addition, the Company is currently in the process of completing a
conversion to a redundant client/server (a network of multiple computers
consisting of end user or "client" computers connected to controlling or
"server" computers) SQL database (an organized collection of data) platform
which involves the integration of several different internal databases used to
handle the Company's consumer and dealer information and
 
                                      11

<PAGE>
 
transmission requirements, as well as the Company's financial, accounting and
record-keeping requirements. No assurance can be given that the implementation
of this new platform will not result in disruptions to the Company's business,
such as the loss of data, errors in purchase request transmissions, delays in
the Company's ability to effect periodic closings of its accounting records
and other similar problems. Any such disruptions or any failure to
successfully implement this new information system in a timely manner could
have a material adverse effect on the Company's business, results of
operations or financial condition. See "Business--Operations and Technology;
Facilities."
 
POTENTIAL SECURITY BREACHES
 
  The Company's services may be vulnerable to break-ins and similar disruptive
problems caused by Internet users. Further, weaknesses in the Internet may
compromise the security of confidential electronic information exchanged
across the Internet. This includes, but is not limited to, the security of the
physical network and the security of the physical machines used for the
information transfer. Any such flaws in the Internet, the end-user
environment, or weaknesses or vulnerabilities in the Company's services or the
licensed technology incorporated in such services could jeopardize the
confidential nature of information transmitted over the Internet and could
require the Company to expend significant financial and human resources to
protect against future breaches, if any, and alleviate or mitigate problems
caused by such security breaches. Concerns over the security of Internet
transactions and the privacy of users may also inhibit the growth of the
Internet generally, particularly as a means of conducting commercial
transactions. To the extent that activities of the Company, or third party
contractors, involve the storage and transmission of proprietary information
(such as personal financial information or credit card numbers), security
breaches could expose the Company to a risk of financial loss, litigation and
other liabilities. The Company does not currently maintain insurance to
protect against such losses. Any such occurrence could reduce consumer
satisfaction in the Company's services and could have a material adverse
effect on the Company's business, results of operations or financial
condition. See "Business--Operations and Technology; Facilities."
 
RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH INTRODUCTION OF NEW SERVICE OFFERINGS
 
  In order to generate additional revenues, to attract more consumers to its
Web site and dealerships to its programs and remain competitive, the Company
must successfully develop, market and introduce new services. The Company
believes that to achieve its objectives it will need to generate a substantial
portion of its future revenues from new services. The Company recently
introduced an Internet-based insurance service with certain member companies
of American International Group ("AIG"), one of the largest international
insurance organizations. Consumers can currently link to the specific Web site
for such AIG member companies to submit requests for quotes and, when the
service is fully implemented, will be able to receive real-time, online
quotes. The Company also recently entered into an agreement with Chase
Manhattan Automotive Finance Corporation ("Chase Manhattan") under which Chase
Manhattan, together with its affiliates, will receive credit applications for
new vehicle financing who access Auto-By-Tel's Web Site. The agreement with
Chase Manhattan has a term of three years but may be terminated sooner by
Chase Manhattan with six months' notice or in the event Auto-By-Tel fails to
refer to Chase Manhattan a prescribed percentage of loan application requests
submitted through the Auto-By-Tel Web site, or the referred loan applications
do not result in a prescribed percentage of loans generated by Chase
Manhattan, or Auto-By-Tel otherwise breaches the agreement.
 
  In addition, the Company is developing client/server database applications
and user interfaces which will enable the Company to provide consumers access
to vehicles currently listed by dealerships who participate in the Company's
used vehicle program. None of these new services has been fully developed and,
in some cases, their introduction has recently been delayed due to
difficulties encountered by the Company's partners in developing their
software systems. There can be no assurance that the Company will successfully
develop or introduce these new services, that such services will achieve
market acceptance or that subscribing dealerships will not view such new
services as competitive to services already offered by such dealerships. For
example, consumers may be reticent to purchase vehicle insurance or procure
vehicle financing online. Also, it may be
 
                                      12

<PAGE>
 
more difficult to educate consumers as to the value of locating used vehicles
for purchase through the Internet since used vehicle purchases are generally
thought to require a greater level of hands-on involvement. The Company
expects to incur additional expenses to develop and successfully market such
services. To the extent that revenues generated by such additional services
are insufficient to cover increased expenses, the Company's operating results
would be adversely affected. Should the Company fail to develop and
successfully market these services, or should competitors successfully
introduce competing services, the Company's business, results of operations
and financial condition may be materially and adversely affected. See
"Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of
Operation" and "Business--Products and Services."
 
DEPENDENCE ON THIRD PARTIES FOR NEW SERVICES
 
  As a part of its overall strategy, the Company plans to develop new services
by entering into alliances with other companies engaged in complementary
businesses, such as vehicle financing and leasing, and insurance providers.
For example, the Company recently entered into agreements with Chase Manhattan
to provide vehicle financing and AIG to provide vehicle insurance services to
its consumers. Strategic relationships involve numerous risks, including
difficulties in the introduction and marketing of new services, diversion of
management's attention from other business requirements, and the risks of
entering markets in which the Company has no or limited direct prior
experience and where competitors in such markets have stronger market
positions. There can be no assurance that the Company would be successful in
overcoming these risks or any other problems encountered in connection with
such strategic alliances or that such transactions will not adversely affect
the Company's business, results of operations and financial condition. See
"Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of
Operation" and "Business--Strategy" and "--Products and Services."
 
UNCERTAIN ACCEPTANCE OF INTERNET-BASED MARKETING SERVICES
 
  The market for the Company's Internet-based marketing service has only
recently begun to develop and is rapidly evolving. As is typical for a new and
rapidly evolving industry, demand and market acceptance for recently
introduced services and products over the Internet are subject to a high level
of uncertainty and there exist few proven services and products. Moreover,
since the market for the Company's services is new and evolving, it is
difficult to predict the future growth rate, if any, and size of this market.
 
  The success of the Company's service will depend upon the adoption of the
Internet by consumers and dealers as a mainstream medium for commerce. There
can be no assurance that widespread acceptance of Internet commerce in
general, or of the Company's services in particular, will occur. Consumers and
dealers who have historically relied upon traditional means of commerce to
purchase vehicles and vehicle insurance, or to procure vehicle financing, must
accept novel ways of conducting business and exchanging information. In
addition, dealers must be persuaded to adopt new selling models and be trained
to use and invest in developing systems and technologies. Moreover, critical
issues concerning the commercial use of the Internet (including ease of
access, security, reliability, cost, and quality of service) remain unresolved
and may impact the growth of Internet use or the attractiveness of conducting
commerce online. There can be no assurance that consumers will use the
Internet for commerce or that the market for the Company's services will
develop successfully or achieve widespread market acceptance. If the market
for Internet-based vehicle marketing services fails to develop, develops more
slowly than expected or becomes saturated with competitors, or if the
Company's services do not achieve market acceptance, the Company's business,
results of operations and financial condition will be materially and adversely
affected. See "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and
Results of Operation" and "Business--Strategy."
 
INABILITY TO MANAGE GROWTH
 
  The rapid execution necessary for the Company to establish itself as a
leader in the evolving market for Internet-based vehicle marketing services
requires an effective planning and management process. The Company's rapid
growth has placed, and is expected to continue to place, a significant strain
on the Company's
 
                                      13

<PAGE>
 
managerial, technical, sales and marketing and administrative personnel and
financial resources. As of December 31, 1996, the Company had 73 employees
(including two employees located in Canada), compared to 17 employees as of
December 31, 1995. The Company is also in the process of testing, introducing
or developing new services. The Company anticipates that to effectively
develop, introduce and maintain such new services, it will need to hire a
significant number of qualified managerial, technical and sales and marketing
personnel in the future. Competition for such qualified individuals is intense
and there can be no assurance that the Company will be able to recruit and
retain such employees.
 
  To manage its growth, the Company must continue to implement and improve its
operational and financial systems, and expand, train and manage its employee
base and subscribing dealerships. There can be no assurance that the Company
will be able to successfully implement these changes on a timely basis.
Further, the Company is required and will continue to be required to manage
multiple relationships with consumers, dealers, strategic partners and other
third parties. There can be no assurance that the Company's systems,
procedures or controls will be adequate to support the Company's current or
future operations or that Company management will be able to achieve the rapid
execution necessary to establish itself as a leader in the evolving market for
Internet-based vehicle marketing services. For example, to date the Company
has been able to enter into written marketing agreements with less than half
of its subscribing dealership base. The Company's future operating results
will also depend on its ability to expand its sales and marketing
organizations, implement and manage new services to penetrate broader markets
and further develop and expand its organization and technology infrastructure,
to support an increased number of services. If the Company is unable to manage
growth effectively, the Company's business, results of operations and
financial condition will be materially adversely affected. See "Business--
Employees."
 
  The Company's growth strategy is predicated in part on its ability to
successfully identify, acquire and integrate companies that complement or
expand the Company's service offerings. While the Company is not currently
negotiating any acquisitions and does not have any commitments or agreements
with respect to any acquisitions, the Company anticipates that potential
acquisition opportunities may arise. The Company intends to actively pursue
any attractive acquisition opportunities. In the event that the Company were
to issue Common Stock to consummate such potential acquisitions, such
additional issuance could dilute the holdings of investors purchasing the
Common Stock offered hereby. Additionally, the Company may utilize cash to
consummate such acquisitions. There can be no assurance that the Company will
have adequate resources to consummate any acquisition, that any acquisition
will or will not occur, that any target company can be successfully integrated
into the Company, and that, if any acquisition does occur, it will not be
dilutive to the Company's earnings per share or otherwise have a material
adverse affect on the Company's business, results of operations and financial
condition.
 
DEPENDENCE ON KEY PERSONNEL
 
  The Company's performance is substantially dependent on the performance of
its executive officers and key employees, all of whom are employed on an at-
will basis and many of whom have worked together for only a short period of
time. Given the Company's early stage of development, the Company is dependent
on its ability to retain and motivate highly qualified personnel, especially
its management, technical and business development teams. The Company
maintains "key person" life insurance in the amount of $7.5 million on the
life of Peter R. Ellis, the Company's President and Chief Executive Officer.
However, the loss of the services of Mr. Ellis, or one or more of the
Company's other executive officers or key employees would likely have a
material adverse effect on the business, results of operations or financial
condition of the Company. Certain Company officers have been involved in legal
matters prior to the formation of Auto-By-Tel. While management believes that
these matters have been resolved, future proceedings, if any, could interfere
to some extent with the officers' services for the Company. See "Management."
 
  The Company's future success also depends on its ability to identify, hire,
train and retain other highly qualified sales and marketing, managerial and
technical personnel. In addition, the Company anticipates the need to hire a
significant number of personnel as it introduces new services. Competition for
such personnel is intense,
 
                                      14

<PAGE>
 
and there can be no assurance that the Company will be able to attract,
assimilate or retain such personnel in the future. The inability to attract
and retain the necessary managerial, technical and sales and marketing
personnel could have a material adverse effect upon the Company's business,
results of operations or financial condition. See "Business--Employees."
 
RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION
 
  The Company intends to expand its new vehicle marketing service to foreign
jurisdictions by establishing relationships with vehicle dealers and strategic
partners located in foreign jurisdictions in which similar challenges and
inefficiencies in the market for new vehicles exist. In addition, there are
certain risks inherent in doing business in international markets, such as
changes in regulatory requirements, tariffs and other trade barriers,
fluctuations in currency exchange rates, potentially adverse tax consequences,
difficulties in managing or overseeing foreign operations, and educating
consumers and dealers who may be unfamiliar with the benefits of online
marketing and commerce. There can be no assurance that one or more of such
factors will not have a material adverse effect on the Company's current or
future international operations and, consequently, on the Company's business,
results of operations and financial condition. See "Management's Discussion
and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations--Results of
Operations--Revenues."
 
DEPENDENCE ON THE INTERNET; CAPACITY CONSTRAINTS
 
  The Company's ability to efficiently process purchase requests for vehicles
received through the Company's Internet-based marketing service will depend,
in large part, upon a robust communications industry and infrastructure for
providing Internet access and carrying Internet traffic. The Internet may not
prove to be a viable commercial marketplace because of inadequate development
of the necessary infrastructure (e.g., reliable network backbone), timely
development of complementary products (e.g., high speed modems (devices that
enable computers to send and receive information via telephone lines)), delays
in the development or adoption of new standards and protocols required to
handle increased levels of Internet activity or increased government
regulation. In addition, to the extent that the Internet continues to
experience significant growth in the number of users and the level of use,
there can be no assurance that the Internet infrastructure will continue to be
able to support the demands placed on it by such potential growth. Because
global commerce and exchange of information on the Internet is new and
evolving, it is difficult to predict with any assurance whether the Internet
will prove to be a viable commercial marketplace. If the necessary
infrastructure or complementary products are not developed, or if the Internet
does not become a viable commercial marketplace, the Company's business,
results of operations and financial condition will be materially adversely
affected. See "Business--Operations and Technology; Facilities."
 
DEPENDENCE ON PROPRIETARY SYSTEMS AND TECHNOLOGY
 
  The Company's success and ability to compete is dependent in part upon its
proprietary systems and technology. While the Company relies on trademark,
trade secret and copyright law to protect its proprietary rights, the Company
believes that the technical and creative skills of its personnel, continued
development of its proprietary systems and technology, brand name recognition
and reliable Web site maintenance are more essential in establishing and
maintaining a leadership position and strengthening its brand. Despite the
Company's efforts to protect its proprietary rights, unauthorized parties may
attempt to copy aspects of the Company's services or to obtain and use
information that the Company regards as proprietary. Policing unauthorized use
of the Company's proprietary rights is difficult. In addition, litigation may
be necessary in the future to enforce or protect the Company's intellectual
property rights or to defend against claims of infringement or invalidity.
Misappropriation of the Company's intellectual property or potential
litigation could have a material adverse effect on the Company's business,
results of operations or financial condition. See "Business--Operations and
Technology; Facilities."
 
                                      15

<PAGE>
 
SUBSTANTIAL CONTROL BY OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS AND THEIR AFFILIATES
 
  Following the Offering, the Company's officers and directors and their
affiliates will beneficially own or control approximately 72.5% of the
outstanding shares of Common Stock (after giving effect to the conversion of
all outstanding Preferred Stock and the exercise of all outstanding options
and assuming no exercise of the Underwriter's over-allotment option). The
Company's officers, directors and their affiliates will have the ability to
control the election of the Company's Board of Directors and the outcome of
corporate actions requiring stockholder approval. See "Principal and Selling
Stockholders."
 
ANTI-TAKEOVER PROVISIONS
 
  Certain provisions of the Company's Amended and Restated Articles of
Incorporation and Bylaws could make it difficult for a third party to acquire,
and could discourage a third party from attempting to acquire, control of the
Company. Certain of these provisions allow the Company to issue Preferred
Stock with rights senior to those of the Common Stock without any further vote
or action by the stockholders and impose various procedural and other
requirements which could make it more difficult for stockholders to effect
certain corporate actions. Such charter provisions could limit the price that
certain investors might be willing to pay in the future for shares of the
Company's Common Stock or Preferred Stock and may have the effect of delaying
or preventing a change in control of the Company. The issuance of Preferred
Stock also could decrease the amount of earnings and assets available for
distribution to the holders of Common Stock or could adversely affect the
rights and powers, including voting rights, of the holders of the Common
Stock. See "Description of Capital Stock--Common Stock" and "--Preferred
Stock."
 
NO PRIOR PUBLIC MARKET; POSSIBLE VOLATILITY OF STOCK PRICE
 
  There has been no public market for the Company's Common Stock prior to this
offering. Although application will be made to the Nasdaq National Market for
listing of the Common Stock, there can be no assurance that an active trading
market will develop or be sustained or that the market price of the Common
Stock will not decline below the initial public offering price. The initial
public offering price will be determined through negotiations between the
Company and the Underwriters and may not be indicative of the market price for
the Common Stock following the Offering. See "Underwriting" for a discussion
of the factors to be considered in determining the initial public offering
price. Even if an active trading market does develop, the market price of the
Common Stock following this offering may be highly volatile. Factors such as
variations in the Company's revenue, earnings and cash flow, announcements of
new service offerings, technological innovations or price reductions by the
Company, its competitors or providers of alternative services, changes in
financial estimates by securities analysts or other events or factors could
cause the market price of the Common Stock to fluctuate substantially. In
addition, the stock markets recently have experienced significant price and
volume fluctuations that have particularly affected companies in the
technology sector and that have been unrelated to the operating performance of
those companies. Such broad market fluctuations or any failure of the
Company's operating results in a particular quarter to meet market
expectations may adversely affect the market price of the Common Stock
following this offering.
 
DILUTION
 
  Investors participating in the Offering will incur immediate, substantial
dilution. To the extent that outstanding options to purchase the Company's
Common Stock are exercised, there will be further dilution. See "Dilution."
 
ABSENCE OF DIVIDENDS
 
  The Company intends to retain all future earnings for use in the development
of its business and does not currently anticipate paying any cash dividends in
the foreseeable future. See "Dividend Policy."
 
                                      16

<PAGE>
 
SHARES ELIGIBLE FOR FUTURE SALE; REGISTRATION RIGHTS
 
  Sale of substantial numbers of shares of Common Stock in the public market
could adversely affect the market price of the Common Stock and make it more
difficult for the Company to raise funds through equity offerings in the
future. A substantial number of outstanding shares of Common Stock and other
shares of Common Stock issuable upon exercise of outstanding stock options
will become available for resale in the public market at prescribed times. Of
the 19,495,136 shares to be outstanding after the Offering, the 4,000,000
shares offered hereby will be eligible for immediate sale in the public market
without restriction. All other outstanding shares of Common Stock are subject
to 180-day lock-up agreements with the Underwriters. Upon the expiration of
the 180-day lock-up agreements, such shares of Common Stock will become
eligible for sale in the public market, subject to the provisions of Rules
144(k), 144 and 701 under the Act and any contractual restrictions on their
transfer. Montgomery Securities may, in its sole discretion and at any time
without notice, release all or any portion of the securities subject to lock-
up agreements. Upon completion of the Offering, the holders of approximately
15,322,248 shares of Common Stock will be entitled to certain registration
rights with respect to such shares. In addition, the Company intends to
register the shares of Common Stock reserved for issuance under the Company's
1996 Stock Option Plan, 1996 Stock Incentive Plan and 1996 Employee Stock
Purchase Plan following the date of this Prospectus. See "Shares Eligible for
Future Sale" and "Description of Capital Stock--Registration Rights."
 

                                USE OF PROCEEDS
 
  The net proceeds to the Company from the sale of the shares of Common Stock
offered hereby at an assumed initial public offering price of $10.25 per
share, after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and estimated offering
expenses, are estimated to be approximately $33.0 million (approximately $38.7
million if the Underwriters' over-allotment is exercised in full). The Company
will not receive any proceeds from the sale of shares of Common Stock by the
Selling Stockholder. See "Principal and Selling Stockholders."
 
  The principal purposes of the Offering are to increase the Company's equity
capital, create a public market for the Common Stock and to facilitate future
access to public equity markets. The Company intends to use approximately $12
million of the net proceeds from the Offering to fund online and traditional
advertising programs designed to strengthen the Auto-By-Tel brand name and
$6 million to fund information technology investments required to support the
transition to a real-time online communications platform and to develop new
products and services. The Company intends to use the remainder of the net
proceeds from the Offering for other working capital and general corporate
purposes. In addition, a portion of the proceeds from the Offering also may be
used for possible acquisitions of or investments in businesses, products or
technologies that expand, complement or are otherwise related to the Company's
current or planned services, although no specific acquisitions are currently
in negotiation. Pending such uses, the proceeds will be invested in short-
term, investment grade, interest-bearing securities. The Company may require
additional financing in the future to finance continuing growth. No assurance
can be given that such financing will be available on favorable terms or at
all.
 

                                DIVIDEND POLICY
 
  The Company has never declared or paid cash dividends on its capital stock.
The Company currently intends to retain all of its future earnings, if any,
for use in its business and does not anticipate paying any cash dividends in
the foreseeable future.
 
                                      17

<PAGE>
 

                                CAPITALIZATION
 
  The following table sets forth (i) the actual capitalization of the Company
derived from its financial statements as of December 31, 1996, (ii) pro forma
capitalization of the Company, giving effect to (a) the authorization of
967,915 shares of Series B Preferred Stock and the sale and issuance on
January 30, 1997 of 967,915 shares of Series B Preferred Stock at a price of
$9.35 per share and (b) the restatement of the Company's Amended and Restated
Certificate of Incorporation to provide for authorized capital stock of
50,000,000 shares of Common Stock and 5,000,000 shares of undesignated
Preferred Stock, and (c) the conversion of all outstanding shares of Preferred
Stock into 3,467,915 shares of Common Stock immediately prior to the closing
of the Offering, and (iii) the pro forma as adjusted capitalization of the
Company to reflect the sale by the Company of 3,600,000 shares of Common Stock
pursuant to the Offering at an assumed public offering price of $10.25 and the
receipt by the Company of the estimated net proceeds therefrom, after
deducting estimated underwriting discounts and estimated offering expenses.
The capitalization information set forth in the table below is qualified by
the more detailed Consolidated Financial Statements and Notes thereto included
elsewhere in this Prospectus and should be read in conjunction with such
Consolidated Financial Statements and Notes.
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                      DECEMBER 31, 1996
                                                -------------------------------
                                                                    PRO FORMA
                                                ACTUAL   PRO FORMA AS ADJUSTED
                                                -------  --------- ------------
                                                        (IN THOUSANDS)
<S>                                             <C>      <C>       <C>
Cash and cash equivalents...................... $ 9,062   $18,112    $51,129
                                                =======   =======    =======
Stockholders' equity (1):
 Convertible preferred stock, $0.001 par value;
  1,500,000 shares authorized, 1,500,000 shares
  issued and outstanding, actual; 5,000,000
  shares authorized, no shares issued and
  outstanding, pro forma and pro forma as
  adjusted.....................................       2       --         --
 Common stock, $0.001 par value; 16,666,666
  shares authorized, 12,427,221 shares issued
  and outstanding, actual; 50,000,000 shares
  authorized, 15,895,136 shares outstanding,
  pro forma; 50,000,000 shares authorized,
  19,495,136 shares issued and outstanding, pro
  forma as adjusted............................      12        16         19
 Additional paid-in capital....................  15,073    24,121     57,135
 Deferred compensation.........................     (26)      (26)       (26)
 Accumulated deficit...........................  (7,065)   (7,065)    (7,065)
                                                -------   -------    -------
  Total stockholders' equity...................   7,996    17,046     50,063
                                                -------   -------    -------
    Total capitalization....................... $ 7,996   $17,046    $50,063
                                                =======   =======    =======
</TABLE>

- --------
(1) Gives effect to a five-for-three stock split approved by the Board of
    Directors on November 24, 1996 and effected January 30, 1997. Excludes as
    of December 31, 1996: (i) 2,280,815 shares of Common Stock reserved for
    issuance pursuant to options outstanding under the Company's 1996 Stock
    Option Plan and 1996 Stock Incentive Plan at a weighted exercise price of
    $2.21 per share. On October 23, 1996, the Company terminated the 1996
    Stock Option Plan and adopted the 1996 Stock Incentive Plan and, on
    November 24, 1996, amended the 1996 Stock Incentive Plan and adopted the
    1996 Employee Stock Purchase Plan and reserved 1,250,000 and 666,666
    shares of Common Stock, respectively, for issuance thereunder. Subsequent
    to December 31, 1996, the Board of Directors granted options to purchase
    an additional 124,750 shares of Common Stock with an exercise price of
    $8.80 per share under the Company's 1996 Stock Incentive Plan. See
    "Capitalization," "Management--Stock Plans" and Notes 1, 7 and 8 of Notes
    to Consolidated Financial Statements.
 
                                      18

<PAGE>
 
                                   DILUTION
 
  The pro forma net tangible book value of the Company as of December 31, 1996
was $16.6 million or $1.04 per share of Common Stock. Pro forma net tangible
book value per share is equal to the Company's total tangible assets less its
total liabilities, divided by the number of shares of Common Stock outstanding
on a pro forma basis after giving effect to (i) the sale and issuance on
January 30, 1997 of 967,915 shares of Series B Preferred Stock at a price of
$9.35 per share and (ii) the conversion of all outstanding shares of Preferred
Stock into 3,467,915 shares of Common Stock immediately prior to the closing
of the Offering. After giving effect to the sale of 3,600,000 shares of Common
Stock offered hereby at an assumed initial public offering price of $10.25 and
the receipt by the Company of the estimated net proceeds therefrom, after
deducting estimated underwriting discounts and estimated offering expenses,
the pro forma net tangible book value of the Company at December 31, 1996
would have been $49.6 million, or $2.54 per share. This represents an
immediate increase in pro forma net tangible book value of $1.50 per share to
existing stockholders and an immediate dilution of $7.71 per share to new
investors. The following table illustrates this per share dilution:
 

<TABLE>
<S>                                                                  <C>   <C>
Assumed initial public offering price per share.....................       $10.25
 Pro forma net tangible book value per share before the Offering.... $1.04
 Increase per share attributable to new investors...................  1.50
                                                                     -----
Pro forma net tangible book value per share after the Offering......         2.54
                                                                           ------
Dilution per share to new investors.................................       $ 7.71
                                                                           ======
</TABLE>

 
  The following table summarizes, on a pro forma basis as of December 31,
1996, the number of shares of Common Stock purchased from the Company, the
total consideration paid to the Company and the average price per share paid
by existing stockholders and by the investors purchasing shares of Common
Stock in this offering (before deducting estimated underwriting discounts and
estimated offering expenses):
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                                         AVERAGE
                                   SHARES PURCHASED  TOTAL CONSIDERATION  PRICE
                                  ------------------ -------------------   PER
                                    NUMBER   PERCENT   AMOUNT    PERCENT  SHARE
                                  ---------- ------- ----------- ------- -------
<S>                               <C>        <C>     <C>         <C>     <C>
Existing stockholders(1)......... 15,895,136   81.5% $24,137,000   39.5% $ 1.52
New investors(1).................  3,600,000   18.5%  36,900,000   60.5%  10.25
                                  ----------  -----  -----------  -----
  Total.......................... 19,495,136  100.0% $61,037,000  100.0%
                                  ==========  =====  ===========  =====
</TABLE>

- --------
(1) The sale of shares by the Selling Stockholder in the Offering will cause
    the number of shares held by the existing stockholders to be reduced to
    15,495,136, or approximately 79.5% of the total number of shares, and will
    increase the number of shares to be purchased by new stockholders to
    4,000,000, or 20.5% of the total number of shares. Assuming full exercise
    of the Underwriters' over-allotment option, the number of shares held by
    new stockholders would be increased to 4,600,000 shares or 22.9% of the
    total number of shares outstanding.
 
  The foregoing tables exclude 2,405,565 shares that are issuable upon
exercise of options outstanding as of January 31, 1997 with a weighted average
exercise price of $2.55 per share. See "Management--Stock Plans." To the
extent that outstanding options are exercised in the future, there will be
further dilution to new investors.
 
                                      19

<PAGE>
 

                     SELECTED CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL DATA
 
  The following selected consolidated financial data should be read in
conjunction with the Consolidated Financial Statements and related notes
thereto and "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and
Results of Operations" appearing elsewhere in this Prospectus. The statement
of operations data for the period from January 31, 1995 (date of inception) to
December 31, 1995, and the year ended December 31, 1996 and the balance sheet
data as of December 31, 1995 and December 31, 1996 are derived from the
Consolidated Financial Statements of the Company which have been audited by
Arthur Andersen LLP, independent auditors, and are included elsewhere in this
Prospectus. See "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition
and Results of Operations."
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                             THREE MONTHS ENDED
                           JANUARY 31, 1995   --------------------------------------------------  YEAR ENDED
                         (DATE OF INCEPTION)  MARCH 31,    JUNE 30,   SEPTEMBER 30, DECEMBER 31, DECEMBER 31,
                         TO DECEMBER 31, 1995    1996        1996         1996          1996         1996
                         -------------------- ----------  ----------  ------------- ------------ ------------
                              (IN THOUSANDS, EXCEPT SHARE, PER SHARE AND SUPPLEMENTAL OPERATING DATA)
<S>                      <C>                  <C>         <C>         <C>           <C>          <C>
STATEMENT OF OPERATIONS
 DATA:
Revenues................      $      274      $      436  $      952   $    1,434    $    2,203   $    5,025
                              ----------      ----------  ----------   ----------    ----------   ----------
Operating expenses:
 Marketing and
  advertising...........             476             475         678        1,247         2,039        4,439
 Selling, training and
  support...............             454             362         563          851         1,417        3,193
 Technology development.              99              67          78          294           954        1,393
 General and
 administrative.........             275             134         258          740         1,027        2,159
                              ----------      ----------  ----------   ----------    ----------   ----------
  Total operating
   expenses.............           1,304           1,038       1,577        3,132         5,437       11,184
                              ----------      ----------  ----------   ----------    ----------   ----------
Loss from operations....          (1,030)           (602)       (625)      (1,698)       (3,234)      (6,159)
Other income (expense),
 net....................             --              --           (6)          22           108          124
                              ----------      ----------  ----------   ----------    ----------   ----------
Net loss................      $   (1,030)     $     (602) $     (631)  $   (1,676)   $   (3,126)  $   (6,035)
                              ==========      ==========  ==========   ==========    ==========   ==========
Net loss per common and
 common equivalent
 shares (1).............      $     (.07)     $     (.04) $     (.04)  $     (.11)   $     (.19)  $     (.38)
                              ==========      ==========  ==========   ==========    ==========   ==========
Weighted average common
 and common equivalent
 shares outstanding (1).      15,262,262      15,262,262  15,262,262   15,892,576    16,761,962   15,792,293
SUPPLEMENTAL OPERATING
 DATA:
Purchase requests
 received...............          42,600          44,900      73,700      102,700       123,700      345,000
Paying franchises of
 subscribing
 dealerships............             253             546         728          978         1,206        1,206
</TABLE>

 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                                DECEMBER 31,
                                                               ----------------
                                                                1995     1996
                                                               -------  -------
                                                               (IN THOUSANDS)
<S>                                                            <C>      <C>
BALANCE SHEET DATA:
Cash and cash equivalents..................................... $    48  $ 9,062
Working capital (deficit).....................................  (1,099)   5,960
Total assets..................................................     285   12,298
Total liabilities.............................................   1,275    4,302
Accumulated deficit...........................................  (1,030)  (7,065)
Stockholders' equity (deficit)................................    (990)   7,996
</TABLE>

- -------
(1) See Note 1.o of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for an
    explanation of the determination of shares used in computing net loss per
    share.
 
                                      20

<PAGE>
 

               MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL
                      CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
 
  The following discussion of the results of operations and financial
condition of the Company should be read in conjunction with the Company's
Consolidated Financial Statements and Notes thereto included elsewhere in this
Prospectus. This discussion contains forward-looking statements based on
current expectations which involve risks and uncertainties. Actual results and
the timing of certain events may differ significantly from those projected in
such forward-looking statements due to a number of factors, including those
set forth in the section entitled "Risk Factors" and elsewhere in this
Prospectus.
 
OVERVIEW
 
  Auto-By-Tel is establishing a nationally branded Internet-based marketing
service for new and used vehicle purchasing and related consumer services. The
Company's Web site (www.autobytel.com) enables consumers to gather valuable
automotive information and shop for vehicles and related consumer services
from the convenience of their home or office. Monthly vehicle purchase
requests increased from 10,700 in January 1996 to 40,000 in December 1996.
During the same period, the number of paying franchises of subscribing
dealerships increased from 253 franchises as of December 31, 1995 to 1,206
franchises as of December 31, 1996. The Company believes that the growth rates
experienced by the Company since inception are not indicative of future growth
rates and that growth will be slower in the future. Auto-By-Tel LLC was formed
in January 1995 and began operations in March 1995. In July 1995, it
introduced its Web site. Effective as of May 31, 1996, the interests of the
members of Auto-By-Tel LLC and ABT Acceptance Company LLC, an affiliate, were
transferred to the Company in a tax-free transaction.
 
  To date, substantially all of the Company's revenues have been derived from
new vehicle marketing fees paid by franchises of subscribing new vehicle
dealerships. As of December 31, 1996 the Company's participating dealership
base consisted of (i) 1,206 paying franchises of dealerships, (ii) 509 non-
paying franchises affiliated with paying dealerships (collectively,
"subscribing dealerships") and (iii) approximately 230 "trial dealers." A
subscribing dealership is comprised of one or more franchises with typically
high volume vehicle sales (such as Ford or Toyota). A subscribing dealership
may sell vehicles from multiple manufacturers and therefore have multiple
subscribing dealer franchises. Dealerships pay initial, annual and monthly
fees per franchise to subscribe to the Company's nationally branded Internet-
based marketing program. Non-paying franchises are associated with lower
volume vehicle manufacturers (such as Audi, Saab or Suzuki) and receive
purchase request referrals without paying fees to Auto-By-Tel. The Company's
230 trial dealerships have not entered into agreements with the Company. Such
dealerships maintain an informal relationship with the Company, whereby the
Company directs at its discretion, purchase requests to such potential
dealership participants on a trial basis in order to assist the Company and
the dealership in evaluating the effectiveness of the Auto-By-Tel program at
such dealership. The Company does not collect fees from trial dealerships.
Neither the Company nor any trial dealership is obligated to continue this
relationships nor is any trial dealership obligated to respond to purchase
requests which it receives.
 
  In order to generate additional revenues, attract more consumers to its Web
site and dealerships to its program and remain competitive, the Company must
successfully develop, market and introduce new services. The Company believes
that to achieve its objectives it will need to generate a majority of its
future revenues from new services. These new services will leverage the
Company's existing network of dealerships. The Company's used vehicle
marketing program is expected to commence in the first quarter of 1997. The
Company will charge each new vehicle dealership which participates in the
Company's used vehicle program separate signup and annual fees. See
"Business--Products and Services--Used Vehicle Marketing Service." In
addition, the Company intends to charge daily listing fees for each used
vehicle marketed through the used vehicle program. In October 1996, the
Company entered into an agreement with Chase Manhattan pursuant to which Chase
Manhattan will offer vehicle loans to consumers referred by the Company and
pay the Company and the related subscribing dealership an origination fee on
each loan. The Company's financing program with Chase Manhattan is expected to
become available to purchasers of new vehicles in the first quarter of 1997
and is
 
                                      21

<PAGE>
 
intended for consumers with prime (higher quality) credit ratings.
Additionally, the Company expects to begin offering financing to purchasers
with sub-prime (lower quality) credit ratings in the second quarter of 1997.
Finance program revenues will be recognized in the month the loan is
originated. The Company also plans to offer leasing through a major financial
institution in the second quarter of 1997. In August 1996, the Company began
offering an insurance service to its consumers through certain member
companies of AIG, one of the largest international insurance organizations,
and, as part of such service, recently began offering a direct hyperlink (text
on a Web site that, when selected, links a user to another Web site) to the
specific Web site of such AIG member companies. In October 1996, the Company
received an insurance brokerage license from the State of California.
Subsequent to receipt of this license, the Company became eligible to receive
referral fees from AIG member companies. Fees due the Company under the
insurance program are calculated as a percentage of the net premiums collected
by AIG member companies and revenues are recognized by the Company as premiums
on the underlying policies are earned by AIG member companies.
 
  The Company first recognized revenues from operations in March 1995.
Accordingly, the Company has only a limited operating history upon which an
evaluation of the Company and its prospects can be based. In addition, the
Company believes that, in order to achieve its objectives, it will need to
significantly increase revenues from existing services and generate revenues
from new services, such as the planned used vehicle buying service and the
planned vehicle financing, leasing and insurance policy referral services. See
"Risk Factors--Limited Operating History and Accumulated Deficit" and "--Risks
Associated with Introduction of New Service Offerings."
 
  As a result of the Company's limited operating history, the Company lacks
sufficient historical financial and operating data on which to base operating
results. The Company's expense levels are based in part on its expectations as
to future revenues, which may vary in relation to increases or decreases in
the number of dealerships which subscribe to the Company's marketing program.
The Company's inability to adjust spending in a timely manner to compensate
for any unexpected revenue shortfall would have a material adverse effect on
the Company's business, results of operations and financial condition. In
addition, the Company anticipates significant increases in costs and expenses
as a result of planned increases in its marketing and advertising efforts,
dealership training and support, development of affiliate programs relating to
vehicle insurance and financing, and the introduction of a used vehicle buying
program. The Company also anticipates significant additions to its managerial,
technical, sales and marketing, and administrative personnel in order to
support the Company's growth and business objectives. To the extent that such
expenses exceed, precede or are not subsequently followed by increased
revenues, the Company's business, results of operations and financial
condition will be materially adversely affected. See "Risk Factors--Potential
Fluctuations in Quarterly Results."
 
  Significant fluctuations in future quarterly operating results may also be
caused by general economic conditions or traditional seasonality in the
automobile and light duty truck markets, which may result in fluctuations in
the level of purchase requests completed by consumers or adversely affect
demand for the Company's existing and planned services. The foregoing factors
make it likely that, in some future quarters, the Company's operating results
will be below the expectations of the Company, securities analysts or
investors. In such event, the trading price of the Common Stock would likely
be materially and adversely affected.
 
 
                                      22

<PAGE>
 
RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
 
  The following tables set forth certain unaudited quarterly financial
information for the eight quarters ended December 31, 1996. In the opinion of
management, this information has been prepared substantially on the same basis
as the financial statements appearing elsewhere in this Prospectus, and all
necessary adjustments (consisting only of normal recurring adjustments and
certain non-recurring adjustments) have been included in the amounts stated
below to present fairly the unaudited quarterly results when read in
conjunction with the audited consolidated financial statements of the Company
and related notes thereto appearing elsewhere in this Prospectus. The
operating results for any quarter are not necessarily indicative of the
operating results for any future period.
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                       QUARTER ENDED
                         -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                         MAR. 31, JUNE 30, SEPT. 30, DEC. 31, MAR. 31, JUNE 30, SEPT. 30, DEC. 31,
                         1995(1)    1995     1995      1995     1996     1996     1996      1996
                         -------- -------- --------- -------- -------- -------- --------- --------
                                                      (IN THOUSANDS)
<S>                      <C>      <C>      <C>       <C>      <C>      <C>      <C>       <C>
Revenues................   $  3    $  18     $  77    $ 176    $  436   $  952   $ 1,434  $ 2,203
                           ----    -----     -----    -----    ------   ------   -------  -------
Operating expenses:
 Marketing and
  advertising...........      6       38       130      302       475      678     1,247    2,039
 Selling, training and
  support...............     13       98       136      207       362      563       851    1,417
 Technology development.      6       28        44       21        67       78       294      954
 General and
  administrative........     14       73        83      105       134      258       740    1,027
                           ----    -----     -----    -----    ------   ------   -------  -------
    Total operating
     expenses...........     39      237       393      635     1,038    1,577     3,132    5,437
                           ----    -----     -----    -----    ------   ------   -------  -------
Loss from operations....    (36)    (219)     (316)    (459)     (602)    (625)   (1,698)  (3,234)
Other income (expense),
 net....................    --       --        --       --        --        (6)       22      108
                           ----    -----     -----    -----    ------   ------   -------  -------
Net loss................   $(36)   $(219)    $(316)   $(459)   $ (602)  $ (631)  $(1,676) $(3,126)
                           ====    =====     =====    =====    ======   ======   =======  =======
</TABLE>

- --------
(1)Period from the Company's inception on January 31, 1995.
 
 REVENUES
 
  Revenues were $274,000 in 1995 and $5.0 million in 1996. Revenues increased
each successive quarter, from $3,000 in the first quarter of 1995 to $176,000
in the fourth quarter of 1995 to $436,000 in the first quarter of 1996 to $2.2
million in the fourth quarter of 1996. The growth in revenues was primarily
due to an increase in the number of paying subscribing dealerships in the
Company's new vehicle marketing programs from 253 as of December 31, 1995 to
1,206 as of December 31, 1996, and, to a lesser extent, increases in average
dealership fees.
 
  Since its inception in January 1995, the Company has derived substantially
all of its revenues from fees paid by its paying subscribing new vehicle
dealerships. Currently, these fees typically consist of (i) initial
subscription fees ranging from $2,500 to $4,500, (ii) annual fees of $2,500
and (iii) monthly fees ranging from $250 to $1,500. These dealership fees are
fixed. However, under the Company's marketing agreements, which less than half
of subscribing dealerships have signed, the Company may typically increase or
decrease dealership fees with 30 or 60 days' prior notice. For example, the
average initial and monthly fee paid by the Company's subscribing dealerships
increased from approximately $2,300 and $250, respectively, in December 1995
to approximately $3,300 and $400 in December 1996. Average annual fees
increased from $2,300 in May 1996 to $2,400 in December 1996. The Company
intends to continuously review its pricing structure and adjust dealership
fees in a manner commensurate with its ability to reduce a dealership's
selling costs but there can be no assurance that dealership fees will continue
to increase in the future.
 
  In April 1996, the Company introduced its new vehicle marketing service in
Canada and, as of December 31, 1996, the Company had 72 paying franchises of
subscribing dealerships located in Canada. In 1996, the Company derived
approximately 98% of its revenues from dealership fees paid by subscribing
 
                                      23

<PAGE>
 
dealerships located in the United States and 2% of its revenues from
dealership fees paid by subscribing dealerships in Canada. Fees from Canadian
dealerships are denominated in U.S. dollars. To date, the Company has had
limited experience in providing its Internet-based marketing service abroad
and there can be no assurance that the Company will be successful in
introducing or marketing its service abroad or will not encounter foreign
regulation of its operations.
 
  New vehicle marketing revenues derived under subscription agreements are
recognized as follows: initial fees are recognized ratably over the first
twelve months following receipt, annual fees are recognized ratably over the
twelve months commencing when due, and monthly fees are recognized when due.
In certain instances, the Company will waive a newly subscribing dealership's
monthly fees for several months. Initial fees are typically paid prior to the
commencement of services. The Company typically bills its subscribing
dealerships prior to the due date of any monthly fees and annual fees. On
average, the Company collects outstanding receivables for monthly and annual
fees within two to three weeks of the due date. The Company's new vehicle
dealer fees are not calculated on a per vehicle basis. See "--Revenues,"
"Business--Dealership Network and Training," and Note 1.e of Notes to
Consolidated Financial Statements.
 
  The introduction of new services by the Company's competitors, market
acceptance of Internet-related services in general and, in particular, demand
for the Company's services, and the introduction by the Company of new
services and market acceptance of such services may also result in significant
fluctuations in quarterly operating results. In addition, as a strategic
response to changes in the competitive environment, the Company may from time
to time make certain pricing or marketing decisions or establish strategic
relationships that could have a material adverse effect on the Company's
business, results of operations or financial condition. In particular, the
Company may need to revise the marketing fees it charges to subscribing
dealers. There can be no assurance that subscribing dealerships will continue
to participate in the Company's marketing program or agree to future fee
increases. Currently, less than half of subscribing dealerships have entered
into written marketing agreements with the Company and these subscribing
dealerships may cancel subscriptions on 30 days' prior notice. As a result,
quarterly sales and operating results may vary significantly in response to
any significant change in the number of subscribing dealerships. In December
1996, the Company commenced an effort to have all subscribing dealerships
execute revised marketing agreements with the Company, which have been revised
to provide, among other things, that such dealerships will not participate in
any other Internet-based or online program with attributes similar to those of
the Auto-By-Tel program. At the same time, the Company commenced a program to
have all subscribing dealerships enter into written agreements relating to the
Auto-By-Tel financing program. As of March 11, 1997, approximately 48% and 26%
of all subscribing dealerships had signed the revised marketing agreement and
the financing agreement, respectively. Some of the Company's dealers have
resisted signing written agreements and there can be no assurance that the
Company will be able to convince its subscribing dealers to enter into written
agreements with the Company or revise existing agreements or that the
Company's efforts to cause subscribing dealers to sign these agreements will
not result in the subscribing dealers terminating their relationship with
Auto-By-Tel. See "Business--Dealership Network and Training."
 
 MARKETING AND ADVERTISING
 
  Marketing and advertising expenses have historically consisted primarily of
referral fees paid to online automotive information providers, online service
providers and online search engine companies which recommend and refer
consumers to the Auto-By-Tel Web site or allow consumers to complete Auto-By-
Tel vehicle purchase requests on their Web sites. Other marketing and
advertising expenses include print advertising, public relations expenses,
salaries and associated expenses related to the Company's marketing personnel.
Marketing and advertising expenses were $476,000 in 1995 and $4.4 million in
1996. Marketing and advertising expenses increased each successive quarter,
from $6,000 in the first quarter of 1995 to $302,000 in the fourth quarter of
1995 to $475,000 in the first quarter of 1996 to $2.0 million in the fourth
quarter of 1996. Marketing and advertising expenses increased due to increased
referral fees paid as a result of increased vehicle purchase requests,
increased print advertising, and the addition of marketing and advertising
employees as well as national
 
                                      24

<PAGE>
 
print and television branding efforts. The marketing and advertising staff
grew from two employees as of December 31, 1995 to five employees as of
December 31, 1996. The Company anticipates that the overall level of marketing
and advertising expenditures will increase significantly in the future,
particularly in the first half of 1997 in connection with the Company's
efforts to further increase awareness of the Auto-By-Tel brand name. The
Company commenced cable television advertising in the fourth quarter of 1996
and launched network television advertising in the first quarter of 1997. Due
to seasonal variations in the timing of marketing and advertising
expenditures, the Company anticipates that marketing and advertising expenses
will vary significantly from quarter to quarter.
   
  Much of the Company's advertising is placed on Web sites maintained by
online service providers and online search engine companies. The Company's
advertising agreements with online service providers and search engine
companies are generally short-term contracts or are otherwise cancelable on
short notice. There can be no assurance that these advertisers will not cancel
such contracts, or that competitors will not be able to displace Auto-By-Tel
from its preferred advertising arrangements with such companies. The intense
competition in the sale of Internet advertising, including competition from
other vehicle marketing services, has resulted in a wide range of rates quoted
by different vendors for a variety of advertising services. This makes it very
difficult to project future levels of Internet advertising costs and
availability of prime advertising space. The Company has also entered into
agreements with automotive information services, such as Edmunds and Microsoft
CarPoint, to display the Company's services on their Web sites. These
agreements require the Company to pay such entities a fee for each user who
submits a vehicle purchase request to Auto-By-Tel from their sites.
Accordingly, any increase in the volume of purchase requests will result in
increased advertising costs, but revenue from dealers will not necessarily
increase thereafter. The Company is also incurring significant expenses to
increase awareness of its Internet-based marketing service in print and
television media. The Company expects these expenses to increase
significantly, particularly in the first half of 1997. In the fourth quarter
of 1996, the Company began to advertise on cable television. In the first
quarter of 1997, the Company commenced advertising on network television,
including a 30 second commercial which aired during the Super Bowl. See
"Business--Marketing and Sales."     
 
 SELLING, TRAINING AND SUPPORT
 
  Selling, training and support expenses consist primarily of dealer training
and support, salaries and related costs for customer service personnel and
travel and entertainment. Selling, training and support expenses were $454,000
in 1995 and $3.2 million in 1996. Selling, training and support expenses
increased each successive quarter, from $13,000 in the first quarter of 1995
to $207,000 in the fourth quarter of 1995 to $362,000 in the first quarter of
1996 to $1.4 million in the fourth quarter of 1996. Selling, training and
support expenses increased primarily as the result of the addition of selling,
training, and support staff and the associated overhead and employment costs.
Selling, training and support staff grew from 11 employees as of December 31,
1995 to 39 employees (including two in Canada) as of December 31, 1996.
 
 TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT
 
  Technology development expenditures are charged to expense as incurred and
consist primarily of personnel and related compensation costs and contract
labor to support software development and configuration and implementation of
the Company's Internet, telecommunications and support system infrastructure.
Technology development expenses have increased significantly since the
Company's inception, from $6,000 in the first quarter of 1995 to $67,000 in
the first quarter of 1996 to $954,000 in the fourth quarter of 1996.
Technology development expenses increased primarily as a result of increased
third party software development costs and increased costs associated with the
increase in technical headcount from one employee as of April 25, 1996 to 12
employees as of December 31, 1996 and, to a lesser extent, additional indirect
costs associated with the Company's expanded technology development efforts.
These increased expenditures were necessary to support the Company's
development of its Dealer Realtime System, the used vehicle program software
and systems, and the rollout of the financing and lease programs.
 
 
                                      25

<PAGE>
 
 GENERAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE
 
  General and administrative expenses consist primarily of salaries of
financial and administrative personnel, a portion of salaries of other
managerial personnel and related travel expenses, as well as legal and
accounting expenses. General and administrative expenses increased each
successive quarter, from $14,000 in the first quarter of 1995 to $105,000 in
the fourth quarter of 1995 to $134,000 in the first quarter of 1996 to $1.0
million in the fourth quarter of 1996. General and administrative expenses
increased primarily as a result of increased accounting and legal expenses,
and the addition of administrative and financial staff. The general and
administrative staff grew from three employees as of December 31, 1995 to 17
employees as of December 31, 1996. The Company intends to increase the
absolute dollar level of general and administrative expenses in future
periods. The Company anticipates significant additions to its managerial,
technical, sales and marketing and administrative personnel in order to
support the Company's growth and business objectives. To the extent that such
expenses exceed, precede or are not subsequently followed by increased
revenues, the Company's business, results of operations and financial
condition will be materially adversely affected.
 
 OTHER INCOME (EXPENSE), NET
 
  Other expense in the second and third quarters of 1996 consisted of interest
expense on amounts borrowed from the Company's Chairman, John Bedrosian, and
Michael Fuchs, who subsequently became a director of the Company. These
amounts were loaned to the Company to allow the Company to meet its liquidity
requirements. Following the Company's $15.0 million financing in August 1996,
the Company repaid the amounts borrowed from Mr. Bedrosian, together with
$20,000 of accrued interest expense, and converted the amounts borrowed from
Mr. Fuchs, together with accrued interest, into Series A Preferred Stock. The
Company realized $40,000 and $108,000 of interest income in the third and
fourth quarters, respectively, as a result of increased cash balances derived
from the issuance of Series A Preferred Stock. See Notes 3 and 5.a of Notes to
Consolidated Financial Statements.
 
 INCOME TAXES
 
  No provision for federal and state income taxes has been recorded as the
Company incurred operating losses through December 31, 1996. As of December
31, 1996, the Company had approximately $4.7 million of net operating loss
carryforwards which are available to offset future federal and state taxable
income; such carryforwards expire in various years through 2011. Under the Tax
Reform Act of 1986, the amounts of and the benefits from net operating loss
carryforwards may be impaired in certain circumstances. Events which may cause
such limitations in the amount of available net operating losses which the
Company may utilize in any one year include, but are not limited to, a
cumulative ownership change of more than 50% over a three year period. As of
December 31, 1996, the effect of such limitation, if imposed, has not been
determined. The Company has provided a full valuation allowance on the
deferred tax asset because of the uncertainty regarding its realization. See
Note 4 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.
 
 LIQUIDITY AND CAPITAL RESOURCES
 
  As of December 31, 1996, the Company had approximately $9.1 million in cash
and short-term investments. Since its inception, the Company has financed its
operations primarily through loans from John Bedrosian, the Company's Chairman
and co-founder, loans from Mr. Michael Fuchs, who subsequently became a
director of the Company, and the issuance of Preferred Stock in August 1996
and January 1997. See "Certain Transactions." For fiscal 1995 and 1996, cash
used in operating activities was primarily attributable to the net losses from
operations and increases in accounts receivable, prepaid expenses and other
assets, offset to some extent by increases in deferred income and other
current liabilities. For the year ended December 31, 1996, cash used in
investing activities was attributable to purchases of property and equipment
consisting primarily of computer hardware, telecommunications equipment,
furniture and leasehold improvements.
 
                                      26

<PAGE>
 
  The Company has no material commitments other than those under the operating
lease for its principal executive offices and certain marketing and
advertising agreements and arrangements (considered in the aggregate) for the
next twelve months. However, the Company anticipates a substantial increase in
its capital expenditures and operating lease expenses in 1997. The Company
believes that the net proceeds from this offering, along with current cash and
cash equivalents, will be sufficient to fund its working capital and capital
expenditure requirements for at least the next twelve months. Thereafter, if
cash generated from operations is insufficient to satisfy the Company's
liquidity requirements, the Company may seek to issue additional equity or
debt securities or establish a credit facility. The issuance of additional
equity or convertible debt securities could result in additional dilution to
the Company's shareholders. There can be no assurance that financing will be
available to the Company in amounts or on terms acceptable to the Company. See
"Use of Proceeds" and Notes 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 of Notes to Consolidated
Financial Statements.
 
                                      27

<PAGE>
 

 
                                  BUSINESS
 
OVERVIEW
 
  Auto-By-Tel is establishing a nationally branded Internet-based marketing
service for new and used vehicle purchasing and related consumer services. The
Company's Web site (www.autobytel.com) enables consumers to gather valuable
information about automobiles and light duty trucks ("vehicles") and shop for
vehicles and related consumer services from the convenience of their home or
office. This convenience, coupled with low, haggle-free pricing and quick and
courteous service, improves consumers' overall buying experiences. The
Company's Internet-based alternative to traditional vehicle retailing
dramatically reduces participating dealerships' selling costs per vehicle and
increases sales volumes by channeling a large number of ready-to-buy, well-
informed consumers to Auto-By-Tel dealerships. The Company's Internet-based
services are free to consumers and, to date, the Company has derived
substantially all of its revenues from fees paid by subscribing dealerships.
See "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results
of Operations--Revenues."
 
  Consumers wishing to purchase new vehicles through the Company's services
complete a request available on the Company's and its partners' Web sites
which specifies the type of vehicle and accessories desired, along with the
consumer's phone number, e-mail address and zip code. The purchase request is
then forwarded to the Auto-By-Tel participating dealership located in the
consumer's geographic area. Typically, consumers are contacted by dealers
within 48 hours with a firm, competitive quote for the vehicle, eliminating
the unwelcome and time-consuming task of negotiating with the dealer and thus
facilitating completion of the sale. As of December 31, 1996 the Company's
Internet-based dealership base consisted of (i) 1,206 paying franchises of
dealerships, (ii) 509 non-paying franchises affiliated with paying dealerships
(collectively, "subscribing dealerships"), and (iii) approximately 230 "trial
dealers." Non-paying franchises are typically franchises of lower-volume
manufacturers affiliated with paying franchises participating in the Auto-By-
Tel program. The Company enters into agreements with non-paying franchises to
ensure that it is able to serve the broadest base of customers and increase
its geographic coverage for the make of vehicle represented by the non-paying
franchise. Accommodating non-paying franchises allows Auto-By-Tel to offer
additional benefit to its dealership network and represents a potential source
of additional financing and insurance revenue. In addition, the Company may
begin charging marketing fees to a non-paying franchise which begins to
receive a sufficient number purchase requests. From the commencement of
operations in March 1995 to December 31, 1996, the Company received more than
385,000 new vehicle purchase requests. See "Dealership Network and Training."
 
INDUSTRY BACKGROUND
 
 Information and Commerce on the Internet
 
  The Internet is a network of computers which enables users to access and
share information and conduct business transactions. Much of the recent growth
in the use of the Internet by businesses and individuals has been driven by
the emergence of the World Wide Web (the "Web") which enables non-technical
users to exploit the resources of the Internet. International Data Corporation
("IDC") estimates that the number of Web users increased from 16.1 million at
the end of 1995 to 34.6 million at the end of 1996 and that this number will
increase to 163 million by the end of the year 2000.
 
  The emergence of the Internet as a significant communications medium is
driving the development and adoption of Web content and commerce applications
that offer convenience and value to consumers, as well as unique marketing
opportunities and reduced operating costs to businesses. By hosting
information about products and services on the Web, a company can enable
potential customers in any geographical area to gather relevant, in-depth
information about products and services at their convenience and according to
their preferences. A growing number of consumers have begun to transact
business electronically, such as paying bills, booking airline tickets,
trading securities and purchasing consumer goods, including personal
computers, consumer electronics, compact disks, books and vehicles. Moreover,
online transactions can be faster, less expensive and more convenient than
transactions conducted through a human intermediary. In addition, Web commerce
 
                                      28

<PAGE>
 
applications enable businesses to rapidly target and economically manage a
broad customer base and establish and maintain ongoing direct customer
relationships. IDC estimates that the dollar value of goods and services
purchased over the Web will increase from approximately $318 million in 1995
to $95 billion in the year 2000.
 
  The increasing use of the Internet has encouraged information providers to
post their automotive information on the Internet. For example, Kelley Blue
Book (www.kbb.com), Edmund Publications (www.edmund.com), AutoSite
(www.autosite.com), IntelliChoice (www.intellichoice.com) and Microsoft's
CarPoint (carpoint.msn.com) all maintain Web sites that allow consumers to
conduct comprehensive automotive research online. The marketing capabilities
of the Web, combined with the easy availability of automotive information,
have enabled the establishment of Web-based vehicle marketing services. Many
of these services may be characterized as either online services sponsored by
technology providers with little understanding of the automobile and light
duty truck markets, or Web sites published by traditional vehicle dealers or
manufacturers which do not effectively utilize the capabilities of the
Internet to provide an effective buying solution.
 
 New Vehicle Retailing
 
  Buying a new vehicle is the second largest purchase an average consumer
makes. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association ("NADA"), the
industry's largest dealer organization, $293 billion was spent by consumers in
the United States in 1995 on new vehicles, representing 14.8 million new
units. Although it attracts significant consumer dollars, the vehicle sales
process has not changed significantly in the last 25 years. In the United
States, new vehicles are sold almost exclusively by approximately 22,000
dealerships franchised by manufacturers.
 
  The excitement of purchasing a new vehicle is often muted by the fear of
being misled, intimidated or pressured into making a purchase decision.
Dealerships typically retain multiple levels of sales personnel trained in
sales, deal closing, finance and insurance. As a result, a consumer is often
faced with the prospect of negotiating with numerous individuals, all of whom
receive compensation based on a percentage of the profits on each sale. This
makes it difficult for a consumer to receive clear information or a fair price
without protracted and unpleasant negotiation. These dynamics often result in
low consumer satisfaction as consumers view sales tactics utilized by some
dealers as self serving, unfair, intimidating or overbearing.
 
  Notwithstanding the magnitude of the new vehicle market, the automotive
dealer infrastructure is under pressure and consolidating. The new vehicle
retailing business is fiercely competitive due to an overabundance of dealers.
A significant number of dealers not only compete against dealers franchised by
other manufacturers, but against dealers located in the same geographical area
who are affiliated with the same manufacturer. In addition, the typical
business model of a new vehicle dealership is capital intensive, requiring
significant investments in inventory, and is characterized by an expensive
sales cost structure and significant pressure to increase per unit gross
profit. These factors have fostered industry consolidation resulting in a 27%
decrease in the number of dealerships in the last 25 years. According to J.D.
Power and Associates, a recognized automobile industry market research firm,
this consolidation trend is likely to continue in the future.
 
  The historic abundance of dealerships and the resulting intense competition
have led to the development of high-pressure sales methods designed not only
to complete the sale of new vehicles, but also to increase per unit gross
profit from additional product sales to the same consumer, such as vehicle
accessories, financing, insurance and extended service contracts. These high-
pressure sales methods have resulted in low consumer satisfaction and low
sales productivity. The Company believes that the productivity of a typical
retail salesperson has essentially remained unchanged over the past 10 years.
In order to overcome this low productivity, a dealership must generate more
sales leads by spending significant amounts to market its franchise, maintain
a large selection of vehicles and improve the physical premises to attract
consumers. These efforts are often accompanied by high priced print and
television advertising. These factors, combined with the high cost of
attracting and retaining the numerous sales personnel required to effect
vehicle sales utilizing current sales methods, have significantly increased
the average cost per new vehicle sold. According to NADA, average labor and
overhead costs (exclusive of floor plan and prorated rent expenses) incurred
per vehicle sold in 1995 totaled approximately
 
                                      29

<PAGE>
 
$1,120 and average marketing and advertising cost per vehicle sold in 1995
totaled $219. Increased costs contributed to an average loss to dealers of $22
per new vehicle sold in 1995.
 
  Low consumer satisfaction and the inefficient nature of traditional vehicle
retailing have left both consumers and retailers seeking an alternative means
of buying and selling automobiles and light duty trucks.
 
THE AUTO-BY-TEL SOLUTION
 
  Auto-By-Tel is establishing a nationally branded Internet-based marketing
service for new and used vehicle purchasing and related consumer services.
Using the Internet, consumers in the United States and Canada submit purchase
requests on the Company's and its partners' Web site. Each purchase request is
then forwarded to the Auto-By-Tel dealership located in the consumer's
geographic area. The dealership then telephones the consumer with a firm,
competitive price. By providing an Internet-based alternative to traditional
vehicle retailing, Auto-By-Tel provides the following benefits:
 
  Benefits to Consumers. Using Auto-By-Tel's Internet-based marketing program,
consumers benefit from the convenience and privacy of shopping from their home
or office; online access to a wide range of up-to-date information about
vehicle models, options and dealer costs; receipt of a competitive price
without the need to haggle; and quick and courteous delivery of the vehicle.
 
  Benefits to Dealers. One of the goals of the Auto-By-Tel program is to
significantly reduce dealers' labor and marketing costs attributable to a
vehicle sale. The Company provides participating dealers a high-volume of
quality purchase requests at a low cost. These requests are submitted by
consumers who have indicated their level of purchase commitment and who, in
most cases, have already conducted research on their desired vehicle. As a
result, dealers can complete the sales process more quickly and efficiently
under the Auto-By-Tel program than via traditional sales methods, thereby
reducing a dealer's labor costs. In addition, participating dealers can reduce
their average per vehicle marketing costs by gaining access to a large number
of serious purchasers without incurring the expense of incremental
advertising.
 
STRATEGY
 
  The Company is committed to being the premier nationally branded, Internet-
based marketing service for new and used vehicles and related consumer
services. Key elements of the Company's strategy include:
 
  Enhancing the Strength of Auto-By-Tel Brand Name. The Company believes that
enhancing the strength of the Auto-By-Tel brand name and positioning itself as
the industry standard for Internet-based, consumer friendly, low cost vehicle
purchasing and related consumer services is critical in its efforts to attract
vehicle buyers and to increase the size of its subscribing dealership base.
The Company further believes that the early stage of Internet commerce and the
Company's leadership in the development of the Internet-based vehicle
purchasing market provide it with an opportunity to establish a level of
branding not typically available to newer companies. A key element of the
Company's strategy is to devote significant management and financial resources
to brand name-building activities, including advertising in online and
traditional print and television media, public relations initiatives and
participation in industry conferences and trade shows. The Company
aggressively promotes awareness of its brand name primarily through (i)
strategic marketing relationships with Internet-based automotive information
providers including AutoSite, Edmund's and Microsoft CarPoint, (ii) Internet
advertising (sometimes on an exclusive or preferred basis) on online search
engines, such as Excite, Magellan, and WebCrawler, (iii) online service
providers, such as America Online's Digital Cities, CompuServe and Prodigy and
(iv) in popular automotive and Internet related magazines. Recently, the
Company began to place advertisements in a number of additional leading
magazines and on television in order to reach a wider audience, strengthen the
awareness of the Auto-By-Tel brand name and drive consumer traffic to the
Company's Web site.
 
  Maintaining, Strengthening and Expanding Online and Internet
Relationships. Contractual agreements with online services, Internet search
engine companies, and other service providers which recommend and refer
 
                                      30

<PAGE>
 
consumers to the Company or allow consumers to complete purchase requests on
their Web sites are critical to increasing the Company's visibility on the
Internet, enhancing the strength of its brand name and generating a high
volume of purchase requests. For example, the Company has exclusive or
preferred position on Web sites maintained by AutoSite, Edmund's and Microsoft
CarPoint. The Company intends to strengthen its relationships with existing
Internet referral sources and continue to seek exclusive or preferred
arrangement with such sources. In addition, the Company continues to seek
opportunities to promote its services on other Web sites or to enter into
strategic alliances with or acquisitions of complementary service providers.
See "Marketing and Sales."
 
  Continuing to Expand and Upgrade Technology Infrastructure. The Company
believes that its future success is significantly dependent on its ability to
continuously improve the speed and reliability of its Web site, accommodate
increasing traffic and enhance communication functionality with its consumers
and dealers. The Company has recently added the capability to communicate with
dealers online and upload information, including photographs, on a weekly
basis, about their used vehicle inventory to the Company's used vehicle
database. The Company plans to continue to expand its technological
infrastructure, enhance the security and reliability of the Company's Web site
and develop additional sophisticated software applications and user interfaces
to accommodate planned services.
 
  Expanding Dealership Base and Improving Dealer Service. The Company believes
that the size and quality of its participating dealership base is critical to
the success of its business. The Company intends to capitalize on its
marketing and advertising programs to further the expansion of its dealership
base. This expansion would provide the Company with the ability to increase
its geographic penetration and improve its ability to service the purchase
requests of a greater number of consumers. In addition, the Company believes
that increased consumer satisfaction with the vehicle purchasing experience is
essential to the success and differentiation of its services. Accordingly, the
Company maintains an extensive training program for its participating
dealerships which includes the initial and ongoing training of dealership
representatives and emphasizes rapid response times, a firm competitive price
quote and fair and honest treatment of its consumers. The Company regularly
solicits consumer feedback and monitors dealership compliance with the Auto-
By-Tel program.
 
  Leveraging Existing Auto-By-Tel Brand Name and Marketing Model with
Additional Services. The Company continually evaluates opportunities to
leverage the Auto-By-Tel brand name and its Internet-based vehicle purchasing
model by introducing new and complementary services. For example, the Company
has an alliance with AIG to offer the Company's consumers high-quality and
price competitive vehicle insurance and an agreement with Chase Manhattan to
provide competitive new and used vehicle financing to consumers with prime
credit ratings. The Company is negotiating similar relationships with several
leading financial institutions to provide new and used vehicle leasing
services and vehicle loans to sub-prime credit consumers. The Company also
plans to introduce used vehicle marketing services and an affinity program to
further penetrate its potential consumer base. The Company currently expects
these new service offerings to be launched in the first half of 1997.
 
  Pursuing International Growth Opportunities. The Internet and online service
providers enable the Company to market its services internationally. The
Company believes that its vehicle purchasing model can be adapted for use in
countries in which the vehicle retailing industry faces structural
inefficiencies and consumer dissatisfaction similar to that experienced in the
United States. The Company recently introduced its service in Canada and as of
December 31, 1996, had a subscribing dealership base of 72 Canadian franchises
and, in the fourth quarter of 1996, processed over 3,000 purchase requests
from Canadian consumers.
 
  Leveraging Proprietary Consumer Information. The Company's growing database
may, in the future, have the potential to provide dealers and manufacturers
with improved information regarding consumer preferences which they may
utilize to streamline purchasing and production decisions.
 
                                      31

<PAGE>
 
PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
 
  The Company's existing and currently planned Internet-based services
include:
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
     EXISTING
     SERVICES                    LAUNCH DATE                      DESCRIPTION
     --------                    ------------ ---------------------------------------------------
 <S>                             <C>          <C>
 New vehicle                     March 1995   This service offers a cost-effective new vehicle
  marketing                                   purchasing method which allows consumers to submit
  service                                     purchase requests to local dealers who promptly
                                              contact the consumer with a firm, competitive price
                                              over the telephone.
 Insurance                       August 1996  The Company entered into a marketing agreement with
  marketing                                   AIG in August 1996, to provide a vehicle insurance
  service                                     service through the Company's Web site. This
                                              service allows users to submit insurance requests
                                              for quotes online in order to more rapidly arrange
                                              for their personal automobile insurance at
                                              competitive rates.
<CAPTION>
                                 ANTICIPATED
 PLANNED SERVICES                LAUNCH DATE                      DESCRIPTION
 ----------------                ------------ ---------------------------------------------------
 <S>                             <C>          <C>
 Used vehicle                    Q2 1997      This service will allow consumers to purchase high-
  marketing                                   quality used vehicles available at local area
  service                                     dealerships by searching an extensive database of
                                              used vehicles which have been certified to meet
                                              certain Auto-By-Tel standards.
 Financing and leasing services               In October 1996, the Company entered into an
  New vehicles                                agreement with Chase Manhattan, pursuant to which
 . Prime credit                  Q1-Q2 1997   Chase Manhattan will receive online credit
 . Sub-prime credit              Q2 1997      applications from consumers referred by the
 . Leasing                       Q2 1997      Company. In addition, the Company is negotiating
  Used vehicles                               with several leading financial institutions to
 . Prime credit                  Q2 1997      offer financing to new and used vehicle consumers
 . Sub-prime credit              Q2 1997      with sub-prime credit ratings, as well as new and
 . Leasing                       Q2 1997      used vehicle leasing services.
 Credit union                    Q2 1997      The Company intends to launch a customized
  program                                     marketing service to credit unions to assist their
                                              members in purchasing new and used vehicles through
                                              Auto-By-Tel participating dealerships.
 Affinity program                Q3 1997      Consumers may join the Company's affinity program,
  (ABT Mobilist)                              which will provide discounted services, including
                                              roadside assistance programs, discounted travel
                                              products and special credit card programs.
</TABLE>

 
  New vehicle marketing service. Consumers who purchase new vehicles through
the Company's Web site complete a purchase request over the Internet which
specifies the type of vehicle and accessories the consumer desires, along with
the consumer's phone number, e-mail address and zip code. The purchase request
is then forwarded to the Auto-By-Tel participating dealership located in the
consumer's geographic area and the Company promptly returns an e-mail message
to the consumer informing the consumer of the dealership's name and phone
number and the name of the Auto-By-Tel manager at the dealership. Typically,
the consumer is contacted by the dealership by telephone within 48 hours with
a firm, competitive quote for the vehicle, eliminating the unwelcome and time
consuming task of negotiating with the dealer and thus facilitating completion
of the sale. Consumers usually complete their purchase and take delivery of
their vehicles at the dealership showroom. Generally, within 10 days of the
submission of the consumer's purchase request, the Company contacts the
consumer by e-mail requesting completion of a quality assurance survey on the
Company's Web site that is used by the Company and its dealers to improve the
quality of dealer service and allows the Company to evaluate the sales process
at participating dealerships.
 
                                      32

<PAGE>
 
  The Auto-By-Tel network of subscribing dealerships has grown from 367
franchises as of December 31, 1995 to 1,715 franchises as of December 31,
1996. 230 dealers were participating in the Auto-By-Tel program on a non-
paying trial basis as of December 31, 1996. Subscribing dealerships are
charged initial fees, annual fees and monthly fees to participate in the Auto-
By-Tel marketing program. See "Management's Discussion and Analysis of
Financial Condition and Results of Operations--Revenues."
   
  Insurance marketing services. According to Best Executive Data Service, the
United States' market for total written personal auto insurance premiums
totalled $104 billion in 1995. In August 1996, the Company began offering
vehicle insurance to its consumers through an online program with certain
member companies of AIG. Pursuant to its agreement with certain member
companies of AIG, the Company may make automobile insurance available online
in all states other than New Jersey, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South
Carolina, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia. Additionally, the
Company has agreed not to market, or offer Web site access to, any other
insurance underwriter for an initial term of 18 months. This initial term may
be automatically renewed for additional 12 month periods. The Company's Web
site currently offers a direct hyperlink to the specific Web site for such AIG
member companies which enables consumers to submit requests for quotes and,
when the service is fully implemented, be approved for insurance online. The
Company's agreement with AIG provides for fees to the Company to be calculated
as a percentage of the net premiums earned and collected by AIG on policies
issued to Auto-By-Tel consumers.     
 
  Used vehicle marketing service. The market for used vehicles in the United
States was estimated by NADA to be $370 billion in 1995, of which $182 billion
represented sales of used vehicles by new vehicle franchised dealers. This
market has been growing rapidly, due primarily to increasing prices for new
vehicles and the large supply of high-quality, late model used vehicles
created by the recent trend toward short-term leasing. Used vehicle
departments at many dealers are more profitable than new vehicle departments.
 
  The Company intends to leverage its brand name and new vehicle dealership
network by launching similar marketing services for used vehicles during the
first half of 1997. Unlike existing Internet services which act as unwieldy
electronic classified ads, the Auto-By-Tel used vehicle program will display
to consumers a wide selection of vehicles available in the consumer's specific
locale, tailored to their individualized search parameters. This display will
eventually provide warranty and price information on the used vehicle,
including updated retail and wholesale prices and the Auto-By-Tel dealership
price, and, when available, a digital photograph of the used vehicle.
Consumers could then place a purchase request for the used vehicle and would
be contacted by the dealer to conclude the sale.
   
  To ensure that the used vehicles being sold through the service are of the
highest quality, used vehicles must meet Auto-By-Tel certification standards
and dealers must provide a nationwide, limited 90 day warranty. The Company
has contracted with Integrated Warranty Services, Inc. ("IWS") to certify that
each used vehicle meets Auto-By-Tel's minimum certification standards. Such
standards require that a used vehicle's odometer not exceed 75,000 miles, that
there be no visually obvious body damage and that no modifications to the used
vehicle's body or suspension have been made. During the term of its agreement,
IWS has agreed not to provide similar services to most other entities engaged
in marketing or facilitating the sale of used vehicles on the Internet.
Consumers also receive a 72-hour, money-back guarantee on their purchases
which any dealership in the Auto-By-Tel used vehicle program will be required
to honor. Only dealers participating in the new vehicle program will be
eligible to participate in the used vehicle program.     
 
  The Company will charge each new vehicle subscribing dealership that wishes
to participate in the Company's used vehicle program a separate and additional
signup and annual fee per franchise. The Company anticipates that these fees
would initially be lower than those charged in the new vehicle program and is
currently considering charging additional sign-up fees ranging from $1,500 to
$2,500, annual fees ranging from $1,500 to $2,500. In addition, the Company
intends to charge daily listing fees (typically ranging from $1.25 to $2.00)
for each used vehicle marketed on the service which will be priced according
to the number of used vehicles a dealer lists with the Auto-By-Tel program.
 
  Finance and leasing services. The Company intends to make financing
available to consumers purchasing new and used vehicles through the Auto-By-
Tel programs. The Auto-By-Tel financing program will be economical, convenient
and private. Vehicle buyers will be able to apply for a loan online at the
time they submit
 
                                      33

<PAGE>
 
their purchase request for either a new or used vehicle. The Company believes
that the loans and leases offered through its service will be competitive with
those currently available through major financial institutions.
 
  The Auto-By-Tel financing program will benefit lenders, lessors, consumers,
and dealers. Finance companies and dealers will benefit from reduced paperwork
and processing costs. Consumers will be able to arrive at the dealership with
their loan pre-approved, their credit verification documents in hand, and the
loan paperwork waiting for them. This will enable immediate delivery and allow
the dealer to be more rapidly paid by the lender, thereby accelerating the
dealer's cash flow. The Company believes that the convenience of attractive
financing, combined with a firm, competitive price, will increase the closing
rates on sales attributable to Auto-By-Tel purchase request referrals.
 
  In October 1996, the Company entered into an agreement with Chase Manhattan
to receive credit application for new vehicle financing from consumers who
submit purchase requests. This arrangement is intended for consumers with
prime credit ratings. The agreement has a term of three years but may be
terminated sooner by Chase Manhattan with six months' notice or in the event
that Auto-By-Tel fails to refer to Chase Manhattan a prescribed percentage of
loan application requests received by Auto-By-Tel, or the referred loan
applications do not result in a prescribed percentage of loans generated by
Chase Manhattan, or Auto-By-Tel otherwise breaches the agreement. The Company
anticipates that, when the service is implemented, consumers will be able to
access Chase Manhattan's credit applications through the Company's Web site,
submit their loan applications online and, depending on the creditworthiness
of the consumer, have their loan requests approved electronically while they
wait. All responses will be routed simultaneously to the subscribing
dealership. The Auto-By-Tel financing program will enable consumers to receive
up front, competitive loans from the privacy of their home or office,
eliminating the need to negotiate a loan with the traditional car dealership's
F&I (finance and insurance) department or visit their local bank or credit
union. Chase Manhattan will pay the Company an origination fee for most loans
and the dealership will be compensated for each loan made to an Auto-By-Tel
consumer. The Company anticipates that this service will be implemented during
the first half of 1997.
 
  The Company is negotiating with several financial institutions to offer new
and used vehicle leasing programs and financing programs for new and used
vehicle purchasers with sub-prime credit ratings. The Company believes that
origination fees will vary depending on the credit qualifications of
applicants. The Company currently expects to launch a financing program for
consumers with sub-prime credit ratings in the second quarter of 1997. The
Company expects to begin offering leasing for new and used vehicles by the end
of the second quarter of 1997.
 
  Credit Union Program. Auto-By-Tel believes that credit unions, which assist
their members in acquiring and financing new and used vehicles, represent an
attractive market for its marketing services. There are presently about 11,800
credit unions in the U.S. with about 70 million members according to Callahan
and Associates, a recognized authority on the credit union industry. Credit
unions account for $80 billion in vehicle loans outstanding as of June 30,
1996. The Company intends to launch a customized program for credit unions to
assist their members in purchasing new and used vehicles through Auto-By-Tel
participating dealers.
 
  The Company's program is designed to ensure that credit union members
receive the same competitive price and courteous service as the Company's
direct Internet customers, through access to Auto-By-Tel's participating
dealers, while allowing credit unions to provide for the financing needs of
their members. The Company's program will offer several Internet-based
solutions targeted toward credit union members.
 
  Affinity program (ABT Mobilist). In order to offer Auto-By-Tel consumers
additional services and encourage them to regularly revisit the Auto-By-Tel
Web site after purchasing their vehicles, the Company intends to begin
offering an Internet-based affinity program during the third quarter of 1997.
This program, which has been developed in conjunction with an affinity
consulting organization, may include various services, including an affinity
credit card, discount travel products, concierge services, discount cellular
phone service, entertainment services and special promotional offerings on
items such as auto parts. Members will accumulate credits to be applied
towards the purchase of automobiles or trucks through an Auto-By-Tel
subscribing dealer. The Company currently expects that consumers will pay an
annual fee for such programs as well as a small commission each time certain
services are utilized. The Company currently anticipates that the annual fee
to subscribers will range from approximately $39 to $59 depending upon the
level of membership.
 
                                      34

<PAGE>
 
  In order to generate additional revenues, attract more consumers to its Web
site and dealerships to its program and remain competitive, the Company must
successfully develop, market and introduce new services. The Company believes
that to achieve its objectives it will need to generate a substantial portion
of its future revenues from new services. None of these new services has been
fully developed and, in some cases, their introduction has been delayed due to
difficulties in software development encountered by the Company's Internet
partners. For example, the development of an Internet-based system to receive
and respond to loan applications was delayed due to difficulties in installing
desired encryption (a method by which information is coded and decoded during
transmission to prevent misappropriation) hardware and difficulties
experienced when testing the financing program with older Internet browser
software and the older Windows version 3.11 operating environment. There can
be no assurance that the Company will successfully develop or introduce these
new services, that such services will achieve market acceptance or that
subscribing dealerships will not view such new services as competitive to
services already offered by such dealerships. For example, consumers may be
reticent to purchase insurance or procure vehicle financing online. Also, it
may be more difficult to educate consumers as to the value of locating used
vehicles for purchase through the Internet since used vehicle purchases are
generally thought to require a greater level of hands-on involvement in the
inspection and purchase of a used vehicle. The Company intends to incur
additional expenses to develop and successfully market such services. To the
extent that revenues generated by such additional services are insufficient to
cover such expenses, the Company's operating results would be adversely
affected. Should the Company fail to develop and successfully market these
services, or should competitors successfully introduce competing services, the
Company's business, results of operations, and financial condition may be
materially and adversely affected.
 
MARKETING AND SALES
 
  The Company believes that enhancing its national brand name recognition and
position as a leading Internet-based marketing service is critical to its
efforts to increase the number of purchase requests and subscribing
dealerships. The growing number of Web sites which offer competing services
and the relatively low barriers to entry in providing Internet services
increase the importance of establishing and maintaining brand name
recognition.
   
  In order to enhance brand name awareness, the Company aggressively markets
its services to vehicle consumers and Internet users by advertising on the
Internet, in print media and on television. The Company has established
marketing programs with many of the leading automotive information providers
on the Internet, including AutoSite, Edmund's and Microsoft CarPoint. The
Company's agreements with automotive information providers typically have
terms ranging from one to three years, but some are cancellable with 30 days
notice. Microsoft may terminate its marketing agreement with the Company at
any time if it determines, in its sole discretion, that the Company's or its
dealers' services jeopardize Microsoft's good name or expose it to
unacceptable legal risks. In addition, Microsoft may terminate such agreement
without cause upon 30 days' prior written notice. Under the agreements, Auto-
By-Tel typically pays the automotive information provider a monthly fee based
on the number of users who submit Auto-By-Tel purchase requests. In 1996, the
Company incurred expenses related to automotive information providers of
approximately $630,000. The Company has established a relationship with
Edmund's, a leading source of online automobile and light truck price and
model information. Consumers are sometimes referred to Auto-By-Tel from
Edmund's. At other times, consumers will begin at the Auto-By-Tel Web site and
will be hyperlinked to the Edmund's Web site to obtain price and model
information, before returning to Auto-By-Tel to submit a purchase request. The
Company pays Edmund's a fee based on the aggregate number of referred and
returning consumers submitting a purchase request. In 1996, approximately
170,000 consumers who eventually submitted purchase requests with Auto-By-Tel
either were referred to the Company from Edmund's, or went to the Edmund's
site and then returned to Auto-By-Tel. Edmund's may terminate its agreement
with the Company if fees payable to Edmund's are less than $500,000 in fiscal
1997. While the Company expects the number of referrals and returning
consumers from the Edmund's Web site to remain significant, the percentage of
consumers entering from or visiting Edmund's during an Auto-By-Tel session has
decreased in the past several months due to (i) the availability of other
automobile information web sites, (ii) Auto-By-Tel's new practice of referring
consumers to an alternate automobile information provider, and (iii) the
Company's marketing efforts to encourage consumers beginning their automobile
purchasing     
 
                                      35

<PAGE>
 
sessions at the Company's Web site. Nevertheless, given the current level of
consumers accessing the Company from Edmund's, a change or termination in the
Edmund's arrangement could have a material adverse effect on the Company's
business, results of operations and financial condition. See "Management's
Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" and
"Business--Strategy."
 
  Auto-By-Tel continues to position itself as the leading vehicle and related
consumer services marketing program with major online services, such as
America Online's Digital Cities, CompuServe and Prodigy, and major Internet
search engine companies such as Excite, Magellan, and Web Crawler. The Company
believes that its comprehensive coverage of these Internet sites helps to
increase purchase request volume and will remain a critical element of the
Company's future business. Advertising agreements with these online service
providers and search engine companies are generally short-term contracts or
are otherwise cancelable on short notice. Payments under these agreements have
not been material to date. While no single online or search engine company has
individually accounted for material leads to the Company, these companies as a
group are a
material source of Internet referrals's to the Auto-By-Tel web site and the
Company believes an inability to continue advertising on online service
provider or search engine websites would adversely affect the Company.
 
  The Company supplements its coverage of Internet referral sources with
traditional print advertising. The Company has historically focused on
computer user and hobbyist publications and major automotive magazines. The
Company advertises in publications such as Car & Driver, Motor Trend, Road &
Track, and their respective buyers guides, as well as magazines such as
Internet World, OnLine Access and CompuServe to direct traffic to its Web
site. The Company has begun to expand this marketing with a campaign to
accelerate awareness of the Auto-By-Tel brand name and drive traffic to its
Web site through television ads featured on the CNN and MSNBC networks and
C/NET television programs. In the fourth quarter of 1996, the Company
commenced advertising on cable television and, in the first quarter of 1997,
launched national network television advertising (including a 30 second
commercial during the broadcast of the Super Bowl).
 
  The revolutionary nature of the Company's program compared to traditional
vehicle sales methods has also resulted in a significant amount of unpaid
media coverage. To date, the Company has been the subject of over 500
newspaper, magazine, radio and television stories. Articles about the
Company's new vehicle program have appeared in BusinessWeek, Fortune, Time,
and the Wall Street Journal. Television stories featuring the Company have
been aired on the NBC Nightly News and CNN. The Company believes that the
initial media coverage has been an important element in creating consumer
awareness of the Auto-By-Tel program and contributed to early dealership
subscriptions to the program.
 
  In addition to its consumer-oriented marketing activities, which help to
attract participating dealerships, the Company also markets its programs
directly to dealerships by soliciting targeted dealerships, participating in
trade shows, advertising in trade publications, and encouraging subscribing
dealerships to recommend the Auto-By-Tel program to other dealerships.
 
                                      36

<PAGE>
 
DEALERSHIP NETWORK AND TRAINING

                             [CHART APPEARS HERE]

Paying Franchises           0   38   111   253   546     728     978   1,206
Non-Paying Franchises       0   15    43   114   308     380     474     509
                          ---  ---   ---   ---   ---   -----   -----   -----
*Total Subscribing          0   53   154   367   854   1,108   1,452   1,715
                          ===  ===   ===   ===   ===   =====   =====   =====
- --------
* Does not include dealers who were participating on a trial basis. As of
  December 31, 1996, the Company had approximately 230 non-paying, trial
  dealers.
 
  As of December 31, 1996 the Company's participating dealership base
consisted of (i) 1,206 paying franchises of subscribing dealerships, (ii) 509
non-paying franchises affiliated with paying subscribing dealerships and (iii)
approximately 230 "trial dealers." A subscribing dealership is comprised of
one or more franchises with typically high volume vehicle sales (such as Ford
or Toyota). A subscribing dealership may sell vehicles from multiple
manufacturers and therefore have multiple subscribing dealer franchises.
Dealerships pay initial, annual and monthly fees per franchise to subscribe to
the Company's online marketing program. Non-paying franchises are typically
associated with lower-volume vehicle manufacturers (such as Audi, Saab or
Suzuki) and receive purchase request referrals without paying fees to Auto-By-
Tel. The non-paying franchise is typically affiliated with a paying franchise
participating in the Auto-By-Tel program. (For example, a paying Ford
dealership may also have a Volvo franchise at the same premises and this Volvo
franchise would be enrolled as a non-paying franchise and receive Auto-By-Tel
referrals without paying an additional fee.) The Company enters into
agreements with non-paying franchises to ensure that it is able to serve the
broadest base of customers and its geographic for the make of vehicle
represented by the non-paying franchise. Accommodating non-paying franchises
also allows Auto-By-Tel to offer additional benefit to its dealership network
and represents a potential source of additional financing and insurance
revenue. In addition, the Company may begin charging marketing fees to a non-
paying franchise which begins to receive a sufficient
 
                                      37

<PAGE>
 
number of purchase requests. The Company enters into informal arrangements
with potential dealership participants on a trial basis in order to assist the
Company and the dealership in evaluating the effectiveness of the Auto-By-Tel
program at such dealerships. The Company refers consumers to trial dealerships
but does not collect fees. As of December 31, 1996, approximately 230
dealerships were participating on a trial basis. In order to better serve
consumers, the Company intends to significantly increase the number of
participating North American dealership franchises by the end of fiscal 1998,
but there can be no assurance that it will be able to do so.
 
  Although the number of the Company's subscribing dealerships has increased
in every quarter since the Company's inception, the Company periodically
terminates agreements or relationships with subscribing dealerships when the
Company receives repeated complaints from consumers regarding dealer sales
practices that conflict with the Auto-By-Tel marketing program. Currently,
less than half of subscribing dealerships have entered into written agreements
with the Company. Dealership marketing agreements have a five year term but
are cancelable by either party with 30 days notice. From inception through
February 28, 1997, the loss of paying dealerships due to terminations by the
Company and cancellations by dealerships totaled 85 and 145 franchises
respectively. This represented a termination attrition rate of 6.8% from
inception through February 28, 1997 (85 terminated paying dealerships divided
by a high of 1,256 paying dealerships during the period) and a cancellation
attrition rate of 11.5% from inception through February 28, 1997 (145
cancelling paying dealerships divided by a high of 1,256 paying dealerships
during the period). These losses were more than offset by new subscribing
dealerships during the same period.
 
  In December 1996, the Company commenced an effort to have all subscribing
dealerships execute written marketing agreements with the Company which have
been revised to provide, among other things, that such dealerships will not
participate with any other program with attributes similar to those of the
Auto-By-Tel program. At the same time, the Company has begun a program to have
all subscribing dealerships enter into written marketing agreements relating
to the Auto-By-Tel financing program. As of March 11, 1997, approximately 48%
and 26% of all subscribing dealerships had signed the revised marketing
agreement and the financing agreement, respectively. Some of the Company's
dealers have resisted signing written agreements. Among the reasons cited by
dealerships in resisting entering into written agreements are: (i) the
exclusivity provision of the revised form of agreement which requires that
dealerships not participate in any other Internet-based or online program with
attributes similar to those of the Auto-By-Tel program, (ii) the
indemnification provisions which require dealerships to indemnify Auto-By-Tel
under certain circumstances, (iii) concerns by dealerships that by signing a
written agreement they will surrender control of the rates they will be
charged by Auto-By-Tel, and (iv) concerns over the California choice of law
and venue provisions in the agreement. There can be no assurance that the
Company will be able to convince subscribing dealerships to enter into written
agreements with the Company or revise their existing agreements or that the
Company's efforts to cause subscribing dealerships to revise their agreements
will not result in subscribing dealerships terminating their relationship with
Auto-By-Tel.
 
  In addition, should the volume of purchase requests increase, the Company
anticipates that it will need to reduce the size of the exclusive territories
currently allocated to dealerships in order to serve consumers more
effectively. Dealers may be unwilling to accept reductions in the size of
their territories and may, therefore, terminate their relationship, refuse to
execute formal agreements with the Company or decide not to join the Company's
marketing program. A material decrease in the number of subscribing
dealerships, or slower than expected growth in the number of subscribing
dealerships, could have a material adverse effect on the Company's business,
results of operations or financial condition. The Company may also become
unable to refer an adequate number of consumers to participating dealerships.
There can be no assurance that the Company will be able to continue to attract
additional dealerships and retain existing dealerships.
 
  Auto-By-Tel dealerships are located in every major metropolitan area in the
United States and Canada. In December 1996, the Company's computer systems
were able to match and electronically route 92% of total purchase requests to
participating dealerships. The remaining 8% of purchase requests were received
from consumers in unassigned territories and were manually assigned and
subsequently electronically routed to
 
                                      38

<PAGE>
 
dealers. Auto-By-Tel dealerships are often leaders in their respective
markets. Of the ten largest dealership holding companies (according to the
Automotive News 1996 Data Book), eight participate in the Company's new
vehicle marketing program at some level. Size is not always a sufficient
criterion, however, in the selection of Auto-By-Tel participating dealers.
Auto-By-Tel is only interested in establishing relationships with dealers
which share the Company's commitment to improving consumer service in the
vehicle retailing industry. To meet this goal, the Company requests that
participating dealerships have their representatives trained in the Auto-By-
Tel marketing program, dedicate electronic and human resources to the Auto-By-
Tel system and comply with the Auto-By-Tel guidelines of rapid consumer
response, full disclosure, competitive and up-front pricing communicated by
telephone and the selection of an employee to be the dedicated Auto-By-Tel
manager. To further increase consumer satisfaction and reduce dealership
costs, the Company discourages dealerships from using commissioned
salespersons and the accompanying layers of personnel to interface with Auto-
By-Tel consumers.
 
  The Company trains Auto-By-Tel dealers over the telephone, via satellite
seminars, at the Company's headquarters in Irvine, California, at regional
training centers and at dealerships' premises. The Company's staff strives to
shift dealer salespersons away from traditional vehicle selling techniques and
to the Auto-By-Tel approach. Special emphasis is placed upon telephone skills
and addressing consumer questions and concerns. Generally, within ten days of
the submission of a vehicle purchase request, the Company contacts the
consumer by e-mail requesting completion of a quality assurance survey on the
Company's Web site that is used by the Company and dealers to improve the
quality of dealer service and allows the Company to evaluate the sales process
at participating dealers. Dealerships that fail to abide by the Auto-By-Tel
program or who receive repeated consumer complaints are terminated from the
Auto-By-Tel program.
 
  Auto-By-Tel participating dealerships are assigned exclusive territories
based upon specific zip codes. Auto-By-Tel assigned regions tend to be larger
than the traditional dealership region assigned by automobile manufacturers,
in order to allow the Company to generate sufficiently high volume to the
subscribing dealership to make participation in the Auto-By-Tel program
attractive. Pursuant to an agreement with the Texas Department of
Transportation, Auto-By-Tel cannot effectively guarantee exclusive territories
to dealerships located in Texas, and dealership sign-up and annual fees in
Texas are required to be uniform while monthly fees are based solely on
population density in a given zip code.
 
COMPETITION
 
  The Company's vehicle purchasing services compete against a variety of
Internet and traditional vehicle buying services and automotive brokers. In
the Internet-based market, the Company competes for attention with other
entities which maintain similar commercial Web sites. The Company also
competes indirectly against vehicle brokerage firms and affinity programs
offered by several companies, including Price Costco and Wal-Mart. Like the
Company's services, the services offered by competing Web sites, automotive
brokerage firms and affinity programs seek to increase consumer satisfaction
and reduce vehicle purchasing costs.
 
  Although the Company does not currently compete directly with vehicle
dealers and manufacturers, such competition would arise in the future if
dealers and manufacturers introduced competing Web sites or developed
cooperative relationships among themselves or with online automotive
information providers. Moreover, the Company's ability to achieve its
objectives would be adversely affected if dealers and manufacturers adopted a
low cost, firm price sales model similar to that facilitated by the Auto-By-
Tel program.
 
  The market for Internet-based commercial services is new and competition
among commercial Web sites is expected to increase significantly in the
future. The Internet is characterized by minimal barriers to entry, and
current and new competitors can launch new Web sites at relatively low cost.
Potential competitors could include, but are not limited to, automotive
information service providers, vehicle manufacturers and new and used vehicle
dealers. In order to compete successfully as an Internet commerce entity, the
Company must significantly increase awareness of the Company and its brand
name, effectively market its services and successfully differentiate its Web
site. Many of the Company's current and potential competitors have longer
operating histories, greater name recognition and significantly greater
financial and marketing resources than the
 
                                      39

<PAGE>
 
Company. Such competitors could undertake more aggressive and costly marketing
campaigns than the Company which may adversely affect the Company's marketing
strategies which could have a material adverse effect on the Company's
business, results of operations or financial condition.
 
  In addition, as the Company introduces new services, it will compete
directly with a greater number of companies, including vehicle insurers,
lenders and lessors as well as used vehicle superstores, such as CarMax and
Auto Nation. Such companies may already maintain or may introduce Web sites
which compete with that of the Company. There can be no assurance that the
Company can continue to compete successfully against current or future
competitors nor can there be any assurance that competitive pressures faced by
the Company will not result in increased marketing costs, decreased Internet
traffic or loss of market share or otherwise will not materially adversely
affect its business, results of operations and financial condition.
 
  The Company believes that the principal competitive factors affecting the
market for Internet-based vehicle marketing services are the speed and quality
of service execution, the size and effectiveness of the participating
dealership base, competitive dealer pricing, successful marketing and
establishment of national brand name recognition, positioning itself as a
leading Internet-based marketing service, the volume and quality of traffic to
and purchase requests from a Web site and the ability to introduce new
services in a timely and cost-effective manner. Although the Company believes
that it currently competes favorably with respect to such factors, there can
be no assurance that the Company will be able to compete successfully against
current or future competitors with respect to any of these factors.
 
OPERATIONS AND TECHNOLOGY; FACILITIES
 
  The Company believes that its future success is significantly dependent on
its ability to continuously improve the speed and reliability of its Web site,
enhance communications functionality with its consumers and dealers and
maintain the highest-level of information privacy and transactional security.
The Company maintains all of its own Web server hosting functions and, to
accelerate connectivity, has installed two 1.54 Mbps T-1 lines for outbound
traffic and a 6 Mbps fractional DS/3 line for inbound traffic. The Company has
also recently upgraded its routers and has installed firewall technology to
protect its private network. Continuous system enhancements are primarily
intended to accommodate increased traffic across the Company's Web site,
improve the speed with which purchase requests are processed and heighten Web
site security which will be increasingly important as the Company offers new
services such as vehicle insurance and financing. System enhancements entail
the implementation of sophisticated new technology and system processes and
there can be no assurance that such continuous enhancements may not result in
unanticipated system disruptions. For example, since April 1, 1996, the
Company has experienced three periods of system downtime with an average
downtime of approximately three hours due to power loss and telecommunications
failures, and there can be no assurance that interruptions will not recur.
Although the Company maintains redundant local offsite backup servers, all of
the Company's primary servers are located at its corporate headquarters and
are vulnerable to interruption by damage from fire, earthquake, power loss,
telecommunications failure and other events beyond the Company's control. The
Company is in the process of developing comprehensive out-of-state disaster
recovery plans to safeguard dealer and consumer information. The Company
maintains business interruption insurance which pays up to $1,000,000
($333,333 monthly limit) for the actual loss of business income sustained due
to the suspension of operations as a result of direct physical loss of or
damage to property at the Company's offices. However, in the event of a
prolonged interruption, it is probable that this business interruption
insurance will not be sufficient to fully compensate the Company. In the event
that the Company experiences significant system disruptions, the Company's
business, results of operations or financial condition could be materially and
adversely affected.
 
  The Company recently implemented its proprietary Dealer Realtime System, a
personal computer-based network which allows participating dealers to receive
consumer purchase requests online shortly after submission by consumers.
Historically, all purchase requests were transmitted through the Company's fax
server to dealers. By complementing the fax server (a computer which transmits
and routes facsimile transmissions) process, the Dealer Realtime System, is
designed to shorten dealer response time to consumers. The successful
implementation of the Dealer Realtime System requires the active support of
the Company's dealership base. To
 
                                      40

<PAGE>
 
receive consumer purchase requests online, dealers must purchase or lease the
Dealer Realtime System and train, under the Company's guidance, their
personnel. There can be no assurance that all or most dealerships will acquire
the Dealer Realtime System or adopt the skills necessary to effectively use
this system.
 
  In addition, the Company has developed and intends to further develop its
proprietary client/server database applications which allow consumers to
search and display used vehicle information. Such database applications allow
Auto-By-Tel dealerships to upload their inventory, including digitized
photographs of vehicles, to the Company's used vehicle database. Dealerships
participating in the Company's Dealer Realtime System will already have
acquired the equipment necessary to participate in the used vehicle marketing
program. As of January 30, 1997, 118 subscribing dealerships have acquired the
Dealer Realtime System. There can be no assurance that Auto-By-Tel dealerships
will agree to invest in the Dealer Realtime System, or pay the associated
monthly maintenance charges on a timely basis, or at all.
 
  The Company has developed and intends to further enhance systems which allow
consumers to complete and securely transmit online loan applications which
will be forwarded by the Company to the appropriate lender. The Company
anticipates launching these services during the first quarter of 1997.
   
  In addition, the Company is currently in the process of completing a
conversion to a redundant client/server SQL database platform which involves
the integration of several different internal databases used to handle the
Company's consumer and dealer information and transmission requirements as
well as the Company's financial, accounting and record-keeping requirements.
In addition to increasing the overall efficiency of the Company's operations,
the Company anticipates that these new integrated systems could enable Auto-
By-Tel to develop and market new and strategically targeted database services.
No assurance can be given that the implementation of this new platform will
not result in disruptions to the Company's business, such as the loss of data,
errors in purchase request transmissions, delays in the Company's ability to
effect periodic closings of its accounting records and other similar problems.
Any such disruptions or any failure to successfully implement this new
information system in a timely manner could have a material adverse effect on
the Company's business, results of operations or financial condition. In
addition, interruptions at the Company's Internet referral sources could
reduce the level of referrals to the Company's Web site. For example, in the
Company's agreement with AutoSite, AutoSite expressly disclaims any
representation that their referral will be uninterrupted or error free.     
 
  The Company's services may be vulnerable to break-ins and similar disruptive
problems caused by Internet users. Further, weaknesses in the Internet may
compromise the security of confidential electronic information exchanged
across the Internet. This includes, but is not limited to, the security of the
physical network and security of the physical machines used for the
information transfer. Any such flaws in the Internet or the end-user
environment, or weaknesses or vulnerabilities in the Company's services or the
licensed technology incorporated in such service, would jeopardize the
confidential nature of information transmitted over the Internet and could
require the Company to expend significant financial and human resources to
protect against future breaches, if any, in order to alleviate or mitigate
problems caused by such security breaches. Concerns over the security of
Internet transactions and the privacy of users may also inhibit the growth of
the Internet generally, particularly as a means of conducting commercial
transactions. To the extent that activities of the Company, or third party
contractors, involve the storage and transmission of proprietary information
(such as personal financial information or credit card numbers), security
breaches could expose the Company to a risk of financial loss or litigation or
other liabilities. Any such occurrence could reduce consumer satisfaction in
the Company's services and could have a material adverse effect on the
Company's business, results of operations or financial condition.
 
  The Company's success and ability to compete is dependent in part upon its
proprietary systems and technology. While the Company relies on trademark,
trade secret and copyright laws to protect its proprietary rights, the Company
believes that the technical and creative skills of its personnel, continued
development of its proprietary systems and technology, brand name recognition
and reliable Web site maintenance are more essential in establishing and
maintaining a leadership position. Despite the Company's efforts to protect
its proprietary rights, unauthorized parties may attempt to copy aspects of
the Company's services or to obtain and use information that the Company
regards as proprietary. Policing unauthorized use of the Company's
 
                                      41

<PAGE>
 
proprietary rights is difficult. In addition, litigation may be necessary in
the future to enforce or protect the Company's intellectual property rights or
to defend against claims of infringement or invalidity. Misappropriation of
the Company's intellectual property or potential litigation could have a
material adverse effect on the Company's business, results of operations or
financial condition.
 
  All of the Company's operations are centrally located in approximately
13,700 square feet of office space in Irvine, California. Approximately 12,300
square feet is leased through August 1, 2001, and the Company has the option
to renew this lease for an additional five-year period. Approximately 1,400
square feet is separately leased under a sublease through April 30, 1997.
 
GOVERNMENT REGULATION
 
  The Company believes that its dealer marketing service does not qualify as a
brokerage activity and, therefore, that the Company does not need to comply
with state broker licensing requirements. In Texas, however, the Company was
required to modify its marketing program to include a pricing model under
which subscribing dealerships are charged uniform fees based on the population
density of their particular geographic area and to make its program open to
all dealerships who wish to apply. In the event that individual state
regulatory requirements change or additional requirements are imposed on the
Company, the Company may be required to modify its marketing programs in such
states in a manner which may undermine the program's attractiveness to
consumers or dealers. In addition, in the event that a state deems that the
Company is acting as a broker, the Company may be required to comply with
burdensome licensing requirements of such state or terminate operations in
such state. In each case, the Company's business, results of operations or
financial condition could be materially and adversely affected.
 
  The Company's marketing service may result in changes in the way new and
used vehicles are sold which may be deemed to be threatening by new and used
vehicle dealers who do not subscribe to the Auto-By-Tel program. Such
businesses are often represented by influential lobbying organizations, and
such organizations may seek to introduce legislation which may impact the
evolving marketing and distribution model which the Company's service
promotes. Should legislative or legal challenges be brought successfully by
such organizations, the Company's business, results of operations or financial
condition could be materially and adversely affected.
 
  As the Company introduces new services, the Company may need to comply with
additional licensing regulations and regulatory requirements. For example, the
Company recently obtained an insurance brokerage license in California and has
begun procuring insurance brokerage licenses in other states to ensure
compliance with applicable insurance regulations, if any, of such states. In
addition, the Company is currently in the process of applying for financial
brokers' licenses in those states in which the Company believes such licenses
are required. Becoming licensed may be an expensive and time-consuming process
which could divert the efforts of management. In the event that the Company
does not successfully become licensed under applicable state insurance or
lending rules or otherwise comply with regulations necessitated by changes in
current regulations or the introduction of new services, the Company's
business, results of operations or financial condition could be materially and
adversely affected.
 
  Additionally, there are currently few laws or regulations directly
applicable to access to or commerce on the Internet. However, due to the
increasing popularity and use of the Internet, it is likely that a number of
laws and regulations may be adopted at the local, state, national or
international levels with respect to commerce over the Internet, potentially
covering issues such as pricing of services and products, advertising, user
privacy and expression, intellectual property, information security, anti-
competitive practices or the convergence of traditional distribution channels
with Internet commerce. In addition, tax authorities in a number of states are
currently reviewing the appropriate tax treatment of companies engaged in
Internet commerce. New state tax regulations may subject the Company to
additional state sales and income taxes. The adoption of any such laws or
regulations may decrease the growth of Internet usage or the acceptance of
Internet commerce which could, in turn, decrease the demand for the Company's
services and increase the Company's costs or otherwise have a material adverse
effect on the Company's business, results of operations or financial
condition.
 
                                      42

<PAGE>
 
EMPLOYEES
 
  The Company experienced significant growth in employment during 1996, and as
of December 31, 1996, the Company had a total of 73 employees (including two
in Canada), compared to 17 employees as of December 31, 1995. Employees as of
December 31, 1996 included nine in management, 41 in marketing, selling,
training and support, 11 engaged in technical activities and 12 administrative
employees. The Company also employs independent contractors for software and
hardware development, which totaled 17 people as of December 31, 1996. None of
the Company's employees is represented by a labor union. The Company has not
experienced any work stoppages and considers its relations with its employees
to be good.
 
  The Company's rapid growth has placed, and is expected to continue to place,
a significant strain on the Company's managerial and technical resources. The
Company's future success depends in significant part upon the continued
service of its key technical and senior management personnel and its
continuing ability to attract and retain qualified sales, marketing, technical
and managerial personnel. As the Company introduces new services, it will need
to hire a significant number of additional managerial, sales, marketing and
technical personnel. Competition for qualified personnel is intense and there
can be no assurance that the Company will be able to retain its key employees
or that it will be able to attract and retain additional highly qualified
personnel in the future.
 
  The Company's performance is substantially dependent on the performance of
its executive officers and key employees, all of whom are employed on an at-
will basis and many of whom have worked together for only a short period of
time. The Company maintains "key person" life insurance in the amount of $7.5
million on the life of Peter R. Ellis, the Company's President and Chief
Executive Officer. However, the loss of the services of Mr. Ellis or one or
more of the Company's other executive officers or key employees would likely
have a material adverse effect on the business, results of operations and
financial condition of the Company. See "Management."
 
                                      43

<PAGE>
 

                                  MANAGEMENT
 
EXECUTIVE OFFICERS, DIRECTORS AND OTHER KEY EMPLOYEES
 
  The following table sets forth certain information with respect to the
executive officers, directors and other key employees of the Company.
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
 EXECUTIVE OFFICERS AND
       DIRECTORS          AGE                             POSITION
 ----------------------   ---                             --------
<S>                       <C> <C>
Peter R. Ellis..........   50 President, Chief Executive Officer and Director
John C. Bedrosian.......   62 Chairman of the Board
W. Randolph Ellspermann.   50 Senior Vice President of the Company and Chief Operating Officer
                               of Auto-By-Tel Acceptance Corporation
Robert S. Grimes........   53 Executive Vice President and Director
Mark W. Lorimer.........   37 Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary
Michael J. Lowell.......   38 Senior Vice President of the Company and Chief Operating Officer
                               of Auto-By-Tel Marketing Corporation
Brian B. MacDonald......   39 Vice President Finance and Treasurer
John M. Markovich.......   40 Senior Vice President Finance and Chief Financial Officer
Jeffrey H. Coats (1)(2).   39 Director
Michael Fuchs(1)(2).....   51 Director
<CAPTION>
  OTHER KEY EMPLOYEES
  -------------------
<S>                       <C> <C>
Thomas J. Ciresa........   55 Director of Used Vehicle Development and Canada Operations
Jacqueline A. Dufort....   35 Chief Technology Officer
John P. Honiotes........   49 National Sales Director
</TABLE>

 
- --------
(1) Member of the Audit Committee.
(2) Member of the Compensation Committee.
 
  Peter R. Ellis co-founded the Company and has been President and Chief
Executive Officer since its inception. Mr. Ellis has extensive experience in
the automobile retailing industry. From June 1993 to December 1993, Mr. Ellis
served as Chairman of PEAC Corporation, a retail used vehicle business. From
August 1973 to May 1991, Mr. Ellis was a controlling stockholder and served as
President of P.R. Ellis Corp. (formerly known as CAJ Corporation), a holding
corporation for several companies which owned and operated automobile
dealerships and related businesses in Northern and Southern California and
Arizona. Mr. Ellis' corporations guaranteed in the ordinary course of business
loans made to vehicle purchasers, and, in 1985, the principal amount
outstanding under such guaranteed loans reached an aggregate of approximately
$80 million. As a result of higher than industry standard defaults by vehicle
purchasers in subsequent years, Mr. Ellis' corporations, which then owned
three dealerships, were required to expend significant cash to satisfy these
guarantees. In the early 1990's, vehicle sales decreased significantly as a
result of the then ongoing recession in California. The effects of the
recession, when combined with poor working capital, had a severe impact on Mr.
Ellis' dealership operations. During this period, Mr. Ellis personally
guaranteed additional capital and inventory loans with an aggregate principal
amount in excess of $40 million on behalf of three dealerships. In 1991, Mr.
Ellis closed the three remaining dealerships due to ongoing financial
difficulties. As a result, certain company loans were defaulted. Subsequently,
in response to a creditor's proceedings, Mr. Ellis declared personal
bankruptcy under Chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in January
1994. All outstanding debts were discharged in August 1994 by order of the
Bankruptcy Court.
 
  John C. Bedrosian co-founded the Company and has been Chairman of the Board
since its inception. Since September 1993, Mr. Bedrosian has been engaged in
personal investing activities. From August 1985 to September 1993, Mr.
Bedrosian was Senior Executive Vice President of National Medical Enterprises
("NME"), a hospital management company. Mr. Bedrosian holds a B.S. from the
University of California, Los Angeles and an LL.B. from the University of
Southern California. Mr. Bedrosian also served on the Board of
 
                                      44

<PAGE>
 
NME from 1976 to September 1994. In 1992, the U.S. Attorney's office commenced
an investigation of a subsidiary of NME for alleged Medicare and Medicaid
billing improprieties. In June 1994, NME reached an out of court settlement
with the U.S. Department of Justice paying fines and penalties of $379
million. Mr. Bedrosian was not involved in these proceedings. In addition, in
1995, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") commenced an
examination into potential improper disclosures made by NME in its periodic
reports filed in 1991. Mr. Bedrosian and eight former employees appeared
before the SEC to give testimony relating to the exercise of employee stock
options and disposition of the underlying shares during this period. To date,
the SEC has taken no further action.
 
  W. Randolph Ellspermann joined the Company in July 1996 as Chief Operating
Officer of Auto-By-Tel Acceptance Corporation and, in January 1997, was
appointed a Senior Vice President of the Company. Mr. Ellspermann also serves
as Chief Operating Officer of Auto-By-Tel Insurance Services, Inc. From
November 1993 to June 1996, Mr. Ellspermann was employed by Mark III
Industries, a van conversion company, where he last served as Chief Operating
and Financial Officer. From June 1986 to June 1993, Mr. Ellspermann served at
subsidiaries of Security Pacific Corporation, including five years as Chief
Executive Officer of Security Pacific Information Services and two years as
Chief Financial Officer of Security Pacific Auto Finance. Mr. Ellspermann's
background also includes 13 years with Ford Motor Company and Ford Motor
Credit Company in a variety of finance and management positions.
Mr. Ellspermann holds a B.S. in Industrial Management from Purdue University
and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Michigan.
 
  Robert S. Grimes has been a director of the Company since inception and has
served as Executive Vice President since July 1996. Since September 1987, Mr.
Grimes has been President of R.S. Grimes & Co., Inc., an investment company.
From April 1981 to March 1987, Mr. Grimes was a partner with the investment
firm of Cowen & Company. Mr. Grimes holds a B.S. from the Wharton School of
Commerce and Finance at the University of Pennsylvania and an LL.B. from the
University of Pennsylvania Law School.
 
  Mark W. Lorimer joined the Company in December 1996 as Vice President,
General Counsel and Secretary. From January 1996 to November 1996, Mr. Lorimer
was a partner and, from March 1989 to January 1996, was an associate with the
law firm of Dewey Ballantine. Mr. Lorimer holds a B.S. in Speech from
Northwestern University and a J.D. from the Fordham University School of Law.
 
  Michael J. Lowell joined the Company in October 1996 as Chief Operating
Officer of Auto-By-Tel Marketing Corporation and, in January 1997, was also
appointed a Senior Vice President of the Company. From March 1995 to November
1996, Mr. Lowell served as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Alpha
Microsystems, a publicly-held computer hardware and software developer. From
February 1990 to March 1995, Mr. Lowell held various financial and management
positions, most recently as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, with
Wahlco Environmental Systems, Inc. ("Wahlco"), a publicly-held manufacturer of
environment control equipment. From February 1987 to February 1990, Mr. Lowell
served in various management and financial positions, most recently as Vice
President and Treasurer, with Pacific Diversified Capital Company, a
diversified holding company, the investments of which included a controlling
interest in Wahlco. Prior to working with Wahlco, Mr. Lowell held various
positions with Ducommun, Inc., a publicly-held manufacturer and distributor of
electronic components. Mr. Lowell holds a B.S. in Finance from California
State University at Long Beach and a Masters of Business Administration from
the University of San Diego.
 
  Brian B. MacDonald joined the Company in October 1995 as Chief Financial
Officer and Manager, was appointed Vice President in May 1996 and was
appointed Vice President Finance and Treasurer in January 1997. From April
1990 to October 1994, Mr. MacDonald served as Controller for all of the
subsidiaries of Long Beach Bank, F.S.B. and from December 1992 to October 1994
also managed the operations of the bank's insurance subsidiary. From September
1983 to January 1990, Mr. MacDonald worked at Price Waterhouse L.L.P. in a
variety of divisions, including their audit and high-technology divisions. Mr.
MacDonald holds a B.S. in Business from the University of Southern California.
 
  John M. Markovich joined the Company in January 1997 as Senior Vice
President Finance and Chief Financial Officer. From April 1995 to January
1997, Mr. Markovich served as Vice President Finance and Chief
 
                                      45

<PAGE>
 
Financial Officer of Optical Coating Laboratory, Inc., a publicly-held
manufacturer of thin film coated optical products. From May 1993 to February
1995, Mr. Markovich served as Vice President Finance and Chief Financial
Officer of Electrosci, Inc., an early stage environmental technology company,
and from July 1992 to May 1993, he was Vice President and Chief Financial
Officer of the Norden Fruit Company. From August 1987 to February 1992, Mr.
Markovich served as Vice President and Treasurer of Western Digital
Corporation, a publicly-held multinational electronics manufacturer.
Previously, Mr. Markovich worked for Citibank, N.A. as a corporate banking
officer in the bank's high technology group. Mr. Markovich holds a B.S. in
General Business from Miami University and a Masters of Business
Administration from Michigan State University.
 
  Jeffrey H. Coats was elected a director of the Company on August 27, 1996.
Mr. Coats has served as Managing Director of GE Equity Capital Group, Inc., a
wholly-owned subsidiary of General Electric Capital Corporation, a significant
shareholder in the Company, since April 1996. He was also a Managing Director
of GE Capital Corporate Finance Group, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of
General Electric Capital Corporation, from June 1987 to April 1993. From March
1994 to April 1996, Mr. Coats served as President of Maverick Capital Equity
Partners, LLC, and from April 1993 to January 1994, Mr. Coats was a partner
with Veritas Capital, Inc., both of which are investment firms. Mr. Coats
holds a B.B.A. in Finance from the University of Georgia and a Masters in
Industrial Management in Finance from the American Graduate School of
International Management. Mr. Coats is a director and Chairman of the Board of
The Hastings Group, Inc., a privately held clothing retailer, which on October
23, 1995, filed a voluntary petition under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code
and is currently in the process of formulating a plan of reorganization. Mr.
Coats is a member of the board of directors of Krause's Furniture, Inc., a
publicly-held company.
 
  Michael Fuchs was elected as a director of the Company on September 25,
1996. Mr. Fuchs was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Home Box Office
("HBO"), the world's largest pay-television company, from October 1984 until
November 1995, and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Warner Music Group
from May 1995 to November 1995. Mr. Fuchs holds a B.A. from Union College and
a J.D. from the New York University School of Law. Mr. Fuchs is a member of
the Board of Directors of Marvel Entertainment Group, an entertainment and
publishing company, and IMAX Corp., an entertainment film and technology
company. On December 27, 1996, Marvel Entertainment Group filed a voluntary
petition under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code and is currently in the
process of formulating its plan of reorganization.
 
  Thomas J. Ciresa joined the Company in May 1995 as a regional director and
subsequently launched the customer service and training departments. Since
March 1996 Mr. Ciresa has served as Director of Used Vehicle Development and
Canada Operations. From March 1993 to June 1994, Mr. Ciresa served as Western
Regional Operations Manager for Kia Motors America. From November 1991 to
March 1993, Mr. Ciresa worked as National Sales Manager of Agency Rent-A-Car
and from September 1988 to November 1991 owned and operated a Toyota
franchised vehicle dealership in Eugene, Oregon. From June 1965 to September
1988, Mr. Ciresa served in senior management positions with a variety of
vehicle manufacturers, including Hyundai Auto Canada, Porsche Cars, N.A. and
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. Mr. Ciresa holds a B.E. from the University
of Miami, Florida.
 
  Jaqueline A. Dufort joined the Company in April 1996 as Director of
Information Technology. Since October 1996, Ms. Dufort has served as Chief
Technology Officer of the Company. From September 1990 to April 1996, Ms.
Dufort served as Director of Information Technology Strategic Planning for
Long Beach Mortgage Company, formerly known as Long Beach Bank, F.S.B. From
November 1986 to August 1990, Ms. Dufort served as Senior Project Manager for
Salomon Brothers Inc. Ms. Dufort holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Embry-
Riddle Aeronautical University and a Masters of Business Administration from
New York University.
 
  John P. Honiotes joined the Company in May 1995 as National Sales Director.
From October 1993 to October 1994, Mr. Honiotes served as regional director of
ABAC, a sub-par lender and from October 1994 to April 1995 as an independent
consultant, in each case developing sub-par programs and systems for use by
automobile dealerships to determine more efficiently the eligibility of sub-
prime credit consumers under the rules
 
                                      46

<PAGE>
 
of a large number of financing institutions. From June 1991 to October 1993,
Mr. Honiotes served as Director of Sales at Cush Automotive Group, Escondido,
California, an automotive dealership group, and, from June 1990 to June 1991,
as Chief Executive Officer and President of Presidential/AMS. From August 1988
to May 1990, Mr. Honiotes served as President of After-Market Profit Plus,
Inc., prior to which he served as Senior Vice President, National Sales
Director of AutoMax, an automotive affinity card program. Mr. Honiotes holds a
B.S. in Marketing from Northern Illinois University.
 
  The Board of Directors has currently authorized five members. Members of the
Board of Directors are elected each year at the Company's annual meeting of
stockholders, and serve until the following annual meeting of stockholders or
until their respective successors have been elected and qualified. In
connection with the Series A Preferred Stock financing, Mr. Coats was elected
to the Board of Directors pursuant to the Company's Amended and Restated
Certificate of Incorporation. The provision providing for the Series A
Preferred Stock nominee to the Board of Directors will terminate upon the
closing of the Offering.
 
 Director Compensation
 
  The Company's non-employee directors do not currently receive any cash
compensation for service on the Company's Board of Directors or any committee
thereof, but directors may be reimbursed for certain expenses incurred in
connection with attendance at Board and committee meetings. The Company's 1996
Stock Incentive Plan provides for automatic grants of stock options to non-
employee directors commencing upon the closing of this offering. See "Stock
Plans--1996 Stock Incentive Plan."
 
  Officers of the Company are appointed by the Board of Directors and serve at
its discretion. The Company has entered into indemnification agreements with
each member of the Board of Directors and certain of its officers providing
for the indemnification of such person to the fullest extent authorized,
permitted or allowed by law.
 

EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION
 
  Summary Compensation. The following table sets forth in summary form the
compensation paid by the Company during the year ended December 31, 1996 to
the Company's Chief Executive Officer and the four most highly paid executive
officers (the "Named Officers").
 
                          SUMMARY COMPENSATION TABLE
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                         LONG-TERM
                                                        COMPENSATION
                                                        ------------
                                                           AWARDS
                                                        ------------
                                 ANNUAL COMPENSATION     SECURITIES
   NAME AND PRINCIPAL          ------------------------  UNDERLYING       ALL OTHER
        POSITION          YEAR SALARY ($) (1) BONUS ($)  OPTIONS(#)  COMPENSATION ($) (2)
   ------------------     ---- -------------- --------- ------------ --------------------
<S>                       <C>  <C>            <C>       <C>          <C>
Peter R. Ellis..........  1996    $122,502    $321,167        --           $11,301
W. Randolph Ellspermann.  1996      50,000         --     125,000              --
Robert S. Grimes........  1996      90,000         --     250,000              --
Michael J. Lowell.......  1996      15,000         --     166,666              --
Brian B. MacDonald......  1996      85,000      50,000    125,000            1,776
</TABLE>

- --------
(1) Salary data reflect amounts paid for the year ended December 31, 1996 for
    the Chief Executive Officer and the Named Officers. Mr. Grimes began
    receiving cash compensation on August 1, 1996. The current annualized base
    salaries of the Chief Executive Officer and the Named Officers are as
    follows: Mr. Ellis--$275,000; Mr. Ellspermann--$120,000; Mr. Grimes--
    $180,000; Mr. Lowell--$120,000; and Mr. MacDonald--$120,000.
 
(2) Includes the following amounts: Mr. Ellis--$3,150 in health benefits, $369
    in life insurance payments and $7,782 in automobile expenses; and Mr.
    MacDonald--$1,776 in health benefits.
 
                                      47

<PAGE>
 
OPTION GRANTS DURING FISCAL 1996
 
  The following table sets forth for the Chief Executive Officer and the Named
Officers and certain information concerning stock options granted during
fiscal 1996. The Company did not grant SARs during fiscal 1996.

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                                                                      
                                                                                                      
                                                                                                      
                                                                                                      
                                           INDIVIDUAL GRANTS                                          
                          ---------------------------------------------------- POTENTIAL REALIZABLE  
                                          PERCENT OF                             VALUE AT ASSUMED    
                            NUMBER OF       TOTAL                              ANNUAL RATES OF STOCK 
                           SECURITIES      OPTIONS                              PRICE APPRECIATION   
                           UNDERLYING     GRANTED TO     EXERCISE               FOR OPTION TERM(5)   
                             OPTIONS     EMPLOYEES IN     PRICE     EXPIRATION ---------------------- 
          NAME            GRANTED(1)(#) FISCAL 1996(2) ($/SHARE)(3)  DATE(4)     5%($)      10%($)
          ----            ------------- -------------- ------------ ---------- ---------- -----------
<S>                       <C>           <C>            <C>          <C>        <C>        <C>
Peter R. Ellis..........          --          --             --           --          --         --
W. Randolph Ellspermann.     125,000          5.3%        $ 0.60      7/03/06  $   47,167 $  119,531
Robert S. Grimes........     250,000         10.7           0.60      7/03/06      94,334    239,062
Michael J. Lowell.......     166,666          7.1           3.00     10/23/06     314,446    796,868
Brian B. MacDonald .....     125,000          5.3           0.60      7/03/06      47,167    119,531
</TABLE>

- -------
(1) Represent options granted under the Company's 1996 Stock Option Plan and
    the 1996 Stock Incentive Plan. On October 23, 1996, the Board of Directors
    terminated the 1996 Stock Option Plan, and no further options may be
    granted thereunder.
 
(2) Based on an aggregate 2,352,066 shares subject to options granted to
    employees during fiscal 1996.
 
(3) Options were granted at an exercise price equal to the estimated fair
    market value of the Company's Common Stock at the date of grant. In
    determining the fair market value of the Company's Common Stock, the Board
    of Directors considered various factors, including the Company's financial
    condition and business prospects, its operating results, the absence of a
    market for its Common Stock and the risks normally associated with
    investments in companies engaged in similar businesses. For accounting
    purposes only, the Company recorded deferred compensation expense in
    connection with the grant of the options to Mr. Grimes. See Note 7 of
    Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.
 
(4) The term of each option granted under the 1996 Stock Option Plan is
    generally ten years from the date of grant. Options may terminate before
    their expiration dates, however, if the optionee's status as an employee
    or a consultant is terminated or upon the optionee's death or disability.
    Options granted under the Company's 1996 Stock Option Plan and 1996 Stock
    Incentive Plan must generally be exercised within 30 days of the
    termination of the optionee's status as an employee or consultant of the
    Company, or within twelve months after such optionee's death or
    disability.
 
(5) The 5% and 10% assumed annual rates of compounded stock price appreciation
    are mandated by rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission and do not
    represent the Company's estimate or projection of the Company's future
    Common Stock prices.
 
                                      48

<PAGE>
 
AGGREGATED OPTION/SAR EXERCISES IN 1996 AND FISCAL YEAR-END OPTION/SAR VALUES
 
  The following table sets forth for each of the Named Officers certain
information concerning options exercised during fiscal 1996 and the number of
shares subject to both exercisable and unexercisable stock options as of
December 31, 1996. Also reported are values for "in-the-money" options that
represent the positive spread between the respective exercise prices of
outstanding options and the fair market value of the Company's Common Stock as
of December 31, 1996. The Company has never issued stock appreciation rights
("SARs").
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                          NUMBER OF SECURITIES               VALUE OF UNEXERCISED
                           NUMBER OF                 UNDERLYING UNEXERCISED OPTIONS/       IN-THE-MONEY OPTIONS/SARS
                            SHARES                    SARS AT DECEMBER 31, 1996(#)        AT DECEMBER 31, 1996 ($)(2)
                          ACQUIRED ON     VALUE      ----------------------------------   ------------------------------
          NAME            EXERCISE(#) REALIZED($)(1)  EXERCISABLE       UNEXERCISABLE     EXERCISABLE     UNEXERCISABLE
          ----            ----------- -------------- ---------------   ----------------   -------------   --------------
<S>                       <C>         <C>            <C>               <C>                <C>             <C>
Peter R. Ellis..........       --             --                   --                 --             --               --
W. Randolph Ellspermann.    41,666       $308,328                    0             83,333  $           0         $616,656
Robert S. Grimes........       --             --               125,000            125,000        925,000          925,000
Michael J. Lowell.......       --             --                     0            166,666              0          833,330
Brian B. MacDonald .....       --             --                41,666             83,333        308,328          616,656
</TABLE>

- --------
(1) The amount set forth represents the difference between the fair market
    value of the shares at the time of exercise, as determined by the Board of
    Directors, and the exercise price of the option, multiplied by the
    applicable number of options.
 
(2) Calculated by determining the difference between the fair market value of
    the securities underlying the option as of December 31, 1996 ($8.00 per
    share as determined by the Board of Directors) and the exercise price of
    the Named Officer's options. In determining the fair market value of the
    Company's Common Stock, the Board of Directors considered various factors,
    including the Company's financial condition and business prospects, its
    operating results, the absence of a market for its Common Stock and the
    risks normally associated with technology companies.
 
STOCK PLANS
 
  1996 Stock Option Plan. The Company's 1996 Stock Option Plan (the "Option
Plan") was approved by the Board of Directors and the stockholders on May 18,
1996. The Option Plan provides for the granting to employees of incentive
stock options within the meaning of Section 422 of the Internal Revenue Code
of 1986, as amended (the "Code") and for the grant to employees, consultants
and directors of nonstatutory stock options. Under the Option Plan, the
exercise price of all incentive stock options granted under the Option Plan
cannot be lower than the fair market value of the Common Stock on the date of
grant. With respect to any participants who, at the time of grant, own stock
possessing more than 10% of the voting power of all classes of stock of the
Company, the exercise price of any stock option granted to such person must be
at least 110% of the fair market value on the grant date, and the maximum term
of such option is five years. The term of all other options granted under the
1996 Option Plan may be up to 10 years. The Option Plan may be administered by
the Board of Directors or a committee of the Board (the "Administrator"). Any
options granted under the Option Plan are exercisable at such times as
determined by the Administrator, but in no case at a rate of less than 20% per
year over five years from the grant date. A majority of the outstanding
options vest and become exercisable as to one-third of the grant on October
31, 1996, and as to an additional one third of the grant at each successive
October 31. Options granted under the Option Plan must be exercised within 30
days following termination of the optionee's status as an employee or
consultant of the Company, or within 12 months following such optionee's
termination by death or disability. The Board of Directors may at anytime
amend, suspend or discontinue the Option Plan, but no amendment, suspension or
discontinuation shall be made which would impair the rights of any optionee,
without his or her consent. If so requested by the Company or any
representative of the underwriters, the optionee shall not sell or transfer
any shares of the Company during the 180-day period following the effective
date of the registration statement relating to an initial public offering of
securities filed pursuant to the Securities Act of 1933 (the "Securities
Act"). On October 23, 1996, the Board of Directors terminated the Option Plan
and no further options may be granted thereunder. On October 23, 1996, options
to purchase an aggregate of 1,305,833 shares of Common Stock at an exercise
price of $0.60 per share were outstanding under the Option Plan.
 
                                      49

<PAGE>
 
  1996 Stock Incentive Plan. The Company's 1996 Stock Incentive Plan (the
"Incentive Plan") provides for the granting to employees of incentive stock
options within the meaning of Section 422 of the Code, and for the granting to
employees, directors and consultants of nonstatutory stock options and stock
purchase rights ("SPRs"). The Incentive Plan was approved by the Board of
Directors on October 23, 1996, amended by the Board of Directors on November
24, 1996 and approved by the stockholders on January 16, 1997. A total of
2,268,333 shares of Common Stock are currently reserved for issuance under the
Incentive Plan. Shares available for future grant under the Incentive Plan
will be increased as of the first day of each new fiscal year during the term
of the Incentive Plan by the number of shares issuable upon exercise of
options granted thereunder in the previous fiscal year, net of returns. This
increase may not exceed 1,250,000 in any fiscal year. No option holder may be
granted options to purchase more than 500,000 shares in any fiscal year;
provided, however, that an option holder may be granted an additional 500,000
shares in connection with his or her initial service with the Company.
 
  The Incentive Plan may be administered by the Board of Directors or a
committee of the Board (the "Committee"), which Committee will, in the case of
options intended to qualify as "performance-based compensation" within the
meaning of Section 162(m) of the Code, consist of two or more "outside
directors" within the meaning of Section 162(m) of the Code. The Committee has
the power to determine the terms of the options or SPRs granted, including the
exercise price, the number of shares subject to each option or SPR, the
exercisability thereof, and the form of consideration payable upon such
exercise. In addition, the Committee has the authority to amend, suspend or
terminate the Incentive Plan, provided that no such action may affect any
share of Common Stock previously issued and sold or any option previously
granted under the Incentive Plan.
 
  Options and SPRs granted under the Incentive Plan are not generally
transferable by the optionee, and each option and SPR is exercisable during
the lifetime of the optionee only by such optionee. Options granted under the
Incentive Plan must generally be exercised within three months of the end of
optionee's status as an employee or consultant of the Company, or within
twelve months after such optionee's termination by death or disability, but in
no event later than the expiration of the option's ten year term. In the case
of SPRs, unless the Committee determines otherwise, the Restricted Stock
Purchase Agreement will grant the Company a repurchase option exercisable upon
the voluntary or involuntary termination of the purchaser's employment with
the Company for any reason (including death or disability). The purchase price
for Shares repurchased pursuant to the Restricted Stock Purchase Agreement
will be the original price paid by the purchaser and may be paid by
cancellation of any indebtedness of the purchaser to the Company. The
repurchase option shall lapse at a rate determined by the Committee. The
exercise price of all incentive stock options granted under the Incentive Plan
must be at least equal to the fair market value of the Common Stock on the
date of grant. The exercise price of nonstatutory stock options and SPRs
granted under the Incentive Plan is determined by the Committee, but with
respect to nonstatutory stock options intended to qualify as "performance-
based compensation" within the meaning of Section 162(m) of the Code, the
exercise price must at least be equal to the fair market value of the Common
Stock on the date of grant. With respect to any participant who owns stock
possessing more than 10% of the voting power of all classes of the Company's
outstanding capital stock, the exercise price of any incentive stock option
granted must equal at least 110% of the fair market value on the grant date
and the term of such incentive stock option must not exceed five years. The
term of all other options granted under the Incentive Plan may not exceed ten
years.
 
  The Incentive Plan provides that in the event of a merger of the Company
with or into another corporation, a sale of substantially all of the Company's
assets or a like transaction involving the Company, each option will be
assumed or an equivalent option substituted by the successor corporation. If
the outstanding options are not assumed or substituted as described in the
preceding sentence, the Committee shall provide for the Optionee to have the
right to exercise the option or SPR as to all of the optioned stock, including
shares as to which it would not otherwise be exercisable. If the Administrator
makes an option or SPR exercisable in full in the event of a merger or sale of
assets, the Administrator will notify the optionee that the option or SPR will
be fully exercisable for a period of 15 days from the date of such notice, and
the option or SPR will terminate upon the expiration of such period.
 
                                      50

<PAGE>
 
  Non-employee directors are entitled to participate in the Company's
Incentive Plan. The Incentive Plan provides for an automatic grant of an
option to purchase 16,666 shares of Common Stock (the "First Option") to each
non-employee director on the date on which the Incentive Plan becomes
effective or, if later, on the date on which the person first becomes a non-
employee director. After the First Option is granted to the non-employee
director, he or she will automatically be granted an option to purchase 4,166
shares (a "Subsequent Option") on November 1 of each subsequent year provided
he or she is then a non-employee director and, provided further, that on such
date he or she has served on the Board for at least six months. First Options
and each Subsequent Option will have a term of ten years. Twenty-five percent
of the shares subject to the First Option shall vest on the date twelve months
after the grant date of the option, and 1/48 of the shares subject to the
First Option and each Subsequent Option shall become exercisable each month
thereafter, provided that the optionee continues to serve as a director on
such dates. The exercise price of the First Option and each Subsequent Option
cannot have an exercise price lower be 100% of the fair market value per share
of the Company's Common Stock on the date of the grant of the option.
 
  1996 Employee Stock Purchase Plan. The Company's 1996 Employee Stock
Purchase Plan (the "Purchase Plan") was adopted by the Board of Directors on
November 18, 1996 and approved by the stockholders on January 16, 1997. The
Company has reserved a total of 666,666 shares of Common Stock for issuance
under the Purchase Plan. Shares available for future issuance under the
Purchase Plan will be increased as of the first day of each new fiscal year
during the term of the Purchase Plan by the number of shares issued thereunder
in the prior fiscal year. The Purchase Plan, which is intended to qualify
under Section 423 of the Code, as amended, permits eligible employees of the
Company to purchase shares of Common Stock through payroll deductions of up to
ten percent of their compensation, up to a maximum of $21,250 for all purchase
periods ending within any calendar year. The Purchase Plan will be implemented
in a series of successive 6-month offering periods. However, the initial
offering period will begin on the effective date of this offering and will end
on the last trading day in the period ending June 1997.
 
  Individuals who are eligible employees on the start day of any offering
period may enter the Purchase Plan on that start date or on any subsequent
quarterly entry date (January 1, April 1, July 1 or October 1). Individuals
who become eligible employees after the start date of the offering period may
join the Purchase Plan on any subsequent quarterly entry date within that
period. Employees are eligible to participate if they are customarily employed
by the Company or any designated subsidiary for at least 20 hours per week and
for more than five months in any calendar year.
 
  The price of Common Stock purchased under the Purchase Plan will be 85% of
the lower of the fair market value of the Common Stock on the first or last
day of each six month purchase period. Employees may end their participation
in the Purchase Plan at any time during an offering period, and they will be
paid their payroll deductions to date. Participation ends automatically upon
termination of employment with the Company. Rights granted under the Purchase
Plan are not transferable by a participant other than by will, the laws of
descent and distribution, or as otherwise provided under the plan.
 
  The Purchase Plan will be administered by the Board of Directors or by a
committee appointed by the Board. The Board may amend or modify the Purchase
Plan at any time. The Purchase Plan will terminate on the last business day in
October 2006, unless sooner terminated by the Board.
 
COMPENSATION COMMITTEE INTERLOCKS AND INSIDER PARTICIPATION
 
  No interlocking relationship exists between the Company's Board of Directors
or Compensation Committee and the board of directors or compensation committee
of any other company, nor has any such interlocking relationship existed in
the past. The Compensation Committee of the Board of Directors currently
consists of Messrs. Coats and Fuchs.
 
                                      51

<PAGE>
 
EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENTS
 
  The Company does not presently have any employment contracts in effect with
the Chief Executive Officer or any of the Named Officers, except for Mr.
Lowell. Mr. Lowell has an employment offer letter which provides that he is
entitled to continue to receive his salary for a period of six months as
severance if he is terminated without cause within one year from the
commencement of his employment. Mr. Markovich also has an offer letter which
entitles him to receive a severance payment equal to six months' salary if he
is terminated without cause within one year of the commencement of his
employment. In addition, Mr. Lorimer has an offer letter which entitles him to
receive a severance payment equal to one year's salary (payable monthly) and
an acceleration of all outstanding options, if he is terminated without cause,
dies, becomes disabled or there occurs a change in control of the Company.
 
LIMITATION OF LIABILITY AND INDEMNIFICATION MATTERS
 
  The Company's Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation limits the
liability of directors to the maximum extent permitted by Delaware law.
Delaware law provides that a corporation's certificate of incorporation may
contain a provision eliminating or limiting the personal liability of a
director for monetary damages for breach of their fiduciary duties as
directors, except for liability (i) for any breach of their duty of loyalty to
the corporation or its stockholders, (ii) for acts or omissions not in good
faith or which involve intentional misconduct or a knowing violation of law,
(iii) for unlawful payments of dividends or unlawful stock repurchases or
redemptions as provided in Section 174 of the Delaware General Corporation Law
or (iv) for any transaction from which the director derived an improper
personal benefit.
 
  The Company's Restated Bylaws provide that the Company shall indemnify its
directors and officers and may indemnify its employees and agents to the
fullest extent permitted by law. The Company believes that indemnification
under its Restated Bylaws covers at least negligence and gross negligence on
the part of indemnified parties.
 
  The Company has entered into agreements to indemnify its directors and
officers, in addition to the indemnification provided for in the Company's
Restated Bylaws. These agreements, among other things, indemnify the Company's
directors and officers for certain expenses (including attorneys' fees),
judgments, fines and settlement amounts incurred by any such person in any
action or proceeding, including any action by or in the right of the Company,
arising out of such person's services as a director or officer of the Company,
any subsidiary of the Company or any other company or enterprise to which the
person provides services at the request of the Company. The Company believes
that these provisions and agreements are necessary to attract and retain
qualified directors and officers.
 
                                      52

<PAGE>
 

                             CERTAIN TRANSACTIONS
 
  Pursuant to a Contribution Agreement and Plan of Reorganization dated May
31, 1996 among the Company, Auto-By-Tel, LLC, ABT Acceptance Company, LLC,
Peter R. Ellis, John C. Bedrosian, the John C. Bedrosian and Judith D.
Bedrosian Revocable Trust (the "Trust"), and Robert S. Grimes, the Company
issued to the Trust, Mr. Ellis and Mr. Grimes 5,354,166, 6,187,500 and 833,333
shares of Common Stock of the Company, respectively, in exchange for the
transfer to the Company of their respective membership interests in Auto-By-
Tel, LLC and ABT Acceptance Company, LLC. See Note 5.b of Notes to
Consolidated Financial Statements.
 
  On July 31, 1996, the Company issued to Robert S. Grimes, a director,
officer and significant stockholder of the Company, an option to purchase
250,000 shares of Common Stock of the Company at an exercise price of $0.60
per share, which option vests over two years.
 
  From time to time, the Company has advanced funds to Peter R. Ellis, the
Company's President and Chief Executive Officer. At no time did Mr. Ellis'
indebtedness to the Company exceed $30,000. The advances did not accrue
interest and were unsecured. The advances were made without a specific due
date. Advances were approved by Mr. Bedrosian, the Company's Chairman and
controlling stockholder. The advances were used to pay personal expenses of
Mr. Ellis and were retired by subsequent offsets to Mr. Ellis' salary and
bonus. The Company believes that these advances were in the best interest of
the Company and its stockholders because they allowed Mr. Ellis to meet his
personal needs without requiring an increase in salary or a larger bonus. As
of January 30, 1997, no advances to Mr. Ellis were outstanding. In the future,
the Company will not grant loans to officers or other key employees without
the prior approval of the Compensation Committee of the Board of Directors.
 
  On May 31, 1996 and June 28, 1996, John C. Bedrosian, a director and
significant stockholder of the Company made unsecured loans to the Company in
the amounts of $910,863 and $170,000, respectively. The loans accrued interest
at a simple rate of 8% per annum. These principal and all outstanding and
accrued interest outstanding under loans was repaid in full in a single
repayment on August 28, 1996 and all promissory notes evidencing such debt
were canceled. The Company believes that such loans were on terms more
favorable than the Company would have received from disinterested parties.
 
  In connection with the Company's lease of its principal offices, the Company
was required to establish a $175,000 letter of credit. On June 19, 1996, Mr.
Bedrosian co-signed this letter of credit and pledged a certificate of deposit
as collateral. Mr. Bedrosian has also personally guaranteed the Company's
Merchant Card Agreement, and has provided a personal guarantee to the
financial institution that issued the Company's corporate credit cards,
guaranteeing the payment of all outstanding indebtedness under these credit
facilities.
 
  On August 26, 1996, the Company issued 1,500,000 shares of Series A
Preferred Stock at $10.00 per share in a private placement for an aggregate
consideration of $15.0 million in cash and cancellation of indebtedness. The
holders of such Series A Preferred Stock are entitled to certain registration
rights with respect to the shares of Common Stock issued or issuable upon
conversion thereof. See "Description of Capital Stock--Registration Rights."
Each share of Series A Preferred Stock will convert on a five-for-three basis
into an aggregate of 2,500,000 shares of Common Stock (at a conversion price
of $6.00 per share) on or immediately prior to the closing of this offering.
In connection with such financing, the Company issued (i) 200,000 shares to
ContiTrade Services L.L.C. in exchange for $2,000,000 in cash, (ii) 400,000
shares to National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh in exchange for
$4,000,000 in cash, (iii) 800,000 shares to General Electric Capital
Corporation in exchange for $8,000,000 in cash, and (iv) 100,000 shares to
Michael Fuchs in exchange for $1,000,000 in cash and cancellation of
indebtedness. Sales of Series A Preferred Stock were made in reliance on the
exemption from registration provided by Section 4(2) of the Securities Act.
 
  On July 9, 1996 and August 13, 1996, Michael Fuchs, made unsecured loans to
the Company in the principal amount of $250,000 and $250,000, respectively.
These loans accrued interest at a simple rate of 10% per annum. All principal
and accrued interest under these loans was converted into Series A Preferred
Stock on
 
                                      53

<PAGE>
 
   
August 26, 1996 at $10.00 per share. No cash repayments of principal or
interest were made on such loans prior to their conversion. The Company
believes that such loans were on terms more favorable than the Company could
have received from disinterested parties. In September 1996, Mr. Fuchs was
appointed to the Company's Board of Directors.     
 
  On January 30, 1997, the Company issued 967,915 shares of Series B Preferred
Stock at $9.35 per share in a private placement or an aggregate consideration
of $9.05 million in cash. The holders of such Series B Preferred Stock are
entitled to certain registration rights with respect to the shares of Common
Stock issued or issuable upon conversion thereof. See "Description of Capital
Stock--Registration Rights." Each share of Series B Preferred Stock will
convert on a one-for-one basis into an aggregate of 967,915 shares of Common
Stock on or immediately prior to the closing of the Offering. In connection
with such financing, the Company issued (i) 133,690 shares to ContiTrade
Services L.L.C. in exchange for $1.25 million in cash, (ii) 267,380 shares to
National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh in exchange for
$2.5 million in cash, (iii) 534,760 shares to General Electric Capital
Corporation in exchange for $5.0 million in cash, and (iv) 32,085 shares to
Michael Fuchs in exchange for $300,000 in cash. Sales of Series B Preferred
Stock were made in reliance on the exemption from registration provided by
Section 4(2) of the Securities Act.
 
  In 1996, the Company paid approximately $89,000 in legal fees and expenses
to Dewey Ballantine. Mr. Lorimer was a partner at Dewey Ballantine during
fiscal 1996. Mr. Lorimer joined Auto-By-Tel as Vice President, General Counsel
and Secretary in December 1996.
 
                                      54

<PAGE>
 
                      PRINCIPAL AND SELLING STOCKHOLDERS
 
  The following table sets forth certain information with respect to the
beneficial ownership of the Company's Common Stock as of January 31, 1997 and
as adjusted to reflect the sale of Common Stock offered hereby for (i) each
person or entity who is known by the Company to beneficially own five percent
or more of the outstanding Common Stock of the Company, (ii) each of the
Company's directors, (iii) each of the Named Officers, and (iv) all directors
and executive officers of the Company as a group:
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                      SHARES BENEFICIALLY OWNED                SHARES BENEFICIALLY
                                         PRIOR TO OFFERING(1)       NUMBER   OWNED AFTER OFFERING(1)
                                      -------------------------    OF SHARES -----------------------
NAME OR GROUP OF BENEFICIAL OWNERS        NUMBER        PERCENT     OFFERED     NUMBER       PERCENT
- ----------------------------------    ---------------   -------    --------- --------------  -------
<S>                                   <C>             <C>          <C>       <C>            <C>
Peter R. Ellis(2)....................       6,075,167       38.2%   400,000       5,675,167      29.1%
 c/o Auto-By-Tel Corporation
 18872 MacArthur Boulevard, Suite 200
 Irvine, California 92612-1400
John C. Bedrosian(3).................       5,354,166       33.7        --        5,354,166      27.5
 c/o Auto-By-Tel Corporation
 18872 MacArthur Boulevard, Suite 200
 Irvine, California 92612-1400
Jeffrey H. Coats(4)..................       1,868,093       11.8        --        1,868,093       9.6
General Electric Capital Corporation
 260 Long Ridge Road
 Stamford, Connecticut 06927
Robert S. Grimes(5)..................         958,333        6.0        --          958,333       4.9
 152 West 57th Street
 New York, NY 10019
National Union Fire Insurance........         934,046        5.9        --          934,046       4.8
 Company of Pittsburgh
 70 Pine Street
 19th Floor
 New York, New York 10270
W. Randolph Ellspermann..............          41,666          *        --           41,666         *
Mark W. Lorimer(6)...................               0          0        --                0         0
Michael J. Lowell(6).................               0          0        --                0         0
Brian B. MacDonald(6)................          41,666          *        --           41,666         *
John M. Markovich(6).................               0          0        --                0         0
Michael Fuchs(7).....................         198,751        1.3        --          198,751         *
All directors and executive officers
 as a group (8 persons)(8)...........      14,537,842       91.5    400,000      14,137,842      72.5
</TABLE>

- --------
 * Less than 1%
(1) Assumes no exercise of the Underwriters' over-allotment option. Beneficial
    ownership is determined in accordance with the rules of the Securities and
    Exchange Commission. In computing the number of shares beneficially owned
    by a person and the percentage ownership of that person, shares of Common
    Stock subject to options held by that person that are currently
    exercisable or exercisable within 60 days of January 31, 1997 are deemed
    outstanding. Such shares, however, are not deemed outstanding for the
    purposes of computing the percentage ownership of each other person.
    Except as indicated in the footnotes to this table and pursuant to
    applicable community property laws, each stockholder named in the table
    has sole voting and investment power with respect to the shares set forth
    opposite such stockholder's name.
(2) Includes 33,333 shares held by certain irrevocable trusts established for
    family members of Mr. Ellis as to which Mr. Ellis' spouse maintains sole
    voting power. Excludes 108,333 shares held by family members of Mr. Ellis
    as to which Mr. Ellis disclaims beneficial ownership.
(3) All shares are held in The John C. Bedrosian and Judith D. Bedrosian
    Revocable Trust in which Mr. Bedrosian maintains shared voting powers.
(4) Shares held by General Electric Capital Corporation. Mr. Coats is a
    managing director of GE Equity Capital Group, Inc., an affiliate thereof,
    and is a director of the Company. Excludes 16,666 shares subject to
    options granted to Mr. Coats, and subsequently assigned to General
    Electric Capital Corporation, none of which are exercisable within 60 days
    of January 31, 1997.
(5) Includes 125,000 shares subject to options exercisable within 60 days of
    January 31, 1997. Includes an aggregate of 8,333 shares held in
    irrevocable trusts as to which Mr. Grimes' spouse maintains sole voting
    power.
(6) Represents shares subject to options exercisable within 60 days of January
    31, 1997. Excludes 93,333, 500,000, 166,666, 83,333, and 200,000 shares
    subject to outstanding options granted to Messrs. Ellspermann, Lorimer,
    Lowell, MacDonald and Markovich, respectively, none of which are
    exercisable within 60 days of January 31, 1997.
(7) Excludes 16,666 shares subject to options granted to Mr. Fuchs, none of
    which are exercisable within 60 days of January 31, 1997.
(8) Includes 166,666 shares subject to options exercisable within 60 days of
    January 31, 1997.
 
                                      55

<PAGE>
 

                         DESCRIPTION OF CAPITAL STOCK
 
  Upon the closing of this offering, the outstanding Common Stock of the
Company will consist of 19,495,136 shares, $0.001 par value. As of January 31,
1997, there were 15,895,136 shares of Common Stock outstanding (assuming the
conversion of all outstanding shares of Preferred Stock) held of record by
approximately 26 stockholders.
 
COMMON STOCK
 
  A total of 50,000,000 shares of Common Stock of the Company will be
authorized upon the closing of the Offering. Holders of Common Stock are
entitled to one vote per share in all matters to be voted on by the
stockholders. Subject to the preferences of the Preferred Stock, holders of
Common Stock are entitled to receive ratably such dividends, if any, as may be
declared from time to time by the Board of Directors out of funds legally
available for payment. See "Dividend Policy." In the event of a liquidation,
dissolution or winding up of the Company, the holders of Common Stock are
entitled to share ratably in all assets remaining after payment of
liabilities, subject to prior distribution rights of Preferred Stock then
outstanding, if any. The Common Stock has no preemptive or conversion rights
or other subscription rights. There are no redemption or sinking fund
provisions applicable to the Common Stock. All outstanding shares of Common
Stock are fully paid and non-assessable, and the shares of Common Stock to be
issued upon completion of the Offering will be fully paid and non-assessable.
 
PREFERRED STOCK
 
  Pursuant to the Company's Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation,
the Board of Directors has the authority, without further action by the
stockholders, to issue up to 5,000,000 shares of Preferred Stock in one or
more series and to fix the designations, powers, preferences, privileges, and
relative participating, optional or special rights and the qualifications,
limitations or restrictions thereof, including dividend rights, conversion
rights, voting rights, terms of redemption and liquidation preferences, any or
all of which may be greater than the rights of the Common Stock. The Board of
Directors, without stockholder approval, can issue Preferred Stock with
voting, conversion or other rights that could adversely affect the voting
power and other rights of the holders of Common Stock. Preferred Stock could
thus be issued quickly with terms calculated to delay or prevent a change in
control of the Company or make removal of management more difficult.
Additionally, the issuance of Preferred Stock may have the effect of
decreasing the market price of the Common Stock, and may adversely affect the
voting and other rights of the holders of Common Stock. Upon the closing of
the Offering, no shares of Preferred Stock will be outstanding and the Company
has no plans to issue any of the Preferred Stock.
 
REGISTRATION RIGHTS
 
  Pursuant to an agreement between the Company and the holders (the "Holders")
of approximately 15,322,248 shares of Common Stock and securities convertible
into Common Stock (collectively, and as converted, the "Registrable
Securities"), the Holders are entitled to certain rights with respect to the
registration of such shares under the Act. If the Company proposes to register
any of its securities under the Act, either for its own account or for the
account of other Holders exercising registration rights, the Holders are
entitled to notice of such registration and are entitled to include shares of
Registrable Securities therein. Additionally, the Holders are also entitled to
certain demand registration rights pursuant to which they may require the
Company to file a registration statement under the Act at the Company's
expense with respect to their shares of Registrable Securities, and the
Company is required to use its best efforts to effect such registration. All
of these registration rights are subject to certain conditions and
limitations, among them the right of the underwriters of an offering to limit
the number of shares included in such registration and the right of the
Company not to effect a requested registration within one year of an initial
public offering of the Company's securities, such as the Offering made hereby,
or if such requested registration would have an anticipated aggregate offering
to the public of less than $30,000,000.
 
                                      56

<PAGE>
 
DELAWARE ANTI-TAKEOVER LAW AND CERTAIN CHARTER PROVISIONS
 
 Anti-Takeover Law
 
  The Company is subject to the provisions of Section 203 of the Delaware
General Corporation Law. In general, Section 203 prohibits a publicly-held
Delaware corporation from engaging in a "business combination" with an
"interested stockholder" for a period of three years after the date of the
transaction in which the person became an interested stockholder, unless the
business combination is approved in a prescribed manner or unless the
interested stockholder acquired at least 85% of the corporation's voting stock
(excluding shares held by certain designated stockholders) in the transaction
in which it became an interested stockholder. For purposes of Section 203, a
"business combination" includes a merger, asset sale or other transaction
resulting in a financial benefit to the interested stockholder. Subject to
certain exceptions, an "interested stockholder" is a person who, together with
affiliates and associates, owns, or within the previous three years did own,
15% or more of the corporation's voting stock.
 
 Limitation of Director and Officer Liability
 
  The Company's Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation and Bylaws
contain certain provisions relating to the limitation of liability and
indemnification of directors and officers. The Company's Amended and Restated
Certificate of Incorporation provides that directors of the Company may not be
held personally liable to the Company or its stockholders for a breach of
fiduciary duty, except for liability (i) for any breach of the director's duty
of loyalty to the Company or its stockholders, (ii) for acts or omissions not
in good faith or which involve intentional misconduct or a knowing violation
of the law, (iii) under Section 174 of the Delaware General Corporation Law,
relating to prohibited dividends, distributions and repurchases or redemptions
of stock, or (iv) for any transaction from which the director derives an
improper benefit. In addition, the Company's Amended and Restated Certificate
of Incorporation and Bylaws provide that the Company shall indemnify its
directors and officers to the fullest extent authorized by Delaware law.
 
 No Stockholder Action by Written Consent
 
  Prior to the closing of the Offering, the Company's Amended and Restated
Certificate of Incorporation will provide that the stockholders can take
action only at a duly called annual or special meeting of stockholders.
Accordingly, stockholders of the Company will not be able to take action by
written consent in lieu of a meeting. This provision may have the effect of
deterring hostile takeovers or delaying changes in control or management of
the Company.
 
TRANSFER AGENT AND REGISTRAR
 
  ChaseMellon Shareholder Services, L.L.C. has been appointed as the transfer
agent and registrar for the Company's Common Stock. Its telephone number for
such purposes is (818) 971-4758.
 
                                      57

<PAGE>
 
                        SHARES ELIGIBLE FOR FUTURE SALE
 
  Prior to the Offering, there has been no market for the Common Stock of the
Company. Future sales of substantial amounts of Common Stock in the public
market could adversely affect market prices prevailing from time to time. Upon
completion of the Offering, based upon shares outstanding as of January 31,
1997, the Company will have outstanding an aggregate of 19,495,136 shares of
Common Stock, assuming no exercise of the Underwriters' over-allotment option
and no exercise of outstanding options. Of these shares, the 4,000,000 shares
sold in the Offering will be freely tradeable without restriction or further
registration under the Securities Act, except that any shares purchased by
"affiliates" of the Company, as that term is defined in Rule 144 of the
Securities Act ("Affiliates"), may generally only be sold in compliance with
the limitations of Rule 144 described below.
 
SALES OF RESTRICTED SHARES
 
  The remaining 15,495,136 shares of Common Stock held by existing
stockholders are "restricted securities" under Rule 144 ("Restricted Shares").
The number of shares of Common Stock available for sale in the public market
is limited by restrictions under the Securities Act and lock-up agreements
under which the holders of such shares have agreed not to sell or otherwise
dispose of any of their shares for a period of 180 days after the date of this
Prospectus (the "lock-up period") without the prior written consent of
Montgomery Securities. On the date of this Prospectus, no shares other than
the 4,000,000 offered hereby will be eligible for sale. In addition, following
the expiration of the lock-up period, none of the Restricted Shares will
become available for sale in the public market until the expiration of their
two year holding periods.
 
  In general, under Rule 144 as currently in effect, beginning 90 days after
the date of this Prospectus, a person (or persons whose shares are aggregated)
who has beneficially owned Restricted Shares for at least two years (including
the holding period of any prior owner, except if the prior owner was an
Affiliate) would be entitled to sell within any three-month period a number of
shares that does not exceed the greater of: (i) one percent of the number of
shares of Common Stock then outstanding (which will equal approximately
194,951 shares immediately after the Offering); or (ii) the average weekly
trading volume of the Common Stock on the Nasdaq National Market during the
four calendar weeks preceding the filing of a notice on Form 144 with respect
to such sale. Sales under Rule 144 are also subject to certain manner of sale
provisions and notice requirements and to the availability of current public
information about the Company. Under Rule 144(k), a person who is not deemed
to have been an Affiliate of the Company at any time during the 90 days
preceding a sale, and who has beneficially owned the shares proposed to be
sold for at least three years (including the holding period of any prior owner
except an Affiliate), is entitled to sell such shares without complying with
the manner of sale, public information, volume limitation or notice provisions
of Rule 144; therefore, unless otherwise restricted, "144(k) shares" could be
sold immediately upon the completion of the Offering. All of the Restricted
Shares, however, will have been held for less than one year upon completion of
the Offering.
 
  Upon completion of the Offering, the holders of 15,322,248 shares of Common
Stock, or their transferees, will be entitled to certain rights with respect
to the registration of such shares under the Securities Act. See "Description
of Capital Stock--Registration Rights." Registration of such shares under the
Securities Act would result in such shares becoming freely tradeable without
restriction under the Securities Act (except for shares purchased by
Affiliates) immediately upon the effectiveness of such registration.
 
OPTIONS
 
  The Company intends to file a registration statement under the Securities
Act covering shares of Common Stock reserved for issuance for options
outstanding under the Option Plan and the Incentive Plan and reserved for
issuance under the Purchase Plan. See "Management--Stock Plans." Such
registration statement is expected to be filed and become effective as soon as
practicable after the effective date of this offering. Accordingly, shares
registered under such registration statement will, subject to Rule 144 volume
limitations applicable to Affiliates, be available for sale in the open
market, unless such shares are subject to vesting restrictions with the
 
                                      58

<PAGE>
 
Company or the lock-up agreements described above. A total of 4,197,500 shares
have been reserved for issuance under the Option Plan, the Incentive Plan and
the Purchase Plan. As of January 31, 1997, options to purchase 2,405,565
shares of Common Stock were issued and outstanding under the Option Plan and
no options had been granted under the Incentive Plan. See "Management--Stock
Plans."
 
  In addition, under Rule 701 of the Securities Act as currently in effect,
any employee, consultant or advisor of the Company (other than an affiliate)
who purchased shares from the Company in connection with a compensatory stock
or option plan or other written agreement is eligible to resell such shares 90
days after the effective date of this offering in reliance on Rule 144, but
without compliance with certain restrictions, including the holding period,
contained in Rule 144.
 
LOCK-UP AGREEMENTS
 
  All officers, directors, and other stockholders of the Company have agreed
not to sell, offer, contract or grant any option to sell, make any short sale,
pledge, transfer, establish an open "put equivalent position" within the
meaning of the Rule 16a-1(h) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as
amended, or otherwise dispose of any shares of Common Stock or any securities
convertible into or exercisable or exchangeable for Common Stock for a period
of 180 days after the date of this Prospectus, without the prior written
consent of Montgomery Securities. In addition, under the terms of the Option
Plan and Incentive Plan, holders of options to purchase Common Stock are
obligated not to sell or transfer any shares of the Company during such 180-
day period if so requested by the Company or the underwriters. See
"Underwriting."
 
                                      59

<PAGE>
 

                                 UNDERWRITING
 
  The Underwriters named below, represented by Montgomery Securities, Cowen &
Company and Robertson, Stephens & Company LLC (the "Representatives"), have
severally agreed, subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the
Underwriting Agreement, to purchase from the Company the number of shares of
Common Stock indicated below opposite their respective names at the initial
public offering price less the underwriting discount set forth on the cover
page of this Prospectus. The Underwriting Agreement provides that the
obligations of the Underwriters are subject to certain conditions precedent,
and that the Underwriters are committed to purchase all of such shares, if any
are purchased.
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                           UNDERWRITER                          NUMBER OF SHARES
                           -----------                          ----------------
   <S>                                                          <C>
   Montgomery Securities.......................................
   Cowen & Company.............................................
   Robertson, Stephens & Company LLC...........................
                                                                   ---------
     Total.....................................................    4,000,000
                                                                   =========
</TABLE>

 
  The Representatives have advised the Company that the Underwriters initially
propose to offer the Common Stock to the public on the terms set forth on the
cover page of this Prospectus. The Underwriters may allow to selected dealers
a concession of not more than $  per share, and the Underwriters may allow,
and such dealers may reallow, a concession of not more than $  per share to
certain other dealers. After the initial public offering, the offering price
and other selling terms may be changed by the Representatives. The shares of
Common Stock are offered subject to receipt and acceptance by the
Underwriters, and to certain other conditions, including the right to reject
orders in whole or in part.
 
  The Company has granted an option to the Underwriters, exercisable during
the 30-day period after the date of this Prospectus, to purchase up to a
maximum of 600,000 additional shares of Common Stock to cover over-allotments,
if any, at the same price per share as the initial shares of Common Stock to
be purchased by the Underwriters. To the extent the Underwriters exercise this
option, each of the Underwriters will be committed to purchase such additional
shares in approximately the same proportion as set forth in the above table.
The Underwriters may purchase such shares only to cover over-allotments made
in connection with the offering.
 
  The Underwriting Agreement provides that the Company will indemnify the
Underwriters against certain liabilities, including civil liabilities under
the Securities Act, or will contribute to payments the Underwriters may be
required to make in respect thereof.
 
  The shares of Common Stock offered hereby have not been and will not be
qualified for distribution under the securities legislation of any of the
provinces of Canada. Accordingly, the shares of Common Stock offered hereby
may not be distributed in Canada, except pursuant to a prospectus exemption
under applicable securities legislation. Each Underwriter has agreed that it
will not distribute any shares of Common Stock in Canada except in accordance
with a prospectus exemption under applicable securities legislation.
 
  All of the Company's officers, directors and stockholders have agreed that
they will not, without the prior written consent of Montgomery Securities
(which consent may be withheld in its sole discretion) and subject to certain
limited exceptions, directly or indirectly, sell, offer, contract or grant any
option to sell, make any short sale, pledge, transfer, establish an open "put
equivalent position" within the meaning of the Rule 16a-1(h) under the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or otherwise dispose of any
shares of Common Stock, options or warrants to acquire Common Stock, or
securities exchangeable or exercisable for or convertible into Common Stock
currently owned either of record or beneficially by them for a period
commencing on the date of this Prospectus and continuing to a date 180 days
after the first date any of the shares of Common Stock offered hereby are
released by the Underwriters for sale to the public. Montgomery Securities
may, in its sole discretion and at any time without notice, release all or any
portion of the securities subject to these lock-up agreements. In
 
                                      60

<PAGE>
 
addition, the Company has agreed that, for a period of 180 days after the date
of this Prospectus, it will not, without the consent of Montgomery Securities,
issue, offer, sell or grant options to purchase or otherwise dispose of any
equity securities or securities convertible into or exchangeable for equity
securities except for (i) the shares of Common Stock offered hereby, (ii)
shares of Common Stock issued pursuant to the exercise of outstanding options
and (iii) options to purchase shares of Common Stock granted pursuant to the
Incentive Plan and shares of Common Stock issued pursuant to the exercise of
such options. See "Management--Stock Plans" and "Shares Eligible for Future
Sale."
 
  Prior to the Offering, there has been no public market for the Common Stock.
Consequently, the initial public offering price will be determined by
negotiations between the Company and the Representatives. Among the factors to
be considered in such negotiations are the history of, and prospects for, the
Company and the industry in which it competes, an assessment of the Company's
management, its past and present operations and financial performance, the
prospects for future earnings of the Company, the present state of the
Company's development, the general condition of the securities markets at the
time of the Offering, the market prices of and demand for publicly traded
common stocks of companies in recent periods and other factors deemed
relevant.
 
  In order to facilitate the offering of the Common Stock, the Underwriters
may engage in transactions that stabilize, maintain or otherwise affect the
price of the Common Stock. Specifically, the Underwriters may overallot in
connection with the Offering, creating a short position in the Common Stock
for their own account. In addition, to cover overallotments or to stabilize
the price of the Common Stock, the Underwriters may bid for, and purchase,
shares of Common Stock in the open market. Finally, the underwriting syndicate
may reclaim selling concessions allowed to an underwriter or a dealer for
distributing the Common Stock in the Offering if the syndicate repurchases
previously distributed Common Stock in transactions to cover syndicate short
positions, in stabilization transactions or otherwise. Any of these activities
may stabilize or maintain the market price of the Common Stock above
independent market levels. The Underwriters are not required to engage in
these activities and may end any of these activities at any time.
 
  The Representatives have informed the Company that the Underwriters do not
expect to make sales to accounts over which they exercise discretionary
authority in excess of 5% of the number of shares of Common Stock offered
hereby.
 
  The Company and the Selling Stockholder have agreed to indemnify the several
Underwriters against certain liabilities, including liabilities under the
Securities Act.
 
                                      61

<PAGE>
 

                                 LEGAL MATTERS
 
  The validity of the shares of Common Stock offered hereby will be passed
upon for the Company by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Palo Alto,
California. Certain legal matters in connection with the Common Stock offered
hereby will be passed upon for the Underwriters by Skadden, Arps, Slate,
Meagher & Flom LLP, Los Angeles, California.
 

                                    EXPERTS
 
  The consolidated financial statements as of and for the period from
inception (January 31, 1995) to December 31, 1995 and as of and for the year
ended December 31, 1996 appearing in this Prospectus and Registration
Statement have been audited by Arthur Andersen LLP, independent public
accountants, as set forth in their report with respect thereto and are
included herein in reliance upon the authority of said firm as experts in
giving said report.
 
                            ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
 
  A Registration Statement on Form S-1, including amendments thereto, relating
to the Common Stock offered hereby has been filed by the Company with the
Securities and Exchange Commission (the "Commission"), Washington, D.C. This
Prospectus does not contain all of the information set forth in the
Registration Statement and the exhibits and schedules thereto. Statements
contained in this Prospectus as to the contents of any contract or other
document referred to are not necessarily complete and in each instance
reference is made to the copy of such contract or other document filed as an
exhibit to the Registration Statement, each such statement being qualified in
all respects by such reference. For further information with respect to the
Company and the Common Stock offered hereby, reference is made to such
Registration Statement, exhibits and schedules. A copy of the Registration
Statement may be inspected by anyone without charge at the Commission's
principal office, 450 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20549, the New York
Regional Office located at 7 World Trade Center, 13th Floor, New York, NY
10048, and the Chicago Regional Office located at Northwestern Atrium Center,
500 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL 60661, and copies of all or any part
thereof, including any exhibit thereto, may be obtained from the Commission
upon the payment of certain fees prescribed by the Commission. The Commission
maintains a World Wide Web Site that contains reports, proxy and information
statements and other information regarding registrants that file
electronically with the Commission. The address of the site is
http://www.sec.gov.
 
 
                                      62

<PAGE>
 
                            AUTO-BY-TEL CORPORATION
                                AND SUBSIDIARIES
 
                   INDEX TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                                            PAGE
                                                                            ----
   <S>                                                                      <C>
   Report of Independent Public Accountants................................ F-2
   Consolidated Balance Sheets............................................. F-3
   Consolidated Statements of Operations................................... F-4
   Consolidated Statements of Stockholders' Equity......................... F-5
   Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows................................... F-6
   Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.............................. F-7
</TABLE>

 
                                      F-1

<PAGE>
 

                   REPORT OF INDEPENDENT PUBLIC ACCOUNTANTS
 
To the Board of Directors and Shareholders of
Auto-By-Tel Corporation:
 
  We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheets of Auto-By-Tel
Corporation (a Delaware corporation) and subsidiaries as of December 31, 1995
and 1996, and the related consolidated statements of operations, stockholders'
equity and cash flows for the period from inception (January 31, 1995) to
December 31, 1995 and the year ended December 31, 1996. These financial
statements are the responsibility of the Company's management. Our
responsibility is to express an opinion on these financial statements based on
our audits.
 
  We conducted our audits in accordance with generally accepted auditing
standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to
obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of
material misstatement. An audit includes examining, on a test basis, evidence
supporting the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. An audit
also includes assessing the accounting principles used and significant
estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall financial
statement presentation. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis
for our opinion.
 
  In our opinion, the financial statements referred to above present fairly,
in all material respects, the financial position of Auto-By-Tel Corporation
and subsidiaries as of December 31, 1995 and 1996, and the results of their
operations and their cash flows for the period from inception (January 31,
1995) to December 31, 1995 and the year ended December 31, 1996 in conformity
with generally accepted accounting principles.
 
 
                                                    ARTHUR ANDERSEN LLP
 
Orange County, California
January 22, 1997,

(except Note 8, as to which the date is January 30, 1997)
 
                                      F-2

<PAGE>
 
                    AUTO-BY-TEL CORPORATION AND SUBSIDIARIES
 
                          CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                     DECEMBER 31,               PRO FORMA
                                ------------------------   STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY
                                   1995         1996       DECEMBER  31, 1996
                                -----------  -----------  ---------------------
                                                               (UNAUDITED)
                                                               (NOTE 8.C.)
<S>                             <C>          <C>          <C>
            ASSETS
Current assets:
  Cash and cash equivalents,
   includes restricted amounts
   of $0 and $985,000,
   respectively................ $    48,000  $ 9,062,000
  Accounts receivable, net of
   allowance for doubtful
   accounts of $20,000 and
   $162,000, respectively......      14,000      298,000
  Prepaid advertisement........         --       716,000
  Other........................     114,000      186,000
                                -----------  -----------
    Total current assets.......     176,000   10,262,000
Property and equipment, net....     102,000    1,425,000
Other assets...................       7,000      611,000
                                -----------  -----------
    Total assets............... $   285,000  $12,298,000
                                ===========  ===========
 LIABILITIES AND STOCKHOLDERS'
             EQUITY
Current liabilities:
  Accounts payable............. $    87,000  $   651,000
  Deferred revenue.............     356,000    2,326,000
  Customer deposits............         --       554,000
  Other current liabilities....      16,000      771,000
  Due to shareholder...........     816,000          --
                                -----------  -----------
    Total current liabilities..   1,275,000    4,302,000
                                -----------  -----------
Commitments and contingencies
Stockholders' equity:
  Convertible preferred stock,
   Series A, $0.001 par value,
   1,500,000 shares authorized;
   none issued and outstanding
   at December 31, 1995;
   1,500,000 shares issued and
   outstanding at December 31,
   1996, aggregate liquidation
   preference of $15,000,000
   (5,000,000 shares
   authorized, none issued and
   outstanding, pro forma).....         --         2,000       $       --
  Common stock, $0.001 par
   value; 16,666,666 shares
   authorized; none issued and
   outstanding at December 31,
   1995; 12,427,221 shares
   issued and outstanding at
   December 31, 1996
   (50,000,000 shares
   authorized, 15,895,136
   shares issued and
   outstanding, pro forma).....         --        12,000            16,000
  Members' interests/additional
   paid-in capital.............      40,000   15,073,000        24,121,000
  Deferred compensation........         --       (26,000)          (26,000)
  Accumulated deficit..........  (1,030,000)  (7,065,000)       (7,065,000)
                                -----------  -----------       -----------
    Total stockholders' equity
     (deficit).................    (990,000)   7,996,000       $17,046,000
                                -----------  -----------       -----------
    Total liabilities and
     stockholders' equity...... $   285,000  $12,298,000
                                ===========  ===========
</TABLE>

 
   The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated balance
                                    sheets.
 
                                      F-3

<PAGE>
 
                    AUTO-BY-TEL CORPORATION AND SUBSIDIARIES
 
                     CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                               INCEPTION
                                           (JANUARY 31, 1995)
                                                   TO            YEAR ENDED
                                           DECEMBER 31, 1995  DECEMBER 31, 1996
                                           ------------------ -----------------
<S>                                        <C>                <C>
Revenues..................................    $   274,000        $ 5,025,000
                                              -----------        -----------
Operating expenses:
  Marketing and advertising...............        476,000          4,439,000
  Selling, training and support...........        454,000          3,193,000
  Technology development..................         99,000          1,393,000
  General and administrative..............        275,000          2,159,000
                                              -----------        -----------
                                                1,304,000         11,184,000
                                              -----------        -----------
    Loss from operations..................     (1,030,000)        (6,159,000)
                                              -----------        -----------
Other income (expense):
  Interest income.........................            --             148,000
  Interest expense........................            --             (24,000)
                                              -----------        -----------
                                                      --             124,000
                                              -----------        -----------
    Net loss..............................    $(1,030,000)       $(6,035,000)
                                              ===========        ===========
Net loss per common and common equivalent
 share....................................    $      (.07)       $      (.38)
                                              ===========        ===========
Weighted average common and common
 equivalent shares outstanding............     15,262,262         15,792,293
                                              ===========        ===========
</TABLE>

 
 
 The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated statements.
 
                                      F-4

<PAGE>
 
                    AUTO-BY-TEL CORPORATION AND SUBSIDIARIES
 
                CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                              
                                                              
                                                              
                              SERIES A                        
                            CONVERTIBLE                        MEMBERS'
                          PREFERRED STOCK     COMMON STOCK     INTEREST/
                          ---------------- ------------------ ADDITIONAL
                          NUMBER OF        NUMBER OF            PAID-IN      DEFERRED   ACCUMULATED   STOCKHOLDERS'
                           SHARES   AMOUNT   SHARES   AMOUNT    CAPITAL    COMPENSATION   DEFICIT    EQUITY (DEFICIT)
                          --------- ------ ---------- ------- -----------  ------------ -----------  ----------------
<S>                       <C>       <C>    <C>        <C>     <C>          <C>          <C>          <C>
Balance, Inception
 (January 31, 1995).....        --  $  --         --  $   --  $       --     $    --    $       --      $      --
 Sale of members'
  interest in ABT for
  cash..................        --     --         --      --       40,000         --            --          40,000
 Net loss...............        --     --         --      --          --          --     (1,030,000)    (1,030,000)
                          --------- ------ ---------- ------- -----------    --------   -----------     ----------
Balance, December 31,
 1995...................        --     --         --      --       40,000         --     (1,030,000)      (990,000)
                          --------- ------ ---------- ------- -----------    --------   -----------     ----------
 Sale of members'
  interest in ABTAC for
  cash..................        --     --         --      --       50,000         --            --          50,000
 Issuance of Common
  Stock in exchange for
  members' interest.....        --     --  12,374,999  12,000     (12,000)        --            --             --
 Issuance of Common
  Stock options with an
  exercise price of
  $0.60 per share.......        --     --         --      --       87,000     (87,000)          --             --
 Issuance of Series A
  Preferred Stock at
  $10.00 per share for
  cash, net of costs of
  $135,000..............  1,450,000  2,000        --      --   14,363,000         --            --      14,365,000
 Issuance of Series A
  Preferred Stock at
  $10.00 per share upon
  conversion of debt....     50,000    --         --      --      500,000         --            --         500,000
 Issuance of Common
  Stock for services in
  August 1996...........        --     --      10,000     --       20,000         --            --          20,000
 Issuance of Common
  Stock upon exercise of
  stock options.........        --     --      42,222     --       25,000         --            --          25,000
 Amortization of
  deferred compensation.        --     --         --      --          --       61,000           --          61,000
 Net loss...............        --     --         --      --          --          --     (6,035,000)    (6,035,000)
                          --------- ------ ---------- ------- -----------    --------   -----------     ----------
Balance, December 31,
 1996...................  1,500,000 $2,000 12,427,221 $12,000 $15,073,000    $(26,000)  $(7,065,000)    $7,996,000
                          ========= ====== ========== ======= ===========    ========   ===========     ==========
</TABLE>

 
 
 
 The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated statements.
 
                                      F-5

<PAGE>
 
                    AUTO-BY-TEL CORPORATION AND SUBSIDIARIES
 
                     CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CASH FLOWS
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                              INCEPTION
                                          (JANUARY 31, 1995)     YEAR ENDED
                                         TO DECEMBER 31, 1995 DECEMBER 31, 1996
                                         -------------------- -----------------
<S>                                      <C>                  <C>
Cash flows from operating activities:
  Net loss..............................     $(1,030,000)        $(6,035,000)
  Adjustments to reconcile net loss to
   net cash used in operating
   activities--
    Depreciation and amortization.......          25,000             178,000
    Provision for bad debt..............          20,000             145,000
    Amortization of deferred
     compensation.......................             --               61,000
    Changes in assets and liabilities:
      Increase in accounts receivable...         (34,000)           (429,000)
      Increase in prepaid advertisement.             --             (716,000)
      Increase in other current assets..        (114,000)            (72,000)
      Increase in other assets..........          (7,000)           (604,000)
      Increase in accounts payable......          87,000             564,000
      Increase in deferred revenue......         356,000           1,970,000
      Increase in customer deposits.....             --              554,000
      Increase in other current
       liabilities......................          16,000             775,000
                                             -----------         -----------
        Net cash used in operating
         activities.....................        (681,000)         (3,609,000)
                                             -----------         -----------
Cash flows from investing activities:
  Purchases of property and equipment...        (127,000)         (1,501,000)
                                             -----------         -----------
Cash flows from financing activities:
  Proceeds from sale of common stock....             --               25,000
  Proceeds from sale of members'
   interest in ABT......................          40,000                 --
  Proceeds from sale of members'
   interest in ABTAC....................             --               50,000
  Proceeds from issuance of Series A
   Preferred Stock, net.................             --           14,365,000
  Proceeds from issuance of notes
   payable..............................         816,000             765,000
  Repayments of notes payable...........             --           (1,081,000)
                                             -----------         -----------
        Net cash provided by financing
         activities.....................         856,000          14,124,000
                                             -----------         -----------
Net increase in cash and cash
 equivalents............................          48,000           9,014,000
Cash and cash equivalents, at beginning
 of period..............................             --               48,000
                                             -----------         -----------
Cash and cash equivalents, at end of
 period.................................     $    48,000         $ 9,062,000
                                             ===========         ===========
Supplemental disclosures of cash flow
 information:
  Cash paid during the period for income
   taxes................................     $     2,000         $     4,000
                                             ===========         ===========
  Cash paid during the period for
   interest.............................     $       --          $    24,000
                                             ===========         ===========
Supplemental disclosure of noncash
 activities:
  During August 1996, 50,000 shares of
   Series A Preferred Stock were issued
   in exchange for $500,000 previously
   advanced to the Company under three
   notes payable.

  During September 1996, 10,000 shares
   of Common Stock with a fair market
   value of $20,000 were issued for
   consulting services
  During May 1996, 12,374,999 shares of
   Common Stock were issued to founding
   shareholders in exchange for members'
   interests
</TABLE>

 
 The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated statements.
 
                                      F-6

<PAGE>
 
                            AUTO-BY-TEL CORPORATION
                               AND SUBSIDIARIES
 
                  NOTES TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
 
(1) THE COMPANY AND SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT ACCOUNTING POLICIES
 
  a. The Company
 
  Auto-By-Tel Corporation (the Company) is establishing a nationally branded
Internet-based marketing service for new and used vehicles and related
consumer services. The Company's Web site (www.autobytel.com) enables
consumers to gather information on automobiles and light duty trucks
(vehicles) and shop for vehicles and related consumer services from their home
or office. The Company's services are free to consumers and, to date, the
Company has derived substantially all of its revenues from fees paid by
subscribing dealerships located in the United States and Canada.
 
  The business commenced operations as a limited liability company (See Note
5.b.).
 
  b. Principles of Consolidation
 
  The accompanying consolidated financial statements include the accounts of
the Company, its predecessors (See Note 5.b.) and its wholly-owned
subsidiaries: Auto-By-Tel Marketing Corporation, Auto-By-Tel Acceptance
Corporation, Auto-By-Tel Insurance Services, Inc. and Auto-By-Tel Canada,
Inc.. All intercompany transactions and balances have been eliminated.
 
  c. Cash and Cash Equivalents
 
  All highly liquid investments with a maturity of three months or less when
purchased are considered to be cash equivalents and those with maturities
greater than three months are considered to be short-term investments.
 
  d. Property and Equipment
 
  Property and equipment are stated at cost. Depreciation is provided using
the straight-line method over the estimated useful lives of the respective
assets, generally three years. Leasehold improvements are stated at cost.
Amortization is provided using the straight-line method over the lesser of the
lease term or the estimated useful lives of the respective assets.
 
  e. Revenue Recognition
 
  Substantially all revenues to date have consisted of marketing fees paid by
franchises of subscribing dealerships. These marketing fees are comprised of
an initial fee, a monthly fee and an annual fee. The initial fee and annual
fee are recognized ratably over the service period of 12 months. The monthly
fee is recognized in the period the service is provided. Deferred revenue is
comprised of unamortized initial and annual fees.
 
  f. Advertising and Promotion Costs
 
  Advertising and promotion costs consist primarily of fees paid to automotive
information providers, online services providers, online search engines and
print advertising. Advertising and promotion costs are recorded as expense in
the period that the advertisement appears or the service is provided.
 
  g. Technology Development
 
  Technology development expenses consist primarily of personnel and related
compensation costs and contract labor to support software development and
configuration and implementation of the Company's Internet, telecommunications
and support system infrastructure. Technology development expenditures are
charged to expense as incurred.
 
 
                                      F-7

<PAGE>
 
                            AUTO-BY-TEL CORPORATION
                               AND SUBSIDIARIES
 
            NOTES TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS--(CONTINUED)
 
 
  h. Stock-Based Compensation
 
  The Company accounts for stock-based compensation issued to employees using
the intrinsic value based method as prescribed by APB Opinion No. 25
"Accounting for Stock Issued to Employees" (APB No. 25). Under the intrinsic
value based method, compensation is the excess, if any, of the fair value of
the stock at grant date or other measurement date over the amount an employee
must pay to acquire the stock. Compensation, if any, is recognized over the
applicable service period, which is usually the vesting period.
 
  In October 1995, the Financial Accounting Standards Board issued Statement
of Financial Accounting Standards (SFAS) No. 123, "Accounting for Stock-Based
Compensation" (SFAS No. 123). This standard, if fully adopted, changes the
methods of accounting for employee stock-based compensation plans to the fair
value based method. For stock options, fair value is determined using an
option-pricing model that takes into account the stock price at the grant
date, the exercise price, the expected life of the option, the volatility of
the underlying stock (not applicable for private entities), expected dividends
and the risk-free interest rate over the expected life of the option.
Compensation expense, if any, is recognized over the applicable service
period, which is usually the vesting period.
 
  The adoption of the accounting methodology of SFAS No. 123 is optional and
the Company has elected to continue accounting for stock-based compensation
issued to employees using APB No. 25; however, pro forma disclosures as if the
Company adopted the cost recognition requirements under SFAS No. 123 are
required to be presented (See Note 7).
 
  i. Income Taxes
 
  The Company accounts for income taxes using the asset and liability method
as prescribed by SFAS No. 109, "Accounting for Income Taxes" (SFAS No. 109).
Under the asset and liability method, deferred income tax assets and
liabilities are determined based on the differences between the financial
reporting and tax basis of assets and liabilities and are measured using the
currently enacted tax rates and laws.
 
  Prior to May 31, 1996, the business operated as limited liability companies
taxed as partnerships under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of
1986 (Internal Revenue Code). Under those provisions, the Company was not
subject to corporate income taxes on its taxable income. Instead, the
Company's taxable income or loss prior to May 31, 1996 is includable in the
individual income tax returns of its members.
 
  Effective May 31, 1996, as a result the reorganization under the terms of a
Contribution Agreement and Plan of Organization, the business was reorganized
as a C Corporation under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code (See Note
5.b.). The reorganization required that the Company record the cumulative tax
effect of temporary differences between book income and taxable income as
deferred tax assets and deferred tax liabilities (net of valuation allowance)
in accordance with SFAS No. 109. At May 31, 1996, the cumulative tax effect of
these temporary differences was immaterial.
 
  j. Use of Estimates
 
  The preparation of financial statements in conformity with generally
accepted accounting principles requires management to make estimates and
assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and
disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial
statements and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the
reporting period. Actual results could differ from those estimates.
 
                                      F-8

<PAGE>
 
                            AUTO-BY-TEL CORPORATION
                               AND SUBSIDIARIES
 
            NOTES TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS--(CONTINUED)
 
 
  k. Fair Value of Financial Instruments
 
  The carrying amount of the Company's financial instruments approximates fair
value.
 
  l. Concentration of Credit Risk
 
  Financial instruments that potentially subject the Company to significant
concentrations of credit risk consist primarily of cash and cash equivalents,
and accounts receivable. Substantially all of the Company's cash and cash
equivalents are invested in one money market fund with underlying assets
consisting primarily of commercial paper.
 
  To date, accounts receivable have been derived from marketing fees billed to
franchises of subscribing dealerships located in the United States and Canada.
The Company generally requires no collateral. The Company maintains reserves
for potential credit losses; historically, such losses have been minor and
within management's expectations. From inception (January 31, 1995) through
December 31, 1996, no subscribing dealership franchise accounted for greater
than 10% of the accounts receivable or revenue of the Company.
 
  The Company conducts its business within one industry segment within the
United States and Canada. Revenues from customers outside of the United States
were less than 10% of total revenues for all periods presented in the
accompanying consolidated statements of operations.
 
  m. Foreign Currency Translation
 
  Assets and liabilities of the Canadian operations are remeasured from
Canadian dollars into U.S. dollars in accordance with Financial Accounting
Standards Board Statement No. 52. Revenues and expenses are translated at
average monthly exchange rates prevailing during the period. Resulting
translation adjustments are immaterial.
 
  n. New Accounting Pronouncements
 
  The Company adopted SFAS No. 121, "Accounting for the Impairment of Long-
Lived Assets and for Long-Lived Assets to be Disposed of" on January 1, 1996.
This standard requires that long-lived assets and certain identifiable
intangibles held and used by an entity be reviewed for impairment whenever
events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of an
asset may not be recoverable. The adoption of this standard did not have a
material impact on the consolidated financial statements.
 
  o. Net Loss Per Share
 
  Net loss per share is computed based on the weighted average number of
shares of common stock outstanding and common equivalent shares from stock
options (under the treasury stock method, if dilutive). In accordance with
certain SEC Staff Accounting Bulletins, such computations include all common
equivalent shares (using the treasury stock method and the anticipated public
offering price) issued twelve months prior to the filing of the Initial Public
Offering (IPO) as if they were outstanding for all periods presented.
Furthermore, common equivalent shares from convertible preferred stock that
will automatically convert upon the completion of the Company's proposed IPO
are included in the calculation for all periods presented as if converted
using the treasury stock method.
 
                                      F-9

<PAGE>
 
                            AUTO-BY-TEL CORPORATION
                               AND SUBSIDIARIES
 
            NOTES TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS--(CONTINUED)
 
 
(2) PROPERTY AND EQUIPMENT
 
  Property and equipment consists of the following:
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                DECEMBER 31,
                             --------------------
                               1995       1996                 ASSET LIVES
                             --------  ----------  -----------------------------------
   <S>                       <C>       <C>         <C>
   Computer hardware.......  $ 88,000  $1,125,000  3 years
   Furniture and equipment.    39,000     412,000  3 years
   Leasehold improvements..       --       77,000  5 years or term of lease if shorter
                             --------  ----------
                              127,000   1,614,000
   Less--Accumulated
    depreciation and
    amortization...........   (25,000)   (189,000)
                             --------  ----------
                             $102,000  $1,425,000
                             ========  ==========
</TABLE>

 
(3) DUE TO SHAREHOLDER
 
  During 1995 and 1996, the Company's Chairman and co-founder advanced funds
to the Company totaling $1,081,000. During 1996, these advances were converted
to notes that were payable on demand and bore interest at a rate of 8% per
annum. These notes were paid in full using the proceeds of the Series A
Preferred Stock offering (See Note 5.a).
 
(4) INCOME TAXES
 
  No provision for federal and state income taxes has been recorded as the
Company incurred net operating losses through December 31, 1996. As of
December 31, 1996, the Company had approximately $4.7 million of federal and
state net operating loss carryforwards available to offset future taxable
income; such carryforwards expire in various years through 2011. Under the Tax
Reform Act of 1986, the amounts of and benefits from net operating losses
carried forward may be impaired or limited in certain circumstances. Events
which may cause limitations in the amount of net operating losses that the
Company may utilize in any one year include, but are not limited to, a
cumulative ownership change of more than 50% over a three year period. As of
December 31, 1996, the effect of such limitation, if imposed, has not been
determined.
 
  Net deferred income tax assets, totaling approximately $2.0 million at
December 31, 1996, consist primarily of the tax effect of net operating loss
carryforwards, reserves and accrued expenses which are not yet deductible for
tax purposes. The Company has provided a full valuation allowance on these
deferred income tax assets because of the uncertainty regarding their
realization.
 
(5) STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY
 
  a. Series A Convertible Preferred Stock
 
  On August 22, 1996, the Board of Directors of the Company authorized
1,500,000 shares of Series A Convertible Preferred Stock (Series A Preferred).
On August 23, 1996, the Company completed the sale of 1,500,000 shares of
Series A Preferred at $10.00 per share through a private placement offering.
Of the total shares sold, 50,000 shares were issued to an individual in
exchange for $500,000 previously advanced to the Company under three notes
payable. In addition, $1,081,000 of the proceeds were used to repay notes due
to the Company's Chairman and co-founder.
 
                                     F-10

<PAGE>
 
                            AUTO-BY-TEL CORPORATION
                               AND SUBSIDIARIES
 
            NOTES TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS--(CONTINUED)
 
  Each share of Series A Preferred will be automatically converted into 1.67
shares of common stock upon the earliest of (i) the closing of an underwritten
public offering of the Company's common stock with a minimum per share price
of $9.00 per share, and minimum aggregate proceeds of $30 million; (ii) the
written consent of two-thirds of the holders of Series A Preferred; or (iii)
when fewer than 300,000 shares of Series A Preferred remain outstanding. Each
share of Series A Preferred is also convertible into 1.67 shares of common
stock at the option of the holder. The Company has reserved 2,500,000 shares
of common stock to permit the conversion of the Series A Preferred.
 
  Holders of Series A Preferred are entitled to one vote for each share of
common stock into which such shares of Series A Preferred may be converted
except with respect to election of directors, whereby the holders, voting
separately as a class, shall be entitled to elect one director (to be
increased to two directors if the authorized number of total directors is
increased to greater than five members). Each share of Series A Preferred
entitles the holder to receive noncumulative dividends, if and when declared
by the Board of Directors, prior to any dividend paid on the common stock.
Dividends, if any, on Series A Preferred shall be declared at an annual rate
of $0.80 per share. As of December 31, 1996, no dividends have been declared.
 
  In the event of liquidation, the Series A Preferred has preference over the
common stock in the amount of $10.00 per share, plus declared but unpaid
dividends.
 
  b. Common Stock
 
  Auto-By-Tel LLC (ABT), a California limited liability company, was organized
in January 1995 and began operations in March 1995. ABT Acceptance Company LLC
(ABTAC), an affiliated Company under common control, was formed in February
1996. ABT and ABTAC (the LLC's) were reorganized as of May 31, 1996 pursuant
to the terms of a Contribution Agreement and Plan of Organization (the
Agreement) entered into by all of the members of the LLC's. Under the terms of
the Agreement, the interests of the members were transferred to Auto-By-Tel
Corporation, a Delaware corporation, in a tax-free transaction. As the LLC's
were under common control, the reorganization was accounted for in a manner
similar to a pooling-of-interests whereby the assets and liabilities of ABT
and ABTAC were transferred to the Company at their historical cost. In
consideration for their respective ownership interests, the members of ABT and
ABTAC received 12,374,999 shares of common stock of the Company.
 
  c. Stock Split and Increase of Authorized Shares
 
  On November 24, 1996, the Board of Directors authorized a 5-for-3 stock
split (the Stock Split) of the Company's Common Stock. All references in the
financial statements to number of shares, per share amounts and market prices
of the Company's common stock have been retroactively restated to reflect the
effect of the Stock Split. The Board of Directors has also approved, effective
upon the completion of the IPO, a recapitalization that would increase the
total of authorized shares of Common Stock to 50,000,000 and an increase in
the total number of authorized shares of preferred stock to 7,467,915.
 
                                     F-11

<PAGE>
 
                            AUTO-BY-TEL CORPORATION
                               AND SUBSIDIARIES
 
            NOTES TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS--(CONTINUED)
 
(6) COMMITMENTS
 
  a. Operating Leases
 
  The Company has an operating lease for its corporate office facilities which
expires in 2001. At December 31 , 1996, future minimum lease payments under
this noncancelable, five year operating lease are as follows:
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
   YEAR ENDING DECEMBER 31,
   ------------------------
   <S>                                                                  <C>
      1997............................................................. $142,000
      1998.............................................................  184,000
      1999.............................................................  204,000
      2000.............................................................  218,000
      2001.............................................................  150,000
                                                                        --------
                                                                        $898,000
                                                                        ========
</TABLE>

 
  Rent expense was $22,000 and $92,000 for the period from inception (January
31, 1995) to December 31, 1995 and the year ended December 31, 1996,
respectively.
 
  b. Marketing Agreements
 
  The Company has multi-year agreements with automotive information providers
that make available to consumers vehicle research data over the Internet. Such
agreements are generally for a term of three to five years and require that
the Company pay fees to these companies based on the volume of information
received by the Company from these services. The minimum annual commitments
under these agreements aggregate to $120,000.
 
  c. Letter of Credit
 
  In connection with the Company's lease of its principal offices, the
Company's Chairman co-signed a letter of credit and pledged a personal
certificate of deposit as collateral. The Company's chairman has also
personally guaranteed the Company's Merchant Card Agreement, and has provided
a personal guarantee to the financial institution that issued the Company's
corporate credit cards, guaranteeing the payment of all outstanding
indebtedness under these credit facilities.
 
  As of December 31, 1996, the Company had total outstanding letters of credit
of approximately $1.0 million collateralized by restricted cash balances of
approximately $985,000.
 
  d. Advertisement Purchase Commitment
 
  In November 1996, the Company entered into a commitment to purchase
approximately $1.0 million in a television advertisement to be aired during
the Super Bowl in January 1997. Such costs will be expensed in the first
quarter of 1997, when the advertisement appears.
 
(7) STOCK PLANS
 
  1996 Stock Option Plan. The Company's 1996 Stock Option Plan (the Option
Plan) was approved by the Board of Directors and the stockholders on May 18,
1996. The Option Plan provides for the granting to employees of incentive
stock options within the meaning of Section 422 of the Internal Revenue Code
of 1986, as amended (the "Code") and for the grant to employees, consultants
and directors of nonstatutory stock options.
 
                                     F-12

<PAGE>
 
                            AUTO-BY-TEL CORPORATION
                               AND SUBSIDIARIES
 
            NOTES TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS--(CONTINUED)
 
Under the Option Plan, the exercise price of all incentive stock options
granted under the Option Plan cannot be lower than the fair market value of
the Common Stock on the date of grant. With respect to any participants who,
at the time of grant, own stock possessing more than 10% of the voting power
of all classes of stock of the Company, the exercise price of any stock option
granted to such person must be at least 110% of the fair market value on the
grant date, and the maximum term of such option is five years. The term of all
other options granted under the 1996 Option Plan may be up to 10 years. On
October 23, 1996, the Board of Directors terminated the Option Plan and no
further options may be granted thereunder. Upon termination, options to
purchase an aggregate of 1,305,833 shares of Common Stock at an exercise price
of $0.60 per share were outstanding under the Option Plan.
 
  1996 Stock Incentive Plan. The Company's 1996 Stock Incentive Plan (the
Incentive Plan) provides for the granting to employees of incentive stock
options within the meaning of Section 422 of the Code, and for the granting to
employees, directors and consultants of nonstatutory stock options and stock
purchase rights (SPRs). The Incentive Plan was approved by the Board of
Directors on October 23, 1996, amended by the Board of Directors on November
24, 1996 and approved by the stockholders on January 16, 1997. A total of
2,268,333 shares of Common Stock are currently reserved for issuance under the
Incentive Plan. Shares available for future grant under the Incentive Plan
will be increased as of the first day of each new fiscal year during the term
of the Incentive Plan by the number of shares issuable upon exercise of
options granted thereunder in the previous fiscal year, net of returns.
 
  Non-employee directors are entitled to participate in the Company's
Incentive Plan. The Incentive Plan provides for an automatic grant of an
option to purchase 16,666 shares of Common Stock to each non-employee director
on the date on which the Incentive Plan becomes effective or, if later, on the
date on which the person first becomes a non-employee director. In each
successive year the non-employee director shall automatically be granted an
option to purchase 4,166 shares on November 1 of each subsequent year provided
the non-employee director has served on the Board for at least six months.
Each option shall have a term of ten years. Such options vest at various rates
over 36 months and the exercise price per share shall be 100% of the fair
market value of the Company's Common Stock on the date of the grant of the
option.
 
  1996 Employee Stock Purchase Plan. The Company's 1996 Employee Stock
Purchase Plan (the Purchase Plan) was adopted by the Board of Directors on
November 18, 1996 and approved by the stockholders on January 16, 1997. The
Company has reserved a total of 666,666 shares of Common Stock for issuance
under the Purchase Plan. Shares available for future issuance under the
Purchase Plan will be increased as of the first day of each new fiscal year
during the term of the Purchase Plan by the number of shares issued thereunder
in the prior fiscal year. The Purchase Plan, which is intended to qualify
under Section 423 of the Code, as amended, permits eligible employees of the
Company to purchase shares of Common Stock through payroll deductions of up to
ten percent of their compensation, up to a certain maximum amount for all
purchase periods ending within any calendar year.
 
  The price of Common Stock purchased under the Purchase Plan will be 85% of
the lower of the fair market value of the Common Stock on the first or last
day of each six month purchase period. Employees may end their participation
in the Purchase Plan at any time during an offering period, and they will be
paid their payroll deductions to date. Participation ends automatically upon
termination of employment with the Company. Rights granted under the Purchase
Plan are not transferable by a participant other than by will, the laws of
descent and distribution, or as otherwise provided under the plan.
 
  During the year ended December 31, 1996, the Company granted options under
the aforementioned plans to purchase an aggregate of 2,352,066 shares of
Common Stock at various exercise prices ranging from $0.60 to $7.50 per share.
During the year ended December 31, 1996, the Company has recorded, based upon
an
 
                                     F-13

<PAGE>
 
                            AUTO-BY-TEL CORPORATION
                               AND SUBSIDIARIES
 
            NOTES TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS--(CONTINUED)
 
independent appraisal obtained by the Company's Board of Directors, $87,000 of
deferred compensation expense relating to certain options. This amount will be
amortized over the vesting periods of the options, which is generally one to
three years. Amortization of deferred compensation for the year ended December
31, 1996 was $61,000.
 
  A summary of the status of the Company's stock options as of December 31,
1996 and changes during the period is presented below:

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                                      WEIGHTED-
                                                                       AVERAGE
                                                                      EXERCISE
                                                            OPTIONS     PRICE
                                                           ---------  ---------
   <S>                                                     <C>        <C>
   Outstanding at December 31, 1995......................        --       --
   Granted...............................................  2,352,066   $ 2.16
   Exercised.............................................    (42,222)    0.60
   Canceled..............................................    (29,029)    0.60
                                                           ---------   ------
   Outstanding at December 31, 1996......................  2,280,815   $ 2.21
                                                           =========   ======
   Options exercisable at December 31, 1996..............    586,111   $ 0.60
                                                           =========   ======
   Options available for future grant....................  1,250,000
                                                           =========
   Weighted-average fair value of options granted during
    the year whose exercise price is less than the market
    price of the stock on the grant date (254,167
    options).............................................  $    1.63   $ 0.60
                                                           =========   ======
   Weighted-average fair value of options granted during
    the year whose exercise price exceeds the market
    price of the stock on the grant date (2,097,899
    options).............................................  $    0.77   $ 2.35
                                                           =========   ======
</TABLE>

 
  The fair value of each option granted during 1996 is estimated using the
Black-Scholes option-pricing model on the date of grant using the following
assumptions: (i) no dividend yield, (ii) volatility of effectively zero
(required for public companies only), (iii) weighted-average risk-free
interest rate of approximately 6.70%, and (iv) expected life of 6 years.
 
  The following table summarizes information about stock options outstanding
at December 31, 1996:
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                    OPTIONS OUTSTANDING                      OPTIONS EXERCISABLE
     -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                         WEIGHTED-AVERAGE   NUMBER
     EXERCISE PRICE   NUMBER OUTSTANDING CONTRACTUAL LIFE EXERCISABLE EXERCISE PRICE
     --------------   ------------------ ---------------- ----------- --------------
     <S>              <C>                <C>              <C>         <C>
         $0.60            1,262,482         9.5 years       586,111       $0.60
         $3.00              741,667         9.8 years           --          --
         $6.00               12,500         9.9 years           --          --
         $7.50              264,166         9.9 years           --          --
</TABLE>

 
  Had compensation cost for the Company's 1996 grants for its stock-based
compensation plan been determined consistent with SFAS No. 123, the Company's
net loss, and net loss per common share for the year ended December 31, 1996
would approximate the pro forma amounts below:
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                      AS REPORTED   PRO FORMA
                                                      -----------  -----------
   <S>                                                <C>          <C>
   Net loss.......................................... $(6,035,000) $(6,270,000)
                                                      ===========  ===========
   Net loss per common share......................... $     (0.38) $     (0.40)
                                                      ===========  ===========
</TABLE>

 
 
                                     F-14

<PAGE>
 
                            AUTO-BY-TEL CORPORATION
                               AND SUBSIDIARIES
 
            NOTES TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS--(CONTINUED)
 
  The effects of applying SFAS 123 in this pro forma disclosure are not
indicative of future amounts.
 
(8) SUBSEQUENT EVENTS AND PRO FORMA PRESENTATION
 
  a. Series B Convertible Preferred Stock Sale
 
  On January 24, 1997, the Board of Directors of the Company authorized
967,915 shares of Series B Convertible Preferred Stock (Series B Preferred).
On January 30, 1997, the Company completed the sale of 967,915 shares of
Series B Preferred at $9.35 per share through a private placement offering.
 
  Each share of Series B Preferred will be automatically converted into one
share of common stock upon the earliest of (i) the closing of an underwritten
public offering of the Company's common stock with a minimum per share price
of $9.00 per share, and minimum aggregate proceeds of $30 million; (ii) the
written consent of two-thirds of the holders of Series B Preferred; or (iii)
when fewer than 300,000 shares of Series B Preferred remain outstanding. Each
share of Series B Preferred is also convertible into one share of common stock
at the option of the holder. The Company has reserved 1,309,686 shares of
common stock to permit the conversion of the Series B Preferred.
 
  Holders of Series B Preferred are entitled to one vote for each share of
common stock into which such shares of Series B Preferred may be converted
except with respect to election of directors, whereby the holders, voting
separately as a class, shall be entitled to elect one director (to be
increased to two directors if the authorized number of total directors is
increased to greater than five members). Each share of Series B Preferred
entitles the holder to receive noncumulative dividends, if and when declared
by the Board of Directors, prior to any dividend paid on the common stock.
Dividends, if any, on Series B Preferred shall be declared at an annual rate
of $0.75 per share. No dividends have been declared.
 
  In the event of liquidation, the Series B Preferred has preference over the
common stock in the amount of $9.35 per share, plus declared but unpaid
dividends.
 
  b. Stock Option Grants
 
  On January 24, 1997 the Company granted options to various employees to
purchase 124,750 shares of common stock at an exercise price of $8.80 per
share, the estimated fair market value as determined by the Board of
Directors.
 
  c. Unaudited Pro Forma Presentation
 
  On January 24, 1997, the Board of Directors authorized the filing of a
registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission permitting
the Company to sell shares of its common stock in connection with an IPO. If
the offering is consummated under the terms presently anticipated, each share
of Series A and Series B Convertible Preferred Stock outstanding at January
30, 1997 will automatically convert to 1.67 and 1.0 shares, respectively, of
common stock upon closing of the IPO. The effect of the sale of the Series B
Preferred discussed above and the conversion of Series A Preferred outstanding
at December 31, 1996 (See Note 5.a) has been reflected in the accompanying
unaudited pro forma balance sheet as of December 31, 1996.
 
 
 
                                     F-15

<PAGE>

- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
  No dealer, salesperson or other person has been authorized to give any
information or to make any representations in connection with this offering
other than those contained in this Prospectus, and if given or made, such
information or representations must not be relied upon as having been
authorized by the Company or any of the Underwriters. This Prospectus does not
constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any securities
other than the shares of Common Stock to which it relates or an offer to, or a
solicitation of, any person in any jurisdiction where such an offer or
solicitation would be unlawful. Neither the delivery of this Prospectus nor any
sale made hereunder shall, under any circumstances, create any implication that
there has been no change in the affairs of the Company or that the information
contained herein is correct as of any time subsequent to the date hereof.
 
                             ---------------------
 
 
                              TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
                             ---------------------
 

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                                            Page
                                                                            ----
<S>                                                                         <C>
Prospectus Summary.........................................................   3
Risk Factors...............................................................   6
Use of Proceeds............................................................  17
Dividend Policy............................................................  17
Capitalization.............................................................  18
Dilution...................................................................  19
Selected Consolidated Financial Data.......................................  20
Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial
 Condition and Results of Operations.......................................  21
Business...................................................................  28
Management.................................................................  44
Certain Transactions.......................................................  53
Principal and Selling Stockholders.........................................  55
Description of Capital Stock...............................................  56
Shares Eligible for Future Sale............................................  58
Underwriting...............................................................  60
Legal Matters..............................................................  62
Experts....................................................................  62
Additional Information.....................................................  62
Index to Consolidated Financial Statements................................. F-1
</TABLE>

 
  Until        , 1997 (25 days after the date of this Prospectus) all dealers
effecting transactions in the registration securities, whether or not
participating in this distribution, may be required to deliver a Prospectus.
This is in addition to the obligation of dealers to deliver a Prospectus when
acting as underwriters and with respect to their unsold allotments or
subscriptions.
 
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                4,000,000 SHARES
 
                      [LOGO OF AUTO-BY-TEL APPEARS HERE]
 
 
                                  COMMON STOCK
 
                                ---------------
 
                                   PROSPECTUS
 
                                ---------------
 
                             MONTGOMERY SECURITIES
 
                                COWEN & COMPANY
 
                         ROBERTSON, STEPHENS & COMPANY
 
 
                                      , 1997
 
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

<PAGE>
 

                                    PART II
 
                    INFORMATION NOT REQUIRED IN PROSPECTUS
 

ITEM 13. OTHER EXPENSES OF ISSUANCE AND DISTRIBUTION
 
  The following table sets forth all expenses, other than underwriting
discounts and commissions, payable by the Company in connection with the sale
of the Common Shares being registered. All of the amounts shown are estimates
except for the SEC registration fee and the NASD filing fee.
 

<TABLE>
     <S>                                                             <C>
     SEC Registration Fee........................................... $   19,068
     NASD Filing Fee................................................      6,710
     Nasdaq National Market Listing Fee.............................     49,000
     Blue Sky Qualification Fees and Expenses.......................      5,000
     Printing and Engraving Expenses................................    150,000
     Legal Fees and Expenses........................................    400,000
     Accounting Fees and Expenses...................................    350,000
     Transfer Agent and Registrar Fees..............................      7,500
     Directors' and Officers' Insurance.............................    250,000
     Miscellaneous..................................................     62,722
                                                                     ----------
       Total........................................................ $1,300,000
                                                                     ==========
</TABLE>

 

ITEM 14. INDEMNIFICATION OF DIRECTORS AND OFFICERS
 
  The Underwriters have agreed to indemnify the Company, its directors and
each person who controls it within the meaning of Section 15 of the Securities
Act with respect to any statement in or omission from the Registration
Statement or the Prospectus or any amendment or supplement thereto if such
statement or omission was made in reliance upon information furnished in
writing to the Company by the Underwriters specifically for or in connection
with the preparation of the Registration Statement, the Prospectus, or any
such amendment or supplement thereto.
 
  Section 145 of the Delaware General Corporation Law empowers a corporation
to indemnify its directors and officers and to purchase insurance with respect
to liability arising out of their capacity or status as directors and officers
provided that this provision shall not eliminate or limit the liability of a
director: (i) for any breach of the director's duty of loyalty to the
corporation or its stockholders; (ii) for acts or omissions not in good faith
or which involve intentional misconduct or a knowing violation of law; (iii)
arising under Section 174 of the Delaware General Corporation Law; or (iv) for
any transaction from which the director derived an improper personal benefit.
 
  The Delaware General Corporation Law provides further that the
indemnification permitted thereunder shall not be deemed exclusive of any
other rights to which the directors and officers may be entitled under the
corporation's bylaws, any agreement, vote of stockholders or otherwise.
Article IX of the Company's Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation
eliminates the personal liability of directors and officers to the fullest
extent permitted by the laws of the state of Delaware.
 
  The effect of the foregoing is to require the Company to indemnify the
officers and directors of the Company for any claim arising against any such
person in their official capacities if such person acted in good faith and in
a manner that he reasonably believed to be in or not opposed to the best
interests of the corporation, and, with respect to any criminal action or
proceeding, had no reasonable cause to believe his conduct was unlawful.
 
                                     II-1

<PAGE>
 

ITEM 15. RECENT SALES OF UNREGISTERED SECURITIES
 
  Since the Company's inception, the Company has made the following sales of
securities that were not registered under the Securities Act:
 
1. On May 31, 1996, the Company issued and sold 12,374,999 shares of Common
   Stock in exchange for membership interests in Auto-By-Tel LLC and Auto-By-
   Tel Acceptance Corporation LLC, in reliance on the exemption from
   registration provided by Section 4(2) of the Securities Act.
 
2. During the period from July 3, 1996 through January 30, 1997, the Company
   issued options to purchase an aggregate of 2,476,816 shares of Common Stock
   pursuant to the Option Plan in reliance on Rule 701 promulgated under the
   Securities Act.
 
3. On August 26, 1996, the Company issued and sold 1,500,000 shares of Series
   A Preferred Stock in a private placement for an aggregate consideration of
   $15.0 million in cash and cancellation of indebtedness. In connection with
   such financing, the Company issued (i) 200,000 shares to ContiTrade
   Services L.L.C. in exchange for $2,000,000 in cash, (ii) 400,000 shares to
   National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh in exchange for
   $4,000,000 in cash, (iii) 800,000 shares to General Electric Capital
   Corporation in exchange for $8,000,000 in cash, and (iv) 100,000 Michael
   Fuchs in exchange for $1,000,000 in cash and cancellation of indebtedness.
   Sales of Series A Preferred Stock were made in reliance on the exemption
   from registration provided by Section 4(2) of the Securities Act.
 
4. On August 27, 1996, the Company issued and sold 6,000 shares to a
   consultant of the Company in reliance on Rule 701 promulgated under the
   Securities Act.
 
5. On January 30, 1997, the Company issued and sold 967,915 shares of Series B
   Preferred Stock in a private placement for an aggregate consideration of
   $9.05 million in cash. In connection with such financing, the Company
   issued (i) 133,690 shares to ContiTrade Services L.L.C. in exchange for
   $1.25 million in cash, (ii) 267,380 shares to National Union Fire Insurance
   Company of Pittsburgh in exchange for $2,500,003 million in cash, (iii)
   534,760 shares to General Electric Capital Corporation in exchange for
   $5.0 million in cash, and (iv) 32,085 shares to Michael Fuchs in exchange
   for $300,000 in cash. Sales of Series B Preferred Stock were made in
   reliance on the exemption from registration provided by Section 4(2) of the
   Securities Act.
 

ITEM 16. EXHIBITS AND FINANCIAL STATEMENT SCHEDULES
 
  (a) EXHIBITS
 

<TABLE>   
 <C>        <S>
  1.1+      Form of Underwriting Agreement (draft of January 24, 1997)
  3.1+      Restated Certificate of Incorporation of the Company certified by
             the Secretary of State of the State of Delaware
  3.2+      Restated Bylaws of Auto-By-Tel Corporation adopted October 23, 1996
  4.1+      Form of Stock Certificate
  4.2+      Amended and Restated Investors' Rights Agreement dated January 30,
             1997 among Registrant and the Investors named in Exhibit A thereto
  5.1+      Opinion and Consent of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
            Form of Indemnification Agreement between the Company and its
 10.1+      directors and officers
 10.2+      Employment Offer Letter dated October 24, 1996 from Registrant to
             Mark W. Lorimer
 10.3+      Employment Offer Letter dated December 16, 1996 from Registrant to
             John M. Markovich
</TABLE>
    
 
                                     II-2

<PAGE>
 

<TABLE>   
 <C>           <S>
 10.4+         Employment Offer Letter dated October 20, 1996 from Registrant
                to Michael Lowell
 10.5+         1996 Stock Option Plan and related agreements
 10.6+         1996 Stock Incentive Plan and related agreements
 10.7+         1996 Employee Stock Purchase Plan
 10.8*         Marketing Agreement dated July 22, 1996 among Auto-By-Tel
                Acceptance Corporation, a subsidiary of the Registrant
                ("ABTAC"), the Registrant, as guarantor of the obligations of
                ABTAC, and AIU Insurance Company, American International South
                Insurance Company, American Home Assurance Company, American
                International Insurance Company, American International
                Insurance Company of California, Inc., Illinois National
                Insurance Company, Minnesota Insurance Company, National Union
                Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA and the Insurance
                Company of the State of Pennsylvania
 10.9*         Marketing Agreement dated March 27, 1996 between Registrant and
                Microsoft Corporation
 10.10*        Advertising Agreement dated October 15, 1996 between Registrant
                and Digital City Inc.
 10.11*        Marketing Agreement dated February 8, 1996 between Registrant
                and Edmund Publications Corporation
 10.12*        Referral Agreement dated September 6, 1996 between Registrant
                and Automotive Information Center
 10.13(a)-(h)+ Forms of Dealership Subscription Agreements
 10.14+        Lease Agreement dated June 1996 between Registrant and McDonnell
                Douglas Realty Company
 10.15+        Sublease Agreement dated October 31, 1996 between Registrant and
                Silicon Valley Bank
 10.16*        Financing Inquiry Referral Agreement dated October 25, 1996
                among Registrant, as obligor, Auto-By-Tel Acceptance
                Corporation and Chase Manhattan Automotive Financial
                Corporation
 10.17*        Service Agreement dated as of February 1, 1997 between
                Registrant and Integrated Warranty Services, Inc.
 10.18*        Marketing and Application Processing Agreement dated February 1,
                1997 between General Electric Capital Auto Financial Services,
                Inc., Auto-By-Tel Acceptance Corporation ("ABTAC") and
                Registrant, as guarantor of the obligations of ABTAC
 11.1+         Statement Regarding Computation of Per Share Earnings
 21.1+         Subsidiaries of the Company
 23.1+         Consent of Arthur Andersen LLP, Independent Public Accountants
                (see Page II-5)
 23.2+         Consent of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (included in Exhibit
                5.1)
 23.3+         Consent of J.D. Power and Associates
 24.1+         Power of Attorney (see Page II-6)
 27.1+         Financial Data Schedule
</TABLE>
    
- --------
 + Previously filed.
       
*  Confidential treatment has been requested for certain portions which have
   been blacked out in the copy of the exhibit filed with the Commission. The
   omitted information has been filed separately with the Commission pursuant
   to the application for confidential treatment.
 
  (b)FINANCIAL STATEMENT SCHEDULES
 
Schedule II--Valuation and Qualifying Accounts
 

ITEM 17. UNDERTAKINGS
 
    (a) The undersigned Registrant hereby undertakes to provide to the
  underwriter at the closing specified in the underwriting agreement
  certificates in such denominations and registered in such names as required
  by the underwriter to permit prompt delivery to each purchaser.
 
                                     II-3

<PAGE>
 
    (b) Insofar as indemnification for liabilities arising under the
  Securities Act may be permitted to directors, officers and controlling
  persons of the Registrant pursuant to the foregoing provisions, or
  otherwise, the Registrant has been advised that in the opinion of the
  Commission such indemnification is against public policy as expressed in
  the Securities Act and is, therefore, unenforceable. In the event that a
  claim for indemnification against such liabilities (other than the payment
  by the Registrant of expenses incurred or paid by a director, officer or
  controlling person of the Registrant in the successful defense of any
  action, suit or proceeding) is asserted by such director, officer or
  controlling person in connection with the securities being registered, the
  Registrant will, unless in the opinion of its counsel the matter has been
  settled by controlling precedent, submit to a court of appropriate
  jurisdiction the question whether such indemnification by it is against
  public policy as expressed in the Securities Act and will be governed by
  the final adjudication of such issue.
 
    (c) The undersigned Registrant hereby undertakes that:
 
  (i) For purposes of determining any liability under the Securities Act, the
   information omitted from the form of prospectus filed as part of this
   Registration Statement in reliance upon Rule 430A and contained in a form
   of prospectus filed by the Company pursuant to Rule 424(b)(1) or (4) or
   497(h) under the Securities Act shall be deemed to be part of this
   Registration Statement as of the time it was declared effective; and
 
  (ii) For the purpose of determining any liability under the Securities Act,
   each post-effective amendment that contains a form of prospectus shall be
   deemed to be a new registration statement relating to the securities
   offered therein, and the offering of such securities at the time shall be
   deemed to be the initial bona fide offering thereof.
 
 
                                     II-4

<PAGE>
 

                                  SIGNATURES
   
  PURSUANT TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933, THE REGISTRANT
HAS DULY CAUSED THIS AMENDMENT TO THE REGISTRATION STATEMENT ON FORM S-1 TO BE
SIGNED ON ITS BEHALF BY THE UNDERSIGNED, THEREUNTO DULY AUTHORIZED, IN THE
CITY OF IRVINE, STATE OF CALIFORNIA, ON THE 24TH DAY OF MARCH, 1997.     
 
                                 Auto-by-Tel Corporation
 
                                 By: /s/ Mark W. Lorimer
                                     ------------------------------------------
                                     MARK W. LORIMER
                                     VICE PRESIDENT, GENERAL COUNSEL AND
                                     SECRETARY
 
  PURSUANT TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933, THIS AMENDMENT
TO THE REGISTRATION STATEMENT HAS BEEN SIGNED BY THE FOLLOWING PERSONS IN THE
CAPACITIES AND ON THE DATES INDICATED.


<TABLE>     
<CAPTION> 
 
            SIGNATURE                        TITLE                   DATE
            ---------                        -----                   ----
<S>                                <C>                         <C> 
         Peter R. Ellis*           President Chief             March 24, 1997
- ---------------------------------   Executive Officer          
         PETER R. ELLIS             (Principal Executive       
                                    Officer) and Director
 
        John C. Bedrosian*         Chairman of the Board       March 24, 1997
- ---------------------------------                              
        JOHN C. BEDROSIAN                                      
 
        John M. Markovich*         Chief Financial Officer     March 24, 1997
- ---------------------------------   (Principal Financial       
        JOHN M. MARKOVICH           and Accounting Officer)    
 
        Robert S. Grimes*          Executive Vice President    March 24, 1997
- ---------------------------------   and Director               
        ROBERT S. GRIMES                                       
 
        Jeffrey H. Coats*          Director                    March 24, 1997
- ---------------------------------                              
        JEFFREY H. COATS                                           
 
          Michael Fuchs*           Director                    March 24, 1997
- ---------------------------------                              
          MICHAEL FUCHS                                        

</TABLE>
      

*By:     /s/ Mark W. Lorimer
- ---------------------------------
  Mark W. Lorimer, Attorney-in-
               Fact
 
                                     II-5

<PAGE>
 

                                 EXHIBIT INDEX
 

<TABLE>   
<CAPTION>
  EXHIBIT NO.                             DESCRIPTION
 -------------                            -----------
 <C>           <S>
  1.1+         Form of Underwriting Agreement (draft of January 24, 1997)
  3.1+         Restated Certificate of Incorporation of the Company certified
                by the Secretary of State of the State of Delaware
  3.2+         Restated Bylaws of Auto-By-Tel Corporation adopted October 23,
                1996
  4.1+         Form of Stock Certificate
  4.2+         Amended and Restated Investors' Rights Agreement dated January
                30, 1997 among Registrant and the Investors named in Exhibit A
                thereto
  5.1+         Opinion and Consent of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
               Form of Indemnification Agreement between the Company and its
 10.1+         directors and officers
 10.2+         Employment Offer Letter dated October 24, 1996 from Registrant
                to Mark W. Lorimer
 10.3+         Employment Offer Letter dated December 16, 1996 from Registrant
                to John M. Markovich
 10.4+         Employment Offer Letter dated October 20, 1996 from Registrant
                to Michael Lowell
 10.5+         1996 Stock Option Plan and related agreements
 10.6+         1996 Stock Incentive Plan and related agreements
 10.7+         1996 Employee Stock Purchase Plan
 10.8*         Marketing Agreement dated July 22, 1996 among Auto-By-Tel
                Acceptance Corporation, a subsidiary of the Registrant
                ("ABTAC"), the Registrant, as guarantor of the obligations of
                ABTAC, and AIU Insurance Company, American International South
                Insurance Company, American Home Assurance Company, American
                International Insurance Company, American International
                Insurance Company of California, Inc., Illinois National
                Insurance Company, Minnesota Insurance Company, National Union
                Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA and the Insurance
                Company of the State of Pennsylvania
 10.9*         Marketing Agreement dated March 27, 1996 between Registrant and
                Microsoft Corporation
 10.10*        Advertising Agreement dated October 15, 1996 between Registrant
                and Digital City Inc.
 10.11*        Marketing Agreement dated February 8, 1996 between Registrant
                and Edmund Publications Corporation
 10.12*        Referral Agreement dated September 6, 1996 between Registrant
                and Automotive Information Center
 10.13(a)-(h)+ Forms of Dealership Subscription Agreements
 10.14+        Lease Agreement dated June 1996 between Registrant and McDonnell
                Douglas Realty Company
 10.15+        Sublease Agreement dated October 31, 1996 between Registrant and
                Silicon Valley Bank
 10.16*        Financing Inquiry Referral Agreement dated October 25, 1996
                among Registrant, as obligor, Auto-By-Tel Acceptance
                Corporation and Chase Manhattan Automotive Financial
                Corporation
 10.17*        Service Agreement dated as of February 1, 1997 between
                Registrant and Integrated Warranty Services, Inc.
 10.18*        Marketing and Application Processing Agreement dated February 1,
                1997 between General Electric Capital Auto Financial Services,
                Inc., Auto-By-Tel Acceptance Corporation ("ABTAC") and
                Registrant, as guarantor of the obligations of ABTAC
 11.1+         Statement Regarding Computation of Per Share Earnings
 21.1+         Subsidiaries of the Company
</TABLE>
    

<PAGE>
 

<TABLE>   
<CAPTION>
 EXHIBIT
   NO.                                DESCRIPTION
 -------                              -----------
 <C>     <S>
  23.1+  Consent of Arthur Andersen LLP, Independent Public Accountants (see
          Page II-5)
  23.2+  Consent of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (included in Exhibit 5.1)
  23.3+  Consent of J.D. Power and Associates
  24.1+  Power of Attorney (see Page II-6)
  27.1+  Financial Data Schedule
</TABLE>
    
- --------
 + Previously filed.
       
*  Confidential treatment has been requested for certain portions which have
   been blacked out in the copy of the exhibit filed with the Commission. The
   omitted information has been filed separately with the Commission pursuant
   to the application for confidential treatment.





<PAGE>
 
                                                                    EXHIBIT 10.8



                             MARKETING AGREEMENT


                                   between


                     AUTO-BY-TEL ACCEPTANCE CORPORATION


                              on the one hand,


                                     and


                            AIU INSURANCE COMPANY
               AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL SOUTH INSURANCE COMPANY
                       AMERICAN HOME ASSURANCE COMPANY
                  AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY
        AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY OF CALIFORNIA, INC.
                     ILLINOIS NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY
                         MINNESOTA INSURANCE COMPANY
           NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY OF PITTSBURGH, PA
             THE INSURANCE COMPANY OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA

                                     and

                              AUTO-BY-TEL, INC.
                     as Guarantor of the obligations of
                     AUTO-BY-TEL ACCEPTANCE CORPORATION
                                  hereunder



[*] Confidential Treatment has been requested for certain portions of this 
    exhibit.

<PAGE>
 
                              TABLE OF CONTENTS
                              -----------------


<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                                                            Page
<S>                                                                         <C>
     1.   REPRESENTATIONS AND WARRANTIES...................................  2

          Section 1.1      Representations and Warranties of ABTAC and ABT.  2
          Section 1.2      Representations and Warranties of AIC...........  2

     2.   MARKETING ARRANGEMENT............................................  3

          Section 2.1      Phases of Marketing Arrangement.................  3
          Section 2.2      Preparation of Marketing Materials..............  4
          Section 2.3      Ownership of Marketing Materials................  4
          Section 2.4      Development Costs...............................  4

     3.   COVENANTS, DUTIES AND RIGHTS OF AIC..............................  5

          Section 3.1      Regulatory Authorizations.......................  5
          Section 3.2      Initial Product Offering........................  5
          Section 3.3      Low Cost
 Products...............................  5
          Section 3.4      Reservation of Rights...........................  5
          Section 3.5      Toll Free Number................................  5
          Section 3.6      Cross-Promotion.................................  5
          Section 3.7      Payment of Development Costs....................  6
          Section 3.8      Books and Records; Auditing.....................  6

     4.   COVENANTS, DUTIES AND RIGHTS OF ABTAC AND ABT....................  6

          Section 4.1      Insurance Marketing Materials...................  6
          Section 4.2      Relationships with ABT Friends..................  6
          Section 4.3      Hyperlink Development; Costs....................  7
          Section 4.4      Cross-Promotion.................................  7
          Section 4.5      Guarantee.......................................  7
          Section 4.6      Additional Services.............................  7

     5.   [RESERVED].......................................................  7

     6.   EXCLUSIVITY......................................................  7

          Section 6.1      Exclusivity.....................................  7
          Section 6.2      Exception From Exclusivity......................  8
          Section 6.3      AIC Marks.......................................  8
          Section 6.4      ABT Marks.......................................  8

     7.   FIRST REFUSAL....................................................  8

          Section 7.1      New Product.....................................  8
          Section 7.2      Right of First Refusal..........................  8

     8.   COMPENSATION.....................................................  8

     9.   POLICIES.........................................................  9

          Section 9.1      Product Control.................................  9
          Section 9.2      Underwriting and Administration.................  9
          Section 9.3      Policy and Quote Records........................  9

</TABLE>

                                       i

<PAGE>
 

<TABLE>
<S>                                                                         <C>
          Section 9.4      Billing.........................................  9
          Section 9.5      Authority as Insurance Provider.................  9
          Section 9.6      Privacy......................................... 10
          Section 9.7      Fair Credit Reporting........................... 10

     10.  CONFIDENTIALITY.................................................. 10

          Section 10.1     Confidential Information........................ 10
          Section 10.2     Return of Confidential Information.............. 10
          Section 10.3     Survival of Confidentiality..................... 10

     11.  USE OF NAMES/TRADEMARKS.......................................... 11

          Section 11.1     Limitation on Use of AIC Marks.................. 11
          Section 11.2     Limitation on Use of ABT Marks.................. 11
          Section 11.3     Low Cost Logo................................... 11
          Section 11.4     Use of User Data................................ 11


     12.  INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR........................................... 11

          Section 12.1     No Joint Venture................................ 11
          Section 12.2     Limitations on Authority........................ 11

     13.  [RESERVED]....................................................... 12

     14.  TERM AND TERMINATION............................................. 12

          Section 14.1     Renewal......................................... 12
          Section 14.2     Cure Period..................................... 12
          Section 14.3     Termination upon Insolvency..................... 12
          Section 14.4     Termination Upon Use of Marks................... 12
          Section 14.5     Responsibilities Upon Termination............... 12

     15.  INDEMNIFICATION.................................................. 13

     16.  NOTICES.......................................................... 13

          Section 16.1     Legal and Regulatory Proceedings................ 13
          Section 16.2     Addresses, etc.................................. 13

     17.  MISCELLANEOUS.................................................... 13

          Section 17.1     Choice of Law, Venue, Jurisdiction.............. 13
          Section 17.2     Assignment...................................... 13
          Section 17.3     Modification; Waiver............................ 14
          Section 17.4     Entire Agreement................................ 14
          Section 17.5     Remedies........................................ 14
          Section 17.6     References and Section Headings................. 14
          Section 17.7     Severability.................................... 14
          Section 17.8     Signatures and Recording........................ 14
</TABLE>

                                      ii

<PAGE>
 
                              MARKETING AGREEMENT

   THIS AGREEMENT is made as of July 22, 1996, between AUTO-BY-TEL ACCEPTANCE
CORPORATION ("ABTAC") a Delaware corporation, having its offices at 2711 E.
Coast Highway, Suite 203, Corona Del Mar, California 92625, on the one hand, and
AIU INSURANCE COMPANY, AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL SOUTH INSURANCE COMPANY, AMERICAN
HOME ASSURANCE COMPANY, AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY, AMERICAN
INTERNATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY OF CALIFORNIA, INC., ILLINOIS NATIONAL INSURANCE
COMPANY, MINNESOTA INSURANCE COMPANY, NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY OF
PITTSBURGH, PA and THE INSURANCE COMPANY OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA
(collectively "AIC"), all member companies of American International Group, Inc.
having offices at 505 Carr Road, Wilmington, Delaware 19809, on the other hand
and AUTO-BY-TEL, INC. ("ABT") a Delaware corporation, having its offices at 2711
E. Coast Highway, Suite 203, Corona Del Mar, California 92625, in its capacity
as Guarantor of ABTAC's obligations hereunder ("ABT").

                              W I T N E S S E T H:
                              - - - - - - - - - - 

   WHEREAS, AIC underwrites private passenger automobile,
homeowner/tenant/condo, and personal umbrella liability insurance ("Products"),
as well as (directly or through its affiliates) the products ("Additional
Products") enumerated on Schedule A hereto and has experience in providing
direct response marketing; and

   WHEREAS, AIC wishes to market Products, but primarily private passenger
automobile insurance, to users of ABT's Internet Website and those Websites of
its contractual partners which are approved by AIC from time to time ("Users");
and

   WHEREAS, AIC and ABTAC share a common philosophy on delivering a low-cost,
high-quality program to Users; and

   WHEREAS, AIG Marketing, Inc. ("AIGM") acts as a marketing group for and on
behalf of AIC and in such capacity has negotiated this Agreement on behalf of
AIC and will provide such services and compensation as set forth herein; and

   WHEREAS, ABT is engaged in the marketing of automobile pricing and automobile
buying services to Users via the Internet and ABTAC is a wholly-owned subsidiary
of ABT established to, among other things, enter into arrangements pursuant to
which Users are afforded the opportunity to enter into transactions they may
find beneficial; and

   WHEREAS, ABT, through ABTAC, is desirous of authorizing and providing AIC
access to its Internet Server ("Server"); and

   WHEREAS, AIC is desirous of securing access to the Server for the
publication, display and exhibition of AIC's direct response sales materials to
ABT Users.

   NOW THEREFORE, in consideration of the mutual covenants and agreements
contained herein and other good and valuable consideration, the receipt and
sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged, and intending to be legally bound
hereby, ABT, ABTAC and AIC agree as follows:

[*] Confidential Treatment has been requested for certain portions of this 
    exhibit.

<PAGE>
 
   REPRESENTATIONS AND WARRANTIES.

   Section 1.1  Representations and Warranties of ABTAC and ABT.  Each of ABTAC
                -----------------------------------------------
and ABT, as the case may be, hereby makes the following representations and
warranties to AIC:

   (a)  Each of ABT and ABTAC has been duly organized and is validly existing as
a corporation under the laws of the state of Delaware and each is duly licensed
where required as a "Licensee" or is otherwise qualified in each state in which
it transacts business and is not in default of such state's applicable laws,
rules and regulations, except where the failure to so qualify or such default
would not have a material adverse effect on its ability to conduct its business
or to perform its obligations under this Agreement.

   (b)  Each of ABT and ABTAC has the requisite power and authority and legal
right to execute and deliver this Agreement, engage in the transactions
contemplated by this Agreement, and perform and observe those terms and
conditions of this Agreement to be performed or observed by it hereunder.  The
person or persons signatory to this Agreement and any document executed pursuant
to it on behalf of each of ABT and ABTAC have full power and authority to bind
either ABT or ABTAC, as the case may be.  The execution, delivery and
performance of this Agreement, and the performance by each of ABT and ABTAC of
all transactions contemplated herein and therein, have been duly authorized by
all necessary and appropriate corporate action on the part of ABT and ABTAC, as
the case may be.

   (c)  This Agreement has been duly authorized and executed by each of ABT and
ABTAC and is valid, binding and enforceable against each of them in accordance
with its terms, except that such enforcement may be subject to bankruptcy,
insolvency, reorganization, moratorium or other similar laws (whether statutory,
regulatory or decisional) now or hereafter in effect relating to creditors'
rights generally, and the execution, delivery and performance by each of ABT and
ABTAC of this Agreement do not conflict with any term or provision of (i) its
certificates of incorporation or bylaws, (ii) any law, rule, regulation, order,
judgment, writ, injunction or decree applicable to ABTAC of any court,
regulatory body, administrative agency or governmental body having jurisdiction
over either ABT or ABTAC or (iii) any agreement to which either ABT or ABTAC is
a party or by which its property is bound.

   (d)  No consent, approval, authorization or order of, registration or filing
with, or notice to any governmental authority or court is required under
applicable law in connection with the execution, delivery and performance by
either ABT or ABTAC of this Agreement.

   (e)  There is no action, proceeding or investigation pending or, to the best
knowledge of both ABT and ABTAC, threatened against either of them before any
court, administrative agency or other tribunal (i) asserting the invalidity of
this Agreement, (ii) seeking to prevent the consummation of any of the
transactions contemplated by this Agreement, or (iii) which could reasonably be
expected to materially and adversely affect the performance by either of them of
their respective obligations under, or the validity or enforceability of, this
Agreement.

   (f)  ABTAC or ABT, as the case may be, has all regulatory approvals,
authorizations, licenses, permits and other permissions, consents and
authorities whatsoever, as needed to operate the ABT Website.

   (g)  ABTAC or ABT, as the case may be, warrants that it has the legal and
valid right to use any registered or unregistered trademark, tradename, service
mark, logo, emblem or other proprietary designation, or any variations,
derivatives and modifications thereof, used by it in the Insurance Marketing
Materials as defined hereafter (the "ABT Marks")

   Section 1.2  Representations and Warranties of AIC.  AIC hereby makes the
                -------------------------------------                       
following representations and warranties, to ABTAC:

   (a)  AIC is duly licensed where and as required in each state in which it
transacts business and is not in default of such state's applicable laws, rules
and regulations, except where such default would not have a material adverse
effect on the ability of AIC to conduct its business or to perform its
obligations under this Agreement.

                                       2

<PAGE>
 
   (b)  AIC has the requisite power and authority and legal right to execute and
deliver, engage in the transactions contemplated by, and perform and observe the
terms and conditions of, this Agreement.  The person or persons signatory to
this Agreement and any document executed pursuant to it on behalf of AIC have
full power and authority to bind AIC.  The execution, delivery and performance
of this Agreement, and the performance by AIC of all transactions contemplated
herein and therein, have been duly authorized by all necessary and appropriate
and corporate action on the part of AIC.

   (c)  This Agreement has been duly authorized and executed by AIC and is
valid, binding and enforceable against AIC in accordance with its terms, except
that such enforcement may be subject to bankruptcy, insolvency, reorganization,
moratorium or other similar laws (whether statutory, regulatory or decisional)
now or hereafter in effect relating to creditors' rights generally, and the
execution, delivery and performance by AIC of this Agreement do not conflict
with any term or provision of the certificate of incorporation or bylaws of AIC,
or any law, rule, regulation, order, judgment, writ, injunction or decree
applicable to AIC of any court, regulatory body, administrative agency or
governmental body having jurisdiction over AIC.

   (d)  No consent, approval, authorization or order of, registration or filing
with, or notice to any governmental authority or court is required under
applicable law in connection with the execution, delivery and performance by AIC
of this Agreement.

   (e)  There is no action, proceeding or investigation pending or, to the best
knowledge of AIC, threatened against it before any court, administrative agency
or other tribunal (i) asserting the invalidity of this Agreement, (ii) seeking
to prevent the consummation of any of the transactions contemplated by this
Agreement, or (iii) which could reasonably be expected to materially and
adversely affect the performance by AIC of its obligations under, or the
validity or enforceability of, this Agreement.

   (f)  AIC warrants that it has all regulatory approvals, authorizations,
licenses, permits and other permissions, consents and authorities whatsoever, as
needed (i) to offer and sell the Products in each of the states [*] (the
"Excepted States"), territories and the District of Columbia of the United
States (the "Territory") and to otherwise perform its obligations under this
Agreement, and (ii) to use any Insurance Marketing Materials (as defined in
Section 2.2 of this Agreement) developed by AIC, or provided for inclusion in
any Insurance Marketing Materials developed jointly with ABTAC.

   (g)  AIC warrants that it has the legal and valid right to use any registered
or unregistered trademark, tradename, service mark, logo, emblem or other
proprietary designation, or any variations, derivatives and modifications
thereof, used by it in the Insurance Marketing Materials as defined hereafter
(the "AIC Marks").

2. MARKETING ARRANGEMENT.

   Section 2.1  Phases of Marketing Arrangement.  ABTAC and AIC shall cooperate
                -------------------------------
to provide the means for Users interested in the Products to establish contact
with AIC and purchase Products in three phases as follows:

   (a)  "'Phase 1' - Toll Free Telephone Marketing"   Users accessing the ABT
Website shall be able to click on an icon and access another page at the ABT
Website containing information about the Products as well as a toll free
telephone number.  Users dialing the toll free number will be connected to AIC
employees who shall provide further information about the Products and take User
information in order to prepare a request for quote (an "RFQ"). AIC will
evaluate the RFQs for which they have received sufficient User information
(either on the first User call or after subsequent contact) and quote qualified
Users prices for the requested Products. Phase 1 shall commence approximately
[*] from the date of this Agreement and end when AIC and ABTAC agree that Phase
2 shall commence.

   (b)  "'Phase 2' - Electronic File Transfer"  Users accessing the ABT Website
shall be able to click on an icon and access another page at the ABT Website
containing information about the Products as well as an RFQ which the User can
fill out and submit electronically.  The ABT Website will forward the RFQ files
electronically to AIC.  Upon receipt of the RFQ files, AIC employees shall
evaluate the RFQs for which they have received sufficient User information
(either at first or after subsequent contact) and quote any qualified User
prices for the requested Products.  Phase 2 shall commence on such 

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                       3

<PAGE>
 
date as AIC and ABTAC agree (cooperatively and in good faith) which date is
expected to be approximately 60 days from the date of the commencement of Phase
1 implementation. Phase 2 shall end when AIC and ABTAC agree that Phase 3 shall
commence.

    (c)  "'Phase 3' - Internet Hyperlink" Users accessing the ABT Website shall
be able to click on an icon and be hyperlinked to an AIC Website containing
information about the Products as well as an insurance RFQ which the User can
fill out and submit electronically. The AIC Website will evaluate the RFQ file
in real time (subject to System capabilities) and, if satisfactory (either at
first or after subsequent contact), will quote any qualified User prices for the
requested Products. Phase 3 shall commence on such date as AIC and ABTAC agree
(cooperatively and in good faith) which date is expected to be prior to June 1, 
1997.

   Section 2.2  Preparation of Marketing Materials.    AIC and ABTAC shall
                ----------------------------------                        
cooperate to prepare and produce (in each Phase of development) the Web page or
pages describing the Products on the ABT Website (the "Insurance Info Pages"),
the Phase 2 ABT Website request for quote and electronic transfer mechanism, the
Phase 3 hyperlink and AIC Website request for quote, and all other marketing
materials (the "Collateral Materials") to be used to market and advertise the
Products or the Insurance Info Pages (the Insurance Info Pages and the Other
Materials, collectively, the "Insurance Marketing Materials").

    (b)  The content and form of the Insurance Marketing Materials must be
approved in writing by both AIC and ABTAC prior to use. Any modification in any
Insurance Marketing Materials shall be submitted by the party proposing the
modification to the other party in writing for approval. Unless the requested
modification is in any Insurance Marketing Material which is subject to any
filing or notice requirement with any governmental entity, which materials are
under the sole control of AIC, the party receiving such submission shall
preliminarily respond to the submitting party within two (2) business days of
receipt of such submission and shall deliver its final approval or disapproval
within five (5) business days of receipt of such submission. Approval of
requested modifications in Insurance Marketing Materials shall not be
unreasonably withheld or delayed. ABTAC acknowledges that any change in any
Insurance Marketing Materials subject to any filing or notice requirement with
any governmental entity may take considerable time to secure the required
approvals or to make the required filings. AIC acknowledges that the ABT Website
may (and is likely to) change from time-to-time in response to, among other
things, new display and/or hyperlink technologies, Internet server consolidation
or congestion, and changes in Internet providers.

   Section 2.3   Ownership of Marketing Materials.  Insurance Marketing
                 --------------------------------
Materials shall be owned by ABT if provided by ABT, AIC if provided by AIC, and
by AIC if jointly produced. Ownership rights with respect to the AIC Marks and
the ABT Marks shall not be affected by this Section 2.3.

   Section 2.4  Development Costs.  AIC shall pay [*] for the development of the
                -----------------                                             
Insurance Marketing Materials; provided, however, that the parties hereto agree
                               --------  -------                          
that AIC's obligations to pay for costs related to Phase 1 and Phase 2 shall not
exceed in the aggregate [*]


3. COVENANTS, DUTIES AND RIGHTS OF AIC.

   Section 3.1  Regulatory Authorizations.  AIC shall, at its own cost and
                -------------------------
expense, secure and maintain all regulatory approvals, authorizations, licenses,
permits and other permissions, consents and authorities whatsoever, as needed to
offer and sell the Products in the Territory ("Insurance Approval"). AIC shall
use its best efforts to either (i) secure Insurance Approval as needed to offer
and sell the Products in the Excepted States and the provinces of Canada, or
(ii) to establish relationships with insurance producers or underwriters in the
Excepted States and the provinces of Canada which will allow the offering and
sale of Products in such jurisdictions in a manner which, as closely as
possible, mirrors the offering and sale of Products in the Territory. AIC shall
give ABTAC written notice promptly upon securing Insurance Approval in any
Excepted State or province of Canada and thereafter for all purposes such
jurisdiction shall be considered part of the Territory. AIC shall be responsible
for all aspects of any relationship established pursuant to clause (ii) of the
second sentence of this Section 3.1, and all Products sold pursuant to any such
relationship shall, for all purposes of this Agreement, be considered Products
sold within the Territory.


[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                       4

<PAGE>
 
   Section 3.2  Initial Product Offering.  AIC shall initially offer only
                ------------------------                                 
automobile insurance, but shall use its best efforts to offer all Products by
June, 1997. In addition, AIC will facilitate the development of plans to market
those Additional Products through marketing on the ABT Website, either directly,
or through relationships between ABTAC and AIC affiliates offering such
products, which such relationships shall be facilitated and established in
accordance with Section 3.6 of this Agreement.

   Section 3.3  Low Cost Products.  AIC shall offer low-cost, high-quality
                -----------------
Products to qualified Users. AIC shall not offer insurance products similar to
the Products at prices lower than those quoted for the Products to qualified
Users except through distribution channels with lower distribution and/or
acquisition costs to AIC. For purposes of this Section 3.3, the similarity of
the Products shall be determined on the basis of the coverage terms, limitations
and conditions and the price levels shall be determined on the basis of persons
of like underwriting profiles seeking similar insurance products.

   Section 3.4  Reservation of Rights.    AIC reserves the right to suspend,
                ---------------------                                       
restrict or modify the offer and sale of the Products to accommodate
regulations; provided, however, that AIC shall use its best efforts to limit
             --------  -------                                              
such suspension, restriction or modification to the smallest scope possible (in
both qualitative and temporal terms) to enable ABTAC to realize the full
expectancy of this Agreement.

    (b)  AIC reserves the right to use the services of AIGM for various
marketing, servicing and administrative functions under this Agreement;
provided, however, that AIC shall remain responsible at all times for its
- --------  -------
obligations under this Agreement.

   Section 3.5  Toll Free Number.  AIC shall secure and maintain at least one
                ----------------
toll free telephone number for use in Phase 1. AIC shall (i) inform ABTAC of
such number, (ii) use its best efforts not to change such number, and (iii)
devote sufficient numbers of its trained employees to the answering of such
number so that Users dialing the number have to wait, on average, no more than
three minutes to be connected to an employee who will take the User's RFQ and
provide any requested information. From the commencement of Phase 1, the toll
free number shall be so staffed no less than [*] hours per day on weekdays and
[*] hours per day on Saturdays. AIC acknowledges that ABTAC believes that the
Internet is utilized most heavily during non-business hours and on weekends, and
therefore agrees that it shall perform test marketing of expanded hours for the
staffing of the toll free number.

   Section 3.6  Cross-Promotion.  AIC shall promote and advertise the ABT
                ---------------
Website on the Website of AIGM, and shall use its best efforts to promote and
advertise the ABT Website on the Websites of all AIC corporate affiliates and
all AIC affinity partners (collectively, the "AIC Friends") and to promote
recognition and awareness of the ABT Website via ongoing public relations
efforts. AIC shall use its best efforts to secure the cooperation of the AIC
Friends in ABTAC's development and implementation of hyperlinks between the
Websites of the AIC Friends, on the one hand, and the ABT Website, on the other.
AIC agrees to facilitate the development of relationships between AIC's
affiliates and ABTAC with respect to the marketing of Additional Products or any
other personal or commercial insurance products to Users.  Any compensation to
be paid to ABTAC by the AIC affiliate offering such products shall be mutually
agreed upon by ABTAC and the related AIC affiliate.

   Section 3.7  Payment of Development Costs.    AIC shall promptly, and in any
                ----------------------------                                   
event, within 30 business days, pay ABTAC for any reasonable out-of-pocket costs
in connection with the development of the hyperlinks contemplated by Phase 3 and
by Section 4.3 of this Agreement.

    (b)  AIC shall, subject to the reimbursement limit set forth in Section 2.4,
promptly, and in any event, within 30 business days, pay ABTAC for 30 business
days, in connection with the development of the electronic transmission
mechanism contemplated by Phase 2.

   Section 3.8  Books and Records; Auditing.    AIC shall keep complete and
                ---------------------------                                
accurate records of all of its activities under this Agreement at the address
specified in Section 16.2 of this Agreement.  AIC shall, no later than the 30th
day of each month, deliver to ABTAC (i) the amounts to which ABTAC is entitled
pursuant to Section 8 of this Agreement, and (ii) a report setting forth the
amounts to be paid to ABTAC hereunder, accompanied by detail sufficient to
permit ABTAC to determine the basis of the computation and the accuracy of the
amount, together with a list of all Users of ABT's Website which have contacted
AIC through the toll free number provided on ABT's Website and such other
information as ABTAC shall reasonably request from time to time in order to
monitor the performance of this Agreement.  Subject to the 

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                       5

<PAGE>
 
provisions of the Insurance Information and Privacy Protection Model Act, as
enacted in various states (as so enacted, the "Privacy Act"), all records
maintained by AIC related to this Agreement shall be open to inspection and
copying by ABTAC's employees, agents, attorneys, accountants or other authorized
representatives at reasonable times during normal business hours.

    (b)  ABTAC may also appoint public accountants of its choice, and at its
sole expense, for the purpose of auditing AIC's performance of its obligations
under this Agreement and AIC agrees to grant such accountants access to all
records necessary to determine the compliance of AIC with the compensation
provisions of this Agreement. If the results of such audit reveal a discrepancy
between the amounts paid by AIC hereunder and the amounts which should have been
paid hereunder, then the appropriate payments shall be made (i) if to ABTAC,
immediately, and (ii) if to AIC, by the withholding of [*] of such amount from
the payments to be made to ABTAC over the succeeding twelve months. If the
discrepancy is in ABTAC's favor and exceeds [*] then AIC shall reimburse ABTAC
for the full cost of the audit.


4. COVENANTS, DUTIES AND RIGHTS OF ABTAC AND ABT.

   Section 4.1  Insurance Marketing Materials.  ABTAC shall maintain the
                -----------------------------
Insurance Marketing Materials (as available) at the ABT Website.

   Section 4.2  Relationships with ABT Friends.  ABT and ABTAC shall use best
                ------------------------------                               
efforts to establish and maintain relationships with major automobile-related
products and service providers on the Internet (such entities with which ABT or
ABTAC has established such relationships, the "ABT Friends") such as, among
others, Edmund's, Microsoft, Auto-Site and Kelly Blue Book which relationships
may include toll free "800" numbers and/or hyperlinks with the Websites of the
ABT Friends to the ABT Website allowing users at ABT Friends' Websites to link
to the ABT Website and view the Insurance Marketing Materials and/or hyperlinks
between the Websites of those ABT Friends approved in advance by AIC with the
Website of AIGM.  If ABTAC proposes to establish a hyperlink between the Website
of AIGM and that of any ABT Friend, it shall submit such proposal to AIC in
advance for approval.  AIC shall preliminarily respond to ABTAC within two (2)
business days of receipt of such submission and shall deliver its final approval
or disapproval within five (5) business days of receipt of such submission.
Approval of such proposed hyperlinks shall not be unreasonably withheld.  AIC
and ABTAC agree that (i) any compensation to be paid to any ABT Friends in
connection with any relationship with respect to users at or originating at
their Websites shall be solely the responsibility of ABTAC and (ii) any such
users shall be considered Users for all purposes under this Agreement.

   Section 4.3  Hyperlink Development; Costs.    ABTAC shall use its best
                ----------------------------
efforts to develop and implement the electronic transfer mechanism necessary for
Phase 2 and the hyperlink necessary for Phase 3.

    (b)  ABTAC shall use its best efforts to develop and implement hyperlinks
between the Websites of the AIC Friends and that of ABT to allow users of the
Websites of the AIC Friends to link to the ABT Website.

    (c)  ABTAC shall, no less frequently than monthly and no more frequently
than weekly (and in connection with the electronic transfer mechanism necessary
for Phase 2, subject to the reimbursement limit set forth in Section 2.4),
submit to AIC for reimbursement ABTAC's out-of-pocket expenses incurred in
connection with this Section 4.3, such submission to be accompanied by detail
sufficient to permit AIC to determine the basis of the computation and the
accuracy of the amount claimed. Such reimbursement shall be made by AIC within
30 days of receipt of the related request.

   Section 4.4  Cross-Promotion.  ABTAC shall promote and advertise the ABT
                ---------------
Website through Internet search engines and other public mass media and to
promote recognition and awareness of the ABT Website via ongoing public
relations efforts.

   Section 4.5  Guarantee.  ABT hereby unconditionally and irrevocably
                ---------
guarantees to AIC, its successors, endorsees and assigns, the performance when
due of all present and future obligations and liabilities of all kinds of ABTAC
arising out of or in connection with this Agreement, whether due or to become
due, secured or unsecured, absolute or contingent, joint or several
("Obligations"). The Guarantor agrees that AIC and ABTAC may mutually agree to
modify the Obligations or any agreement between AIC and ABTAC without in any way
impairing or affecting this Guarantee.

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                       6


<PAGE>
 
   Section 4.6  Additional Services.  ABTAC hereby agrees that it shall provide
                -------------------                                            
AIC, upon request of AIC, the following additional services:

   (a)  Consulting services concerning marketing of automobile insurance to ABT
        Users;

   (b)  Data concerning persons requesting the Phase 1 toll free number directly
        from ABT corporate offices;

   (c)  E-Mail monitoring and consulting service in respect of and during Phase
        3;

   (d)  Hyperlink monitoring and consulting service in respect of and during
        Phase 3;

   (e)  Access to officers of ABT for Internet marketing trend updates; and

   (f)  Icon design consulting services for AIGM Website.


5. [RESERVED]

6. EXCLUSIVITY.

   Section 6.1  Exclusivity.    The parties hereto shall have an exclusive
                -----------                                               
arrangement for the first 18 months of the Initial Term (as defined in Section
14.1 of this Agreement) (such first 18 months, the "Initial Exclusivity Period")
whereby ABT and ABTAC, separately or together, shall not provide Website access
to any other underwriter of Products and whereby AIC shall not market Products
with any other Internet automobile buying program, automobile purchase
assistance or financing program, automobile pricing service, vehicle information
service or on-line service including, among others both existing and to be
created or initiated, America On-Line, Microsoft, Prodigy, CompuServe and NetCom
(collectively, "Internet Auto Providers").  The exclusivity of this Agreement
shall automatically continue for a 12 month period beyond the Initial
Exclusivity Period, and thereafter for successive 12 month periods, unless one
party shall give the other party written notice not less than 60 days prior to
the end of the Initial Exclusivity Period or the then current 12 month
exclusivity period, as the case may be, that the exclusivity shall end at the
end of the Initial Exclusivity Period or the then current 12 month exclusivity
period, as the case may be.

    (b)  After the termination of the exclusivity of this Agreement, if either
party uses the "Prohibited Marketing Term" ascribed to it in this clause (b),
the other party shall have the right, but not the obligation, to terminate this
Agreement upon 30 days written notice. With respect to AIC, the Prohibited
Marketing Term shall be "[x] Low Cost Auto Insurance [y]" where "x" is the name
of any Internet Auto Provider, and "y" is the name of AIC or any affiliate
thereof or any variation thereon which conveys or links "x," "y" and the term
Low Cost within any logo, service mark, trademark or icon. With respect to ABTAC
or ABT, the Prohibited Marketing Term shall be "ABT Low Cost Auto Insurance [y]"
where "y" is the name of any underwriter of Products except AIC or any affiliate
thereof which conveys or links ABT or any affiliate thereof to "y" and the term
Low Cost within any logo, service mark, trademark or icon.

   Section 6.2  Exception From Exclusivity.  AIC's relationship with United
                --------------------------
Buying Services, Inc., as in effect on the date of this Agreement, is exempt
from the provisions of Section 6.1 of this Agreement.

   Section 6.3  AIC Marks.    If, either in conjunction with a properly noticed
                ---------                                                      
termination of exclusivity or at any time after such notice is delivered, AIC
intends to use any AIC Marks in conjunction with the offering or sale of
Products through any Internet Auto Providers, then AIC must give ABTAC 30 days
prior written notice thereof.

   Section 6.4  ABT Marks.  If, either in conjunction with a properly noticed
                ---------                                                    
termination of exclusivity or at any time after such notice is delivered, ABT or
ABTAC intends to use any ABT Marks in conjunction with the marketing of any
Products outside of the terms of this Agreement, then ABTAC must give AIC 30
days prior written notice thereof.

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                       7

<PAGE>
 
7. FIRST REFUSAL.

   Section 7.1  New Product.  In the event that either (i) an insurer or entity
                -----------                                                    
other than AIC or any of its affiliates (a "Competing Insurer") proposes a
program to offer on the ABT Website any personal or commercial insurance other
than the Products offered pursuant to this Agreement (a "New Product") or (ii)
ABTAC wishes to market a New Product through a Competing Insurer, then ABTAC
shall immediately give AIC written notice of such New Product and the related
terms (the "New Product Notice").

   Section 7.2  Right of First Refusal.  ABTAC hereby grants to AIC the right of
                ----------------------                                          
first refusal to offer such New Product to ABT's Users on terms no less
favorable to ABTAC or ABT's Users than those proposed by the Competing Insurer.
AIC shall be obligated to respond with its intent to ABTAC within 10 business
days after its receipt of the New Product Notice.  If AIC does not respond
within such period, ABTAC may market such New Product on terms no less favorable
than those set forth in the related New Product Notice.


8. COMPENSATION.

        During the term of this Agreement, for the services to be performed by
ABTAC hereunder (except for those services under Section 4.6 hereof), ABTAC
shall be paid compensation by AIC calculated in accordance with Schedule B
attached hereto and made a part hereof. All payments due ABTAC hereunder shall
be made within thirty (30) days after the end of the month they become due. For
the services to be performed by ABTAC under Section 4.6 hereof, ABTAC shall be
paid by AIC compensation for each year (or portion thereof) by August 31 of such
year in an amount to be determined in good faith discussions to be held between
AIC and ABTAC based on the value of such services.


9. POLICIES.

   Section 9.1  Product Control.  Subject to its obligations under Section 3.3
                ---------------                                               
hereof to offer low-cost insurance products, AIC reserves the sole right and
power, exercisable in good faith at any time, to change the terms, rates,
conditions, or other provisions contained in the Products or to reject requests
for quotes for the Products or to rescind or refuse to renew or cancel any
policy issued hereunder, in accordance with AIC's underwriting standards, except
as may be limited by the terms of the policies or by applicable law or
regulation.  AIC further reserves the sole right and power to change its
underwriting standards for the Products in accordance with sound insurance
practices consistent with AIC's normal business practices and subject to
applicable insurance law and further to suspend, restrict or modify the offer
and sale of the Products for regulatory reasons.  AIC shall inform ABTAC in
writing promptly upon its taking any action under this Section 9.1.  In the
event AIC suspends the offer and sale of Products (or so restricts or modifies
such offer and sale so as to render the Products unavailable to the majority of
Users previously qualified for such Products on the terms and conditions
previously offered) in any jurisdiction or area within the Territory, it shall
use its best efforts to make provision for the offer and sale by another
underwriter of Products in such jurisdiction or area in a manner which minimizes
the effect of such suspension upon the orderly marketing of the Products in such
jurisdiction or area, and maximizes the expectancy of ABTAC under this
Agreement. If AIC has not made such provision within 10 days of any such
suspension, ABTAC shall be entitled to establish a relationship with another
underwriter of Products in such jurisdiction or area, such relationship to be
for a term not to exceed twelve months, and shall be entitled to make such
agreements as necessary to secure such relationship, including the use of a
Prohibited Marketing Term (in connection with the offering and sale of Products
in such jurisdiction or area), and no aspect of such relationship or agreements
shall give rise to any rights of AIC under this Agreement.

   Section 9.2  Underwriting and Administration.  AIC shall, at its expense,
                -------------------------------                             
provide all underwriting, policy issuance services, policyholder services,
premium disbursement and accounting services, premium collection, claims
adjustment, and all other administrative services required for policies issued
pursuant to this Agreement.

   Section 9.3  Policy and Quote Records.  All policy and quote records for the
                ------------------------                                       
policies issued hereunder shall be the property of AIC. Policy records shall
include but not be limited to all policy requests for quotes, policy
declarations pages, policy underwriting files and policy claim files, or
computer data files containing such information.

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                       8

<PAGE>
 
   Section 9.4  Billing.  AIC shall be responsible for the billing and
                -------
collection of insurance premiums from all Users who purchase insurance under
this Agreement.

   Section 9.5  Authority as Insurance Provider.  Nothing in this Agreement
                -------------------------------
shall be construed to mean that either ABT or ABTAC is a broker or an agent, and
in no event shall either ABT or ABTAC have any authority or represent itself as
having authority other than as is specifically set forth in this Agreement.
Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, neither ABT nor ABTAC shall do
any of the following:

    (a)  Attempt to or make, waive, alter or change any term, rate or condition
stated in any AIC policy, contract or AIC approved form; bind coverage; or
discharge any contract in the name of AIC.

    (b)  Offer to pay or pay directly or indirectly any rebate of premiums or
any other inducement not specified in the policy to any person.

    (c)  Transact business in contravention of the rules and regulations of an
Insurance Department and/or other governmental authorities having jurisdiction
of all subject matters embraced within this Agreement.

   Section 9.6  Privacy.    (a) ABTAC recognizes that, in the performance of its
                -------                                                     
obligations under this Agreement, if permitted by the Privacy Act and other
applicable laws, AIC may disclose personal or privileged information about
individuals collected or received in connection with insurance transactions.
Since the disclosure of such information is protected by law, ABTAC agrees that
it will not redisclose any such privileged information of which ABTAC has actual
notice without the individual's written authorization, unless such disclosure is
permitted by law.

    (b)  ABT and ABTAC represents and warrants to AIC that neither ABT nor ABTAC
shall use such information as is disclosed by AIC pursuant to Section 9.6(a)
other than in connection with the marketing of a product or service.

   Section 9.7  Fair Credit Reporting.  Nothing herein shall be construed to
                ---------------------                                       
require or imply that AIC is required to provide User information to ABT or
ABTAC in contravention of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (the "FCRA").  AIC is
not a "consumer reporting agency" as defined in the FCRA.


10. CONFIDENTIALITY.

    Section 10.1  Confidential Information.  In performing their obligations
                  ------------------------
pursuant to this Agreement, the parties may be provided access to and receive
disclosure of certain confidential and/or proprietary information about the
other including but not limited to names of Users, information provided by Users
to AIC for the purpose of obtaining an insurance quotation, names of
policyholders, marketing philosophy and objectives, financial results,
technological developments, computer system information (including information
provided in connection with the development of the Phase 2 and Phase 3
applications and links), trade secrets, and other materials and information that
such party considers confidential and/or proprietary ("Confidential
Information"). Unless expressly provided otherwise in this Agreement, AIC, ABT
and ABTAC agree not to give, sell, or in any way transfer, either directly or
indirectly, Confidential Information to any person or organization for any
purpose without the prior written approval of the other, except as may be
required by law, rule or regulation (including any filings under any securities
law) or court order. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary herein, AIC, ABT
and ABTAC may use Confidential Information for market research purposes upon
written consent from the other party, to the extent permissible by law. AIC, ABT
and ABTAC promise to make best efforts to see that all parties including
employees comply with this provision. These obligations as to confidentiality
and nonuse shall survive the termination of this Agreement.

   Section 10.2  Return of Confidential Information.  Except as otherwise herein
                 ----------------------------------                             
provided, all Confidential Information furnished by one party to the other in
connection with this Agreement is the exclusive property of that party and shall
be returned to that party upon request or upon termination of this Agreement.

   Section 10.3  Survival of Confidentiality.  All obligations and duties of the
                 ---------------------------                                    
parties with respect to Confidential Information shall survive for five years
after the termination of this Agreement. Confidential Information shall no
longer be considered Confidential Information to the extent that such
information (a) is developed by a party independently, without

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                       9

<PAGE>
 
reference to any Confidential Information of the other party's; (b) is obtained
from a third party authorized to disclose it; (c) becomes a part of the public
domain without the fault of the disclosing party; (d) is released by the
disclosing party to third parties without similar restrictions; or (e) is
released from such restrictions by prior written agreement.


11. USE OF NAMES/TRADEMARKS.

    Section 11.1  Limitation on Use of AIC Marks.    ABTAC agrees that neither
                  ------------------------------
it nor ABT shall use the AIC Marks without AIC's prior written consent.

    (b)  AIC hereby grants to ABT and ABTAC a limited license to use and
reproduce any AIC Mark approved in accordance with Sections 2.2(b) and 11.1(a)
of this Agreement, in connection with the marketing arrangements set forth in
this Agreement and for no other purpose, and hereby agrees to provide ABT and
ABTAC, for the sole purpose of marketing the Products, acceptable copies of the
appropriate AIC Marks for purposes of reproduction.

    (c)  For so long as AIC or one of its affiliates has the right to use the
mark "AIG," AIC shall permit ABTAC to use the term "Auto-By-Tel Low Cost Auto
Insurance From AIG" in marketing the Products during the term of this Agreement;
provided, however, that the permission granted hereby shall not diminish AIC's
- --------  -------                                                             
rights to approve the form and content of any Insurance Marketing Materials
pursuant to Section 2.2(b) hereof.

   Section 11.2  Limitation on Use of ABT Marks.  (a) AIC agrees that it shall
                 ------------------------------
not use the ABT Marks without ABTAC's prior written consent.

    (b)  ABTAC hereby grants to AIC a limited license to use and reproduce any
ABT Mark approved in accordance with Sections 2.2(b) and 11.2(a) of this
Agreement, in connection with the marketing arrangements set forth in this
Agreement and for no other purpose, and hereby agree to provide AIC, for the
sole purpose of marketing the Products, acceptable copies of the appropriate ABT
Marks for purposes of reproduction.

   Section 11.3  Low Cost Logo.  The "Auto-By-Tel; Low Cost Auto Insurance
                 -------------
Through [NAME OF PROVIDER]" logo, and all variations and derivatives shall
remain the exclusive property of ABTAC; provided, however, that such logo shall
                                        --------  -------
not refer to AIC after the termination of this Agreement.

   Section 11.4  Use of User Data.  Notwithstanding anything in this Agreement
                 ----------------
to the contrary, AIC shall give to ABT and ABTAC User information subject to
Sections 9.6 and 9.7 which may be used by ABT and ABTAC in any lawful manner,
including for solicitation of such Users for financial products marketed through
the ABT Website, automobile pricing, purchasing, leasing and information
services offered or marketed through the ABT Website and any affinity programs
in which ABT or ABTAC may participate. The ownership interest in such User data
shall be held by AIC. Neither ABT nor ABTAC is an agent for purposes of
collection of insurance data.


12. INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR.

    Section 12.1  No Joint Venture.  Nothing contained in this Agreement creates
                  ----------------
or is intended to create the relationship of a joint venture, partnership,
agency or association between AIC and ABTAC. Nothing in this Agreement shall be
construed to mean that either ABT or ABTAC is a broker or an agent, and in no
event may ABTAC bind AIC to any contract of insurance or vary the terms of any
such contract, nor may AIC bind ABT or ABTAC to any relationship or vary the
terms of any agreement between ABT or ABTAC and any third party.

   Section 12.2  Limitations on Authority.  Each of AIC, ABT and ABTAC shall
                 ------------------------
have only those powers enumerated herein and none other shall be implied.
Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, neither AIC, ABT nor ABTAC
shall do any of the following:

    (a)  Make, accept or endorse notes, endorse checks payable to the other
party, or otherwise incur any expense or liability on behalf of the other party.

                                      10

<PAGE>
 
    (b)  Waive a forfeiture.

    (c)  Extend the time for the payment of monies due the other party beyond
the time agreed to by the other party.

    (d)  Collect money for the other party.

    (e)  Institute, prosecute, or maintain any legal proceedings in connection
with any matter pertaining to the other party's business, unless otherwise
approved in writing by the other party, nor accept legal process on behalf of
the other party.

    (f)  Hold itself out as an authorized agent of the other party in order to
deal with any regulatory authority or file any contract or policy on behalf of
the other party or contact or discuss any matter with any regulatory authority
on behalf of the other party without written approval of that party.


13. [RESERVED]

14. TERM AND TERMINATION.

    Section 14.1  Renewal.  This Agreement shall remain in effect for a period
                  -------
of five (5) years from the effective date ("Initial Term"). This Agreement shall
automatically renew for subsequent five-year terms ("Renewal Term") unless
written notice is given by either party of its intention to terminate this
Agreement at the expiration of the Initial Term or any Renewal Term, as the case
may be, at least one hundred eighty (180) days prior to such expiration. This
Agreement shall also terminate if required by governmental authority or court of
law, but only insofar as this Agreement applies to such jurisdiction affected.

   Section 14.2  Cure Period.  If any party shall be in breach of any material
                 -----------
obligation under this Agreement and such breach shall remain uncured for a
period of thirty (30) days after written notice thereof from the other party
(or, if such breach is curable and requires more than thirty (30) days to cure,
if such cure is not commenced within thirty (30) days and thereafter diligently
prosecuted), then the other party may, by written notice sent, cancel this
Agreement upon 30 days after delivery of such notice.  Non-payment of amounts
due under this Agreement shall be deemed to be a breach of a material obligation
hereunder, but institution of suit for payment of amounts due under this
Agreement shall not be deemed to be a cancellation hereunder.  This Section 14.2
shall not apply to termination pursuant to Section 14.3 or Section 14.4 of this
Agreement.

   Section 14.3  Termination Upon Insolvency.  At any party's option, and upon
                 ---------------------------                                  
written notice of exercise of the option, this Agreement terminates upon the
voluntary or involuntary bankruptcy or insolvency of a party, the voluntary or
involuntary dissolution or liquidation of a party, the admission in writing by a
party of its inability to pay its debts as they mature, or the assignment by a
party for the benefit of creditors.

   Section 14.4  Termination Upon Use of Marks.  If any party shall give notice
                 -----------------------------
to the other, under Section 6.1(b), then the Agreement shall terminate 30 days
after receipt of such notice.

   Section 14.5  Responsibilities Upon Termination.  The termination of this
                 ---------------------------------                          
Agreement shall not terminate, affect, or impair any rights, obligations, or
other liabilities of any party hereto which may accrue prior to such termination
or which, under the terms of this Agreement, continue after the termination.
After termination of this Agreement, coverage under the insurance policies
issued hereunder shall continue pursuant to their terms.  Ownership of all
renewals written after termination of this Agreement shall at all times remain
with AIC.  Each party shall return all property and information rightfully
belonging to the other party which is in its possession at the time of
termination except as otherwise provided herein.  The provisions of this
Paragraph 14.5 shall survive termination of this Agreement.

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested


                                      11

<PAGE>
 
15. INDEMNIFICATION.

    Each party shall hold the other (and its directors,  officers, employees and
authorized agents) harmless from and against any damages, liabilities, claims,
charges, reasonable attorneys' fees, or other costs arising from or in
connection with any claim, action, or proceeding relating to or arising from (a)
any grossly negligent act or omission or any intentional misconduct relating to
the subject matter of this Agreement or (b) the failure to comply with the terms
of this Agreement.  The provisions of this Section 15 shall survive the
termination of this Agreement.


16. NOTICES.

    Section 16.1  Legal and Regulatory Proceedings.  Each party shall promptly
                  --------------------------------
notify the others of any legal or regulatory proceeding or threat of legal or
regulatory proceeding with respect to any matters which are the subject of this
Agreement, except AIC shall have no obligation to notify ABTAC of legal
proceedings involving claims under the Products.

    Section 16.2  Addresses, etc.  All notices pursuant to this Agreement shall
                  --------------
be by facsimile transmission, by personal delivery, or by registered or
certified mail, return receipt requested, to the addresses of the parties listed
below, or such other address as any party listed below shall specify in writing
to the others in a notice conforming to this Section 16.2:

   If to AIC:
                       AIG MARKETING, INC.
                       505 Carr Road
                       Wilmington, DE 19809
                       Attention:   J. Ernest Hansen,
                                    President,
                                    or his successor

   If to ABTAC:
                       AUTO-BY-TEL ACCEPTANCE CORPORATION
                       2711 E. Coast Highway, Suite 203
                       Corona Del Mar, CA 92625
                       Attention:   Peter Ellis,
                                    President,
                                    or his successor

   with copies to:     R.S. GRIMES & CO.
                       152 West 57th Street, 24th Floor
                       New York, NY 10019
                       Attention:   Robert S. Grimes,
                                    President,
                                    or his successor


17. MISCELLANEOUS.

    Section 17.1  Choice of Law, Venue, Jurisdiction.  This Agreement shall be
                  ----------------------------------                          
governed by the internal laws of the State of New York.  The parties agree that
any action in law or in equity brought under this Agreement shall be brought
only in a state or federal court seated in New York County, New York, and each
party hereto consents to the exclusive jurisdiction of such court and venue of
such action.

                                      12

<PAGE>
 
   Section 17.2  Assignment.  Without the prior written consent of the other
                 ----------
party, which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld, this Agreement may not
be assigned in whole or in part by any party other than to an affiliate and
subsidiary (provided (A) such affiliate or subsidiary (i) shall agree in writing
to be bound by the terms of this Agreement and (ii) has a net worth immediately
following the assignment equal to or greater than that of the assignor, and (B)
the assignor gives written assurances that it will cause the assignee to perform
as contained herein or the assignor will perform in the assignee's place).
Notwithstanding the foregoing, ABTAC may assign this Agreement to ABT or any
wholly owned subsidiary of ABT or ABTAC, provided, however, that the guarantee
of ABT pursuant to Section 4.5 herein shall apply as to such subsidiary assignee
in the same manner as it applied to ABTAC.

   Section 17.3  Modification; Waiver.  This Agreement may only be revised
                 --------------------
and/or modified in a writing which must be executed by each of the parties to
this Agreement. No other change, modification, addition, or deletion to any
portion of this Agreement will be valid or binding upon any of them.

   Section 17.4  Entire Agreement.  This Agreement constitutes the entire
                 ----------------
Agreement between the parties with respect to the subject matter contained
herein and supersedes all oral or written negotiations of the parties.

   Section 17.5  Remedies.  All remedies of any party are cumulative. Waiver by
                 --------
any party of any obligation of any other party does not constitute waiver of any
future or other obligation of said party.

   Section 17.6  References and Section Headings.  Any reference to the singular
                 -------------------------------                                
shall include reference to the plural and vice versa.  Section headings are for
description only and shall not be used to interpret this Agreement.

   Section 17.7  Severability.  If any part, term, or provision of this
                 ------------
Agreement shall be held void, illegal, or unenforceable, the validity of the
remaining portions or provisions shall not be affected thereby.

   Section 17.8  Signatures and Recording.  This Agreement shall not go into
                 ------------------------
force until duly executed on behalf of ABTAC, ABT and AIC. Each party represents
and warrants that each of the respective officers executing this Agreement on
its behalf is duly authorized by its Board of Directors and is acting within the
scope of his or her authority to bind said party under this Agreement.

                                      13

<PAGE>
 
   IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties hereto have executed this Agreement below
through their duly authorized officers as of the date first above written.

   AIU INSURANCE COMPANY
   AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL SOUTH INSURANCE COMPANY
   AMERICAN HOME ASSURANCE COMPANY
   AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY
   AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY OF CALIFORNIA, INC.
   ILLINOIS NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY
   MINNESOTA INSURANCE COMPANY
   NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY OF PITTSBURGH, PA
   THE INSURANCE COMPANY OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA



By: /S/ JOHN G. COLOGNA
    --------------------------
    John G. Colona, Vice President



AUTO-BY-TEL ACCEPTANCE CORPORATION



By:  /S/ PETER R. ELLIS
     -------------------------
     Peter Ellis, President


AUTO-BY-TEL, INC., as Guarantor



By:  /S/ PETER R. ELLIS
     -------------------------
     Peter Ellis, President

                                      14

<PAGE>
 
                                  SCHEDULE A
                              ADDITIONAL PRODUCTS


AIG Life Division
- -----------------

   Mega Term (High Limit Term Life)
   Graded Premium Life
   Senior Life
   Birthday Life
   Whole Life
   Universal Life
   Survivorship Universal Life
   Fixed Annuities
   Variable Annuities
   Variable Life

AIG A & H Division
- ------------------

   Hospital Indemnity
   Hospital Accident
   Cancer Coverage
   Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D)

AIG Warranty Services
- ---------------------

   Mechanical Breakdown
   Vehicle Service Agreement (VSA)
   GAP Coverage (stand alone or with above-mentioned products)
   Computer Warranty Coverage

AIG Capital Management Corp.
- ----------------------------

   AIG All Ages Funds

                                 Schedule A-1

<PAGE>
 
                                  SCHEDULE B

     Compensation due to ABTAC pursuant to this Agreement shall be based on a 
flat fee calculated on the basis of [*] after the commencement of Phase I.  
Calculations to adjust the compensation from a [*] to a [*] will occur in months
[*] through [*], the resultant adjustments will be offset against the payments 
of future compensation in months [*] through [*].  For purposes of this Schedule
B, [*] means the [*] for any new or renewal policy reduced only by those amounts
not collected against the [*] amount.  Illustrations of the compensation 
calculation are attached as pages Schedule B-2 through B-7.

     Compensation for new and renewal automobile policies after month 12 shall 
be based on a [*] calculated on the basis of [*].

     Compensation for homeowners and personal umbrella liability policies shall 
be based on a [*] calculated on the basis of [*].

     All payments due ABTAC by AIC during the term of this Agreement shall be 
paid by AIC to ABTAC thirty (30) days after the end of each calendar month.


[*] Confidential Treatment Requested



<PAGE>
 
                                  EXAMPLE # 1

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                            [*] 6-Month Policy Written in Month One and
                                Collected Via Monthly Direct Bill for 1st and 2nd Term (12 Months)
================================================================================================================================== 
                                                                                                             Net Collected
                              Month                                        Premium         Compensation   Premium   Compensation
<C>                                                                  <S>                   <C>            <C>       <C>
1                                                                    [*]                                    [*]
2                                                                                              [*]          [*]          [*]
3                                                                                                           [*]          [*]
4                                                                                                           [*]          [*]
5                                                                                                           [*]          [*]
6                                                                                                           [*]          [*]
7                                                                                                           [*]          [*]
8                                                                                                           [*]          [*]
9                                                                                                           [*]          [*]
10                                                                                                          [*]          [*]
11                                                                                                                       [*]
12
Total*                                                               [*]                       [*]          [*]          [*]
</TABLE>

*  No adjustments required

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested
 

<PAGE>
 
                                  EXAMPLE # 2

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                    [*] 6-Month Policy Written in Month One and
                                   Collected Via Monthly Direct Bill for 1st and
                                      Half of 2nd Term and Then Policy Lapses
================================================================================================================
                                                                                        Net Collected
                    Month                             Premium         Compensation   Premium   Compensation
<C>                                             <S>                   <C>            <C>       <C>
1                                               [*]                                    [*]
2                                                                         [*]          [*]          [*]
3                                                                                      [*]          [*]
4                                                                                      [*]          [*]
5                                                                                      [*]          [*]
6                                                                                      [*]          [*]
7                                                                                      [*]          [*]
8                                                                                                   [*]
9
10
11
12
Total*                                          [*]                       [*]          [*]          [*]
 
</TABLE>

*    [*] compensation adjustment @ [*] per month ([*] -[*] /[*]) will occur in
     months 13 thru 24.


[*] Confidential Treatment Requested


<PAGE>
 
                                  EXAMPLE # 3

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
                                            Same as #1 Except Policy Written in Month 7
============================================================================================================== 
                                                                                       Net Collected
                   Month                            Premium         Compensation   Premium   Compensation
<C>                                           <S>                   <C>            <C>       <C>
1
2
3
4
5
6
7                                             [*]                                    [*]
8                                                                       [*]          [*]          [*]
9                                                                                    [*]          [*]
10                                                                                   [*]          [*]
11                                                                                   [*]          [*]
12                                                                                   [*]          [*]
13                                                                                   [*]          [*]
14                                                                                   [*]          [*]
15                                                                                   [*]          [*]
16                                                                                   [*]          [*]
17                                                                                                [*]
Total*                                        [*]                       [*]          [*]          [*]
</TABLE>

*    No adjustment required

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested


<PAGE>
 
                                  EXAMPLE # 4

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
 
                                    Same as #2 Except Policy Written in Month 7
============================================================================================================== 
                                                                                      Net Collected
                   Month                            Premium         Compensation   Premium   Compensation
<C>                                           <S>                   <C>            <C>       <C>
1
2
3
4
5
6
7                                             [*]                                    [*]
8                                                                       [*]          [*]          [*]
9                                                                                    [*]          [*]
10                                                                                   [*]          [*]
11                                                                                   [*]          [*]
12                                                                                   [*]          [*]
13                                                                                   [*]          [*]
14                                                                                                [*]
15
16
17
Total*                                        [*]                       [*]          [*]          [*]
</TABLE>

*    [*] compensation adjustment @[*] per month ([*] -[*]  / [*]) will occur in
     months 19 thru 30.

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

<PAGE>

                                  EXAMPLE # 5

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
 
                                     Same as #1 & #3 Except Policy Written in Month 12
================================================================================================================== 
                                                                                            Net Collected
                      Month                               Premium         Compensation   Premium   Compensation
<C>                                                 <S>                   <C>            <C>       <C>
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12                                                                                         [*]
13                                                                            [*]          [*]          [*]
14                                                                                         [*]          [*]
15                                                                                         [*]          [*]
16                                                                                         [*]          [*]
17                                                                                         [*]          [*]
18                                                                                         [*]          [*]
19                                                                                         [*]          [*]
20                                                                                         [*]          [*]
21                                                                                         [*]          [*]
22                                                                                                      [*]
Total*                                              [*]                       [*]          [*]          [*]
</TABLE>

*    No adjustment required

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

<PAGE>
 
                                  EXAMPLE # 6

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
 
                                     Same as #1 & #3 Except Policy Written in Month 12
=================================================================================================================== 
                                                                                             Net Collected
                      Month                               Premium         Compensation   Premium   Compensation
<C>                                                 <S>                   <C>            <C>       <C>
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12                                                  [*]                                    [*]
13                                                                            [*]          [*]          [*]
14                                                                                         [*]          [*]
15                                                                                         [*]          [*]
16                                                                                         [*]          [*]
17                                                                                         [*]          [*]
18                                                                                         [*]          [*]
19                                                                                                      [*]
20
21
22
23
Total*                                              [*]                       [*]          [*]          [*]
</TABLE>

*    [*] compensation adjustment @ [*] per month ([*] - [*] / [*]) will occur in
     months 24 thru 35.

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

<PAGE>
 
                                  SCHEDULE C
                          AIGM COMPENSATION FROM AIC

     In any [*] in which collected premium with respect to all policies written
based on referrals from AIGM in connection with the marketing arrangements it
negotiates with Auto-By-Tel Acceptance Corporation exceeds [*] dollars, and the
[*] or [*] AIC shall pay AIGM a [*], as set forth below, based upon statutory
profit as determined by "losses" and "loss ratio" as defined below.

     Losses: that amount which with respect to claims with occurrence dates
during any specified calendar year (hereinafter referred to as "Calendar
Accident Year") is the total of:

     1)   all payments of such claims;

     2)   the amount of case reserves on such claims;

     3)   a reasonable (in light of AIC practices in its other similar
portfolios) provision for future development of case reserves on such claims;

     4)   a reasonable (in light of AIC practices in its other similar
portfolios) provision for payment of such claims incurred but not yet reported
to the insurance company;

     5)   a reduction for salvage and subrogation payments, received or
receivable, resulting from all claims;

     6)   the amount of loss adjustment expenses (the reasonable and customary
costs associated with the defense and/or settlement of a claim, except for the
claim payment itself) incurred or reasonably anticipated;

     7)   a residual market subsidy based on the proportional state-by-state
distribution of the business in relation to residual market deficits;

     8)   a loss carryover provision which consists of the dollar amount by
which the loss ratio percentage exceeds the target loss ratio in the preceding
Calendar Accident Year calculation. This carryover will be restated each time
the preceding [*] is adjusted in accordance with the payment cycle set forth
below. Bad faith claim payments are specifically excluded from the definition of
Losses.

     Loss Ratio:  a fraction with the numerator being the sum of the losses, and
the denominator being the corresponding earned premium with respect to the
specified [*], rounded to the nearest one tenth percent.

     Target:  a loss ratio calculated for each applicable [*] which is derived 
by [*] . This calculation is rounded to the nearest percent.

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested


<PAGE>
 
                                      [*]     Chart
                        --------------------------------

<TABLE> 
<CAPTION> 
29.       Loss Ratio*                            [*]
          ----------                       --------------
<S>                                        <C> 

          Target and Higher                    0%
     (Target -[*].0%) to (Target -[X]%)           [X]%
     (Target -[*].0%) to (Target -[X] )           [X]%
     (Target -[*].0%) to (Target -[X]%)           [X]%
     (Target -[*].0%) to (Target -[X]%)           [X]%
     (Target -[*].0%) to (Target -[X]%)           [X]%
     (Target -[*].0%) to (Target -[X]%)           [X]%
     (Target -[*].0%) to (Target -[X]%)           [X]%
     (Target -[*].1%) and Lower                   [X]%
</TABLE>
 

     *    The endpoints of each range are included in the range.

     AIC shall, if appropriate, pay the [*] to AIGM based on initial calculation
and three subsequent adjustments for each [*] to reflect the ultimate
development of losses and over-reserves, as applicable. The first [*] will begin
on [*] and end on [*]. Subsequent [*] will run similarly.

     The initial calculation for each [*] will be made in the 18th month after
the beginning of a [*] based on inception to date of evaluation losses for that
[*] and the [*] shall be paid in accordance with the Profit Sharing Contingency
Chart, if appropriate, by [*] in which the calculation is made according to the
[*]. The first adjustment to the initial calculation for each [*] will be made
in the after the beginning of such [*] based on inception to date of evaluation
losses for such [*]. In the event the first adjustment indicates overpayment in
the initial calculation of a [*], the amount of overpayment will be deducted
from [*] due for other [*] and, if not sufficient, the remaining overpayment
will be deducted from current commissions. In the event the first adjustment
indicates underpayment in the initial calculation of a [*], such payment shall
be made by [*] of the [*] in which the first adjustment is made.

     The second and third adjustments for each [*] will be made in the [*] and
[*] respectively, after the beginning of a [*] based on the same criteria as the
first adjustment, and payments will be deducted or made in accordance with the
procedure established for the first adjustment.

     In the event this Agreement is terminated, all rights to payments from this
[*] shall terminate.

     The compensation paid by AIC pursuant to this Schedule is for marketing
access negotiated by AIGM and provided on the ABT Website by ABTAC.

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested


<PAGE>
 
                        AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL COMPANIES
                            c/o AIG Marketing, Inc.
                                 505 Carr Road
                          Wilmington, Delaware  19809


                                 July 23, 1996



Auto-By-Tel, Inc.
2711 East Coast Highway
Suite 203
Corona del Mar, California 92625

Attention:  Mr. Peter Ellis, President
- ----------                            

     Re:  Marketing Agreement between Auto-By-Tel Acceptance Corporation on the
          one hand, and AIU Insurance Company, American International South
          Insurance  Company, American Home Assurance Company, American
          International Insurance  Company, American International Insurance
          Company of California, Inc., Illinois  National Insurance Company,
          Minnesota Insurance Company, National Union Fire  Insurance Company of
          Pittsburgh, PA and The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania
          on the other hand, and Auto-By-Tel, Inc. as Guarantor of the
          obligations of Auto-By-Tel Acceptance Corporation dated as of July 22,
          1996 (the "Marketing Agreement")
          ----------------------------------------------------------------------

Gentlemen:

          Reference is made to Section 8 of the above-referenced Marketing
Agreement.  Capitalized terms used herein and in the attached Schedule A, and
not defined herein or therein, shall have the meanings ascribed thereto in the
Marketing Agreement.  This will confirm our agreement that compensation to be
paid for the services provided to AIC pursuant to Section 4.6 of the Marketing
Agreement shall be calculated and paid in accordance with the attached Schedule
A on or before August 31, 1997, and on each August 31st thereafter for as long
as the Marketing Agreement is in effect.  Please confirm that this represents
our understanding with respect to the foregoing matter by executing a copy of
this letter in the space provided below and returning to the undersigned.

<PAGE>
 
                                                            Best regards.

Very truly yours,

                                              AIU INSURANCE COMPANY
                                              AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL SOUTH
                                               INSURANCE COMPANY
                                              AMERICAN HOME ASSURANCE
                                               COMPANY
                                              AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL
                                               INSURANCE COMPANY
                                              AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL
                                               INSURANCE COMPANY OF CALIFORNIA,
                                               INC.
                                              ILLINOIS NATIONAL INSURANCE
                                               COMPANY
                                              MINNESOTA INSURANCE COMPANY
                                              NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE
                                               COMPANY OF PITTSBURGH, PA
                                              THE INSURANCE COMPANY OF THE
                                               STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA


                                              By:  /S/ JOHN G. COLONA
                                                  -------------------
                                                  John G. Colona, Vice President


cc:  Mr. Robert S. Grimes
     Robert S. Grimes & Company
     152 West 57th Street
     24th Floor
     New York, NY 10019


CONFIRMED AS OF JULY 24, 1996

AUTO-BY-TEL ACCEPTANCE CORP.

By: /S/ PETER R. ELLIS
    -----------------------------------
     Peter Ellis, President


                                      -2-

<PAGE>
 
                                  SCHEDULE A

30.  Schedule A-1

     In any [*] in which collected premium with respect to all policies written
in connection with the marketing arrangements exceeds [*] dollars, and [*] AIC
shall pay ABTAC additional compensation, as set forth below, based upon
statutory profit as determined by "losses" and "loss ratio" as defined below.

     Losses: that amount which with respect to claims with occurrence dates
during any specified calendar year (hereinafter referred to as [*] is the total
of:

1.   all payments of such claims;

2.   the amount of case reserves on such claims;

3.   a reasonable (in light of AIC practices in its other similar portfolios)
     provision for future development of case reserves on such claims;

4.   a reasonable (in light of AIC practices in its other similar portfolios)
     provision for payment of such claims incurred but not yet reported to the
     insurance company;

5.   a reduction for salvage and subrogation payments, received or receivable,
     resulting from all claims;

6.   the amount of loss adjustment expenses (the reasonable and customary costs
     associated with the defense and/or settlement of a claim, except for the
     claim payment itself) incurred or reasonably anticipated;

7.   a residual market subsidy based on the proportional state-by-state
     distribution of the business in relation to residual market deficits;

8.   a loss carryover provision which consists of the dollar amount by which the
     loss ratio percentage exceeds the target loss ratio in the preceding
     Calendar Accident Year calculation. This carryover will be restated each
     time the preceding [*] is adjusted in accordance with the payment cycle set
     forth below. Bad faith claim payments are specifically excluded from the
     definition of Losses.

     Loss Ratio: a fraction with the numerator being the sum of the losses, and
the denominator being the corresponding earned premium with respect to the
specified Calendar Accident Year, rounded to the nearest one tenth percent.

     Target: a loss ratio calculated for each applicable [*] which is derived by
[*]. This calculation is rounded to the nearest percent.



[*] Confidential Treatment Requested


                                      -3-

<PAGE>
 

31.  Schedule A-2 (Additional Compensation Chart)

          Loss Ratio*                Additional Compensation
          ----------                 -----------------------

          Target and Higher                   [*]
     (Target - [*] to (Target - [*]           [*]
     (Target - [*] to (Target - [*]           [*]
     (Target - [*] to (Target - [*]           [*]
     (Target - [*] to (Target - [*]           [*]
     (Target - [*] to (Target - [*]           [*]
     (Target - [*] to (Target - [*]           [*]
     (Target - [*] to (Target - [*]           [*]
     (Target - [*] and Lower                  [*]

* The endpoints of each range are included in the range.

     "AIC shall, if appropriate, pay the additional compensation to ABTAC based
on an initial calculation and three subsequent adjustments for each [*] to
reflect the ultimate development of losses and over-reserves, as applicable. The
first [*] will begin on [*] and end on [*]. Subsequent [*] will run similarly.

     The initial calculation for each [*] will be made in the 18th month after
the beginning of a [*] based on inception to date of evaluation losses for that
[*] and the additional compensation shall be paid in accordance with the
Additional Compensation Chart, if appropriate, by [*] in which the calculation
is made. The first adjustment to the initial calculation for each [*] will be
made in the [*] after the beginning of such [*] based on inception to date of
evaluation losses for such [*]. In the event the first adjustment indicates
overpayment in the initial calculation of a [*], the amount of overpayment will
be deducted from additional compensation due for other [*] and, if not
sufficient, the remaining overpayment will be deducted from current compensation
under the Marketing Agreement. In the event the first adjustment indicates
underpayment in the initial calculation of a [*], such payment shall be made by
[*] in which the first adjustment is made.

     The second and third adjustments for each [*] will be made in the [*] and
[*] respectively, after the beginning of a [*] based on the same criteria as the
first adjustment, and payments will be deducted or made in accordance with the
procedure established for the first adjustment.

     In the event the Marketing Agreement is terminated, all rights to payments
of additional compensation amounts shall terminate."


[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                      -4-

<PAGE>
 
                         ADDITIONAL COMPENSATION CHART
                         -----------------------------
[*]
     "AIC shall, if appropriate, pay the additional compensation to ABTAC based
on an initial calculation and three subsequent adjustments for each Calendar
Accident Year to reflect the ultimate development of losses and over-reserves,
as applicable.  The first Calendar Accident Year will begin on January 1, 1996
and end on December 31, 1996.  Subsequent Calendar Accident Years will run
similarly.

     The initial calculation for each Calendar Accident Year will be made in the
18th month after the beginning of a Calendar Accident Year based on inception to
date of evaluation losses for that Calendar Accident Year and the additional
compensation shall be paid in accordance with the Additional Compensation Chart,
if appropriate, by August 31st of the year in which the calculation is made.
The first adjustment to the initial calculation for each Calendar Accident Year
will be made in the 30th month after the beginning of such Calendar Accident
Year based on inception to date of evaluation losses for such Calendar Accident
Year.  In the event the first adjustment indicates overpayment in the initial
calculation of a Calendar Accident Year, the amount of overpayment will be
deducted from additional compensation due for other Calendar Accident Years and,
if not sufficient, the remaining overpayment will be deducted from current
compensation under the Marketing Agreement.  In the event the first adjustment
indicates underpayment in the initial calculation of a Calendar Accident Year,
such payment shall be made by August 31st of the year in which the first
adjustment is made.

     The second and third adjustments for each Calendar Accident Year will be
made in the 42nd month and 54th month, respectively, after the beginning of a
Calendar Accident Year based on the same criteria as the first adjustment, and
payments will be deducted or made in accordance with the procedure established
for the first adjustment.

     In the event the Marketing Agreement is terminated, all rights to payments
of additional compensation amounts shall terminate."

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested




<PAGE>
 
                                                                    EXHIBIT 10.9

                      MICROSOFT ONLINE MARKETING AGREEMENT

          THIS ONLINE MARKETING AGREEMENT ("Agreement") is made and entered into
as of the later of the two signature dates below (the "Effective Date") by and
between AUTO-BY-TEL, LLC ("ABT"), a California limited liability company, and
MICROSOFT CORPORATION ("MS"), a Washington, U.S.A. corporation.

                                    Recitals
                                    --------

          i.  MS has established an online service for the Microsoft Network
called "CarSource" that includes research materials and other useful information
about Automobiles (as defined below) and accessories.

          ii.  ABT operates an Automobile marketing company which has
subscribing dealers throughout the United States.  ABT plans to expand
operations with subscribing dealers in other territories outside the United
States.

          iii.  MS and ABT wish to enter into a business relationship to develop
and implement an Automobile marketing service on CarSource for persons
interested in purchasing Automobiles in the United States, Canada, and other
territories subject to all the terms and conditions of this Agreement.

NOW, THEREFORE, the parties agree as follows:


                                   Agreement
                                   ---------

1.        DEFINITIONS.  In addition to the terms defined elsewhere in this
          -----------                                                     
Agreement, the following terms, when used herein,
 shall have the following
meanings:

          1.1  "Automobile" shall mean any kind of motor vehicle, including, but
not limited to, passenger vehicles, trucks, and vans.

          1.2  "CarSource" shall mean the MS-sponsored service on the Microsoft
Network ("MSN") that includes information and materials related to Automobiles,
including any successor products and/or services that appear on MSN or the
Internet's World Wide Web.

          1.3  "Person" or "Persons" shall mean an individual, corporation,
partnership, unincorporated association, trust, joint venture or other
organization or entity.

          1.4  "Dealer" shall mean an independently operated retail seller of
Automobiles that is located in the United States, Canada or other territories
and is a subscribing member to ABT's marketing program.

[*] Confidential Treatment has been requested for portions of this exhibit.


<PAGE>
 
2.        ONLINE MARKETING SERVICE
          ------------------------

          2.1  Within a reasonable period after the Effective Date, MS shall,
with the assistance of ABT, develop and post a digital page or portion thereof
on CarSource featuring information about ABT's auto marketing and financing
services and an interactive electronic order form in substantially the form of
Exhibit A hereto (an "E-form"). At least [*] during the term of this Agreement,
- ---------                                                                       
MS or its representatives shall download all E-forms that have been completed by
CarSource users and transmit them to ABT via electronic mail or other reasonable
means to ensure prompt delivery to ABT. No later than [*] after receiving each
E-form, ABT shall forward the E-form to one of its subscribing Dealers who will
call the CarSource user with information regarding the price and availability of
the vehicle request.

          2.2  ABT may offer information regarding Automobile financing and
leasing options to CarSource users in response to an E-form request for such
information.

          2.3  ABT shall at all times conduct its operations with respect to the
marketing program described above in a reasonable and professional manner in
accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.

          2.4  The rights set forth in Sections 2.1 and 2.2 above are granted on
a non-exclusive basis; provided, that MS shall not grant such rights to any
other party during the term of this Agreement on terms and conditions that are
more favorable than the terms and conditions of this Agreement.

3.        TERM.  The term of this Agreement shall be three (3) years from the 
          ----
Effective Date unless terminated earlier in accordance with Section 12.

4.        FEES.
          ---- 

          4.1  Marketing Fees. ABT shall pay MS a fee of a fee of [*]
               --------------
for each complete E-form that MS transmits to ABT pursuant to Section 2.1,
above, whether or not the CarSource users purchase an Automobile through ABT or
its Dealers. MS shall not forward any incomplete E-forms to ABT. No marketing
fee shall be paid or incurred by ABT for E-forms in excess of one (1) per each
CarSource user during any sixty (60) day period. ABT shall not deduct or
withhold any amounts from such payments, except for any applicable taxes which
are required to be withheld or deducted by applicable law.

          4.2  Finance & Leasing Fees. ABT shall pay to MS a fee equal to [*] 
               ----------------------
of the origination fee that ABT receives from each Third Party in connection
with such a financing or leasing transaction. The parties understand and agree
that at the time of signing this Agreement, the origination fees that ABT
expects to pay to MS are as follows: (a) [*] for each finance or lease
transaction less than [*] with a CarSource user referred by MS for which ABT has
received an origination fee from any third party, including an affiliate of ABT
(each, a "Third Party"), and (b) [*] for each finance or lease transaction
greater than [*] with a CarSource user for which ABT has received an origination
fee from any Third Party. ABT shall not deduct or withhold any

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                      -2-

<PAGE>
 
amounts from such payments, except for any applicable taxes which are required
to be withheld or deducted by applicable law. ABT shall at all times act in good
faith with respect to the calculation and payment of such fees and shall not
attempt to limit such fees by restructuring its financial arrangement with
lending institutions so as to avoid payment of the fees described in this
Section. In addition to the fees described in this Section 4, ABT shall pay MS
the fees described in Section 10.2.

5.            PAYMENT SCHEDULE.  Within thirty days after the end of each
              ----------------                                                
calendar month with respect to which ABT owes MS any fees pursuant to Section 4
and/or 10.2, ABT shall furnish MS a statement together with payment for any
amount shown thereby to be due to MS. The fee statement shall contain
information about (a) the number of E-forms received from MS during the period,
(b) the total marketing fee payment to MS, (c) the number of CarSource users
referred by ABT to financing entities during the period, (d) the number of
CarSource users who completed a financing transaction for an Automobile with a
financing entity referred by ABT during the period, (e) the total amount of
financing origination fees received by ABT during the period, pursuant to this
Agreement (f) the total amount of the financing origination fee payment to MS,
(g) the amount of any deductions from amounts payable to MS and the method of
calculating such deductions, (h) the number of CarSource users who completed a
user survey authorized under Section 10.2, (i) the number of CarSource users who
registered for the affinity program described in Section 10.2, (j) the amount of
any fees payable to MS pursuant to Section 10.2, and (k) any other information
that is relevant to the payment terms described in this Agreement.

6.           HYPERLINK. During the term of this Agreement, ABT shall prominently
             ---------
feature a hyperlink to the uniform resource locator for MS CarSource on ABT's
World Wide Web home page in the manner set forth on Exhibit B hereto. ABT shall
                                                    ---------
not materially modify the placement, size, presentation or layout of the
hyperlink to MS CarSource without the written consent of MS, which shall not be
unreasonably withheld. In addition, ABT shall not place hyperlinks to World Wide
Web home pages of on-line services that compete with CarSource (e.g., Edmunds,
Autoinfocenter, Autolink) on the same level as the hyperlink to CarSource. MS
hereby consents to the use of the "Microsoft" and "CarSource" trademarks for the
limited purposes described in this Section 6.

7.            USE OF TRADEMARKS. ABT hereby grants MS the right to use and
              -----------------
publish in connection with the promotion of the services described in Section 2
of this Agreement the following unregistered trademarks and trade names which
are associated with ABT ("ABT's Trademarks"):

                                  Auto-by-Tel
                                Auto-by-Tel, LLC

MS shall add the appropriate trademark symbol or designation (i.e., (TM) or R),
as shown above wherever ABT's Trademarks are first mentioned in CarSource. ABT
shall promptly notify MS in the event that any person shall challenge its right
to use such Trademarks in connection with the Business (defined below). The
rights granted by this section shall not preclude MS from creating, developing,
applying for and obtaining and otherwise using and enjoying any logos,
trademarks and trade names of its own with respect to any products or services,
nor applying for and obtaining copyright and/or trademark protection therefor.

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                      -3-

<PAGE>
 
8.            REPRESENTATIONS, WARRANTIES, AND COVENANTS OF ABT.  ABT hereby 
              -------------------------------------------------
represents, warrants, and covenants to MS that:

          8.1  ABT has the full and exclusive right and power to enter into and
perform according to the terms of this Agreement.  Without limiting the
foregoing, ABT warrants that (i) to the best of ABT's knowledge, ABT has the
full and exclusive right to grant MS the licenses granted herein to use the
trademarks and trade names and, to the best of ABT's knowledge, the use of such
trademarks and tradenames by MS as provided under this Agreement will not
violate any trademark, or other proprietary right of any third party, and (ii)
it shall not violate any rights of privacy of any third party in providing the
services described in Section 2.

          8.2  Personnel of ABT shall be available to consult with respect to
the matters governed by this Agreement with MS and its personnel, at such times
and for such periods as MS may reasonably request.

          8.3  ABT and its officers, directors, employees, contractors, agents
and representatives shall conduct all activities related to this Agreement in
compliance with all applicable laws or regulations including, but not limited to
the laws and regulations relating to the sale and brokerage of automobiles,
telemarketing, consumer credit, and tax laws.

          8.4  ABT has obtained standard form general liability insurance from a
nationally-recognized insurance provider and such policy has limits of Four
Million Dollars ($4,000,000) and coverage of Two Million Dollars ($2,000,000)
per occurrence and ABT shall maintain such insurance (or comparable replacement
insurance) at all times during the term of this Agreement and for a period of
one year thereafter.

The representations, warranties, and covenants contained in this Section 8 are
continuous in nature and shall survive termination or expiration of this
Agreement except as expressly stated in Section 8.4.

9.        INDEMNITY.
          ---------

          9.1  ABT hereby agrees to indemnify, pay the defense costs of, and
hold MS harmless from any and all claims, demands, costs, liabilities, losses,
expenses and damages (including attorneys' fees, costs, and expert witnesses'
fees) arising out of or in connection with any claim which, taking the
claimant's allegations to be true, (a) would result in a breach by ABT of any of
ABT's warranties and covenants set forth in this Agreement, or (b) would
constitute a violation of any applicable law or regulation governing the
business of ABT. ABT shall reimburse MS on demand for any payment made by MS in
respect of any liability or claim to which the foregoing indemnity relates, and
which has resulted in an adverse judgment against MS or has been settled with
the written consent of ABT. Prompt notice shall be given to ABT of any claim to
which the foregoing indemnity relates. The indemnity provisions hereof shall
survive any termination or expiration of this Agreement.

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                      -4-

<PAGE>
 
          9.2  MS hereby agrees to indemnify, pay the defense costs of, and hold
ABT harmless from any and all claims, demands, costs, liabilities, losses,
expenses and damages (including attorneys' fees, costs, and expert witnesses'
fees) arising out of or in connection with any claim which is related to MS's
operation of CarSource, except for claims, demands, costs, liabilities, losses,
expenses and damages arising out of or in connection with any claim related to
the business of ABT and such other claims as ABT has an obligation to indemnify
MS pursuant to Section 9.1 of this Agreement. MS shall reimburse ABT on demand
for any payment made by ABT in respect of any liability or claim to which the
foregoing indemnity relates, and which has resulted in an adverse judgment
against ABT or has been settled with the written consent of MS. Prompt notice
shall be given to MS of any claim to which the foregoing indemnity relates. The
indemnity provisions hereof shall survive any termination or expiration of this
Agreement.

10.       NONDISCLOSURE AGREEMENT.
          -----------------------
          10.1  Each party expressly undertakes to retain in confidence and to
require its distributors, resellers and all other contractors to retain in
confidence all information and know-how transmitted to such party that the
disclosing party has identified as being proprietary and/or confidential or
which, by the nature of the circumstances surrounding the disclosure, ought in
good faith to be treated as proprietary and/or confidential. Without limiting
the foregoing, the existence and all terms and conditions of this Agreement
shall be considered confidential and shall not be disclosed (except to either
party's attorneys and accountants on a need-to-know basis or under order from a
court of competent jurisdiction) without the prior written consent of the other
party. Except as specifically provided for in this Agreement, ABT shall not use
the information about individual CarSource users (including information
disclosed on E-forms) or disclose such information to any third party except as
specifically authorized by MS in this Agreement or consented to in writing by
MS; by way of illustration and not limitation, ABT agrees that it shall not
disclose information about individual CarSource users to any on-line service
provider, on-line marketing company, automobile magazine publisher, or
automobile company without the express written permission of MS.

          10.2  ABT may conduct follow up surveys to CarSource users who submit
requests to ABT. These surveys shall be sent via email within one week of the
original request submission. The primary purpose of such surveys will be to
measure customer satisfaction with the ABT auto marketing and finance services,
the performance of individual Dealers, type of vehicle purchased, etc. As part
of the email survey, ABT may offer to CarSource users free membership in an ABT
affinity program of auto-related discounts, products, and services. For every
CarSource user who accepts ABT's offer to join the affinity program, ABT shall
pay to MS a fee of [*]. This fee is in addition to any Marketing Fees or Finance
and Leasing fees earned with respect to said CarSource user pursuant to Section
5 of this Agreement.

11.       AUDITS
          ------

          11.1  ABT agrees to keep all proper records and books of account and
all proper entries therein relating to the referral of prospective Automobile
purchasers and the financing of Automobiles purchased by CarSource users
referred to ABT by MS and MS' fees therefrom.

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested


                                      -5-

<PAGE>
 
          11.2 MS may cause an audit to be made, at its expense, of ABT's
applicable records in order to verify statements rendered hereunder; provided,
that if there is a greater than five percent (5%) discrepancy between the
amounts paid by ABT to MS and the amounts that should have been paid, according
to the statements, as audited, then ABT shall pay MS, in addition to any unpaid
fees, the cost of such audit. Any such audit shall be conducted only by a
nationally-recognized independent certified public accountant (other than on a
contingency fee basis) who is not the primary internal auditor for either ABT or
MS, upon thirty (30) days prior written notice to ABT, and shall be conducted
during regular business hours at ABT's offices and in such a manner as not to
interfere with ABT's normal business activities. The results of any such audit
shall be subject to the nondisclosure obligations set forth in Section 10.

12.       TERMINATION.  MS may terminate this Agreement by written notice to ABT
          -----------
at any time if it determines in its sole discretion that the services provided
by ABT and/or its Dealers jeopardize MS's good name or brands or expose MS to
financial or legal risks that are unacceptable to MS, as determined by MS in its
sole discretion. In addition, MS may terminate this Agreement for any other
cause or no cause ten (10) days upon advance written notice.

13.       RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS UPON EXPIRATION OR TERMINATION.  MS shall cease
          -----------------------------------------------------                 
all transmission of the E-form and references to ABT in CarSource on or before
ten (10) days after the date of expiration or termination of this Agreement. ABT
shall cease all references to CarSource and its hyperlink to CarSource on or
before ten (10) days after the termination or expiration of this Agreement.

14.       DELIVERY OF LEGAL NOTICES.  During the term of this Agreement, ABT
          -------------------------                                         
shall promptly deliver to MS, and in no event less than ten (10) days after
receipt by ABT, copies of any and all (a) letters from third parties, including
governmental agencies, that relate to the potential commencement of legal or
administrative proceedings against ABT in connection with the business described
in this Agreement (the "business"), and (b) all summons, complaints, and
petitions served by third parties upon ABT in connection with legal or
administrative proceedings arising out of the Business, except to the extent
that such disclosure would be prevented by the terms of a protective order of a
court or governmental entity.

15.       GOVERNING LAW, VENUE, ATTORNEYS' FEES
          -------------------------------------

          15.1  This Agreement shall be construed and controlled by the laws
of the State of Washington, and ABT further consents to jurisdiction by the
state or federal courts sitting in the State of Washington. Process may be
served on either party by U.S. Mail, postage prepaid, certified or registered,
return receipt requested, or by such other method as is authorized by law.

          15.2  If either MS or ABT employs attorneys to enforce any rights 
arising out of or relating to this Agreement, the prevailing party shall be
entitled to recover reasonable attorneys' fees and costs, including expert
witness fees.

                                      -6-

<PAGE>
 
16.       NOTICES AND REQUESTS.  All notices and requests in connection with
          --------------------                                              
this Agreement shall be deemed given as of the day they are (i) deposited in the
U.S. mails, postage prepaid, certified or registered, return receipt requested;
or (ii) sent by overnight courier, charges prepaid, with a confirming fax; and
addressed as follows:

     COMPANY:       AUTO-BY-TEL., LLC
                    2711 E. Coast Highway
                    Suite 203
                    Corona Del Mar, CA  92625

     Attention:     President
     Fax:           (714) 675-4062
     Phone:         (714) 675-7171

     MS:            MICROSOFT CORPORATION
                    One Microsoft Way
                    Redmond, WA  98052-6399

     Attention:     Vice President, Worldwide Consumer Division

     with a cc to:  MICROSOFT CORPORATION
                    One Microsoft Way
                    Redmond, WA  98052-6399

     Attention:     Law & Corporate Affairs Department
     Fax:           U.S. Legal Group
                    (206) 936-7329

or to such other address as the party to receive the notice or request so
designates by written notice to the other.

17.       NO ASSIGNMENT.  Neither party may assign this Agreement, or any 
          -------------
portion thereof, to any third party unless the other party expressly consents to
such assignment in writing. Any attempted assignment without such consent shall
give the non-assigning party the right to terminate this Agreement effective
upon written notice.

18.       LEGAL RELATIONSHIP.  This Agreement is intended solely as a services
          ------------------                                                  
agreement, and no partnership, joint venture, employment, agency, franchise, or
other form of Agreement or relationship is intended.

19.       SEVERABILITY.  In the event that any provision of this Agreement is 
          ------------
found invalid or unenforceable pursuant to judicial decree or decision, the
remainder of this Agreement shall remain valid and enforceable according to its
terms. The parties intend that the provisions of this Agreement be enforced to
the fullest extent permitted by applicable law.

                                      -7-

<PAGE>
 
20.       ENTIRE AGREEMENT/MODIFICATION/OFFER.  The parties hereto agree that 
          -----------------------------------
this Agreement constitutes the entire Agreement between the parties with respect
to the subject matter hereof and merges all prior and contemporaneous
communications. It shall not be modified except by a written agreement dated
subsequent hereto signed on behalf of ABT and MS by their duly authorized
representatives. Neither this Agreement nor any written or oral statements
related hereto constitute an offer, and this Agreement shall not be legally
binding until executed by both parties hereto.

21.       BINDING EFFECT.  Subject to the limitations herein before expressed,
          --------------
this Agreement will inure to the benefit of and be binding upon the parties,
their successors, administrators, heirs, and permitted assigns.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties hereto have caused this Agreement to be executed
as of the dates indicated below.


MICROSOFT  CORPORATION             AUTO-BY-TEL, LLC.


/S/ GARTH HITCHINS                 /S/ PETER R. ELLIS
- ----------------------------       ----------------------------
By                                 By


GARTH HITCHINS                     PETER R. ELLIS
- ----------------------------       ----------------------------
Name (Print)                       Name (Print)


PRODUCT UNIT MANAGER               PRESIDENT
- ----------------------------       ----------------------------

Title                               Title


MARCH 27, 1996                     MARCH 11, 1996
- ----------------------------       ----------------------------
Date                               Date

                                      -8-

<PAGE>
 
                                   EXHIBIT A
                                   ---------

                             ELECTRONIC ORDER FORM
                             ---------------------

A completed Electronic Order Form will contain the following information:

First Name
Last Name
Street Address, Apt./Suite #
City
State
Zip Code
Phone Number
Year, Make, and Model of Vehicle Requested

                                      -9-

<PAGE>
 
                                   EXHIBIT B
                                   ---------

                                ABT Screen Shot

                                     -10-



<PAGE>
 
                                                                   EXHIBIT 10.10

                             ADVERTISING AGREEMENT
                             ---------------------


          This Agreement, effective as of October 15, 1996, is made and entered
into by Digital City, Inc. ("DCI"), a Delaware corporation with its principal
offices at 8619 Westwood Center Drive, Vienna, VA 22182, and Auto-By-Tel
("Advertiser"), with its principal offices or address at 18872 MacArthur Blvd.,
Suite 200, Irvine, California 92612-1400.


                                INTRODUCTION
                                ------------

DCI is a subsidiary of America Online, Inc. that operates the Digital City(SM)
brand service (the "DCI Service") which assembles, packages and markets local
interactive consumer content and services for particular metropolitan or other
local areas throughout the United States and the World through the America
Online(R) Service ("AOL"), the World Wide Web and other distribution partners.
Auto-By-Tel Inc. is an online marketing program that, among other things,
assists consumers in buying or leasing new automobiles via electronic purchase
requests on the Internet.

Advertiser wishes to include an advertising icon (the "Icon") consisting of logo
identification and a prominent photo or graphic with caption on the Main screen,
the Main Auto screen, and various other screens of the DCI Service markets
listed in Exhibit C hereto (the "Markets")
 which, when activated, will provide
access to an Advertiser site on the DCI Service (the "Advertising Site").
Advertiser's involvement with the Digital City web-site on the World Wide Web is
not addressed in this contract and will be addressed at a later date when it
becomes available.


                                    TERMS

       1. Duties of DCI.

          1.1  During the Term, DCI shall create and display the Icon and the
Advertising Site.  Subscribers to the DCI Service may click on the Icon in order
to activate a link to the Advertising Site.  The design, contents, rotation, and
placement of the Icon and Advertising site shall be as mutually agreed upon by
DCI and Advertiser and are specified in Exhibit A hereto.

          1.2  Exclusivity.  

During the Term, DCI agrees that it will not sell advertising in any of the
Markets to marketing programs where electronic new car lease or purchase
requests are routed to a marketing company, to new car brokers or to automobile
manufacturers. Exclusivity does not effect individual dealer or automobile
manufacturer advertisements, used car sales, or classified sections of Digital
City Markets. DCI subscribers may solicit price quotes by telephone or by email
directly from automobile dealers and manufacturers provided that the advertising
icon appearing on the DCI Service, if any, connected to such dealers and
manufacturers does not directly invite DCI subscribers to receive a price quote.
This Section 1.2 shall have no affect on advertising sold into the Markets prior
to the commencement of this Agreement.

[*] Confidential Treatment has been requested for certain portions of this 
    exhibit

<PAGE>
 
EXHIBIT 10.10 ADVERTISING AGREEMENT DATED OCTOBER 15, 1996 BETWEEN REGISTRANT
AND DIGITAL CITY, INC.
 
          1.3  Advertiser will be given two keywords for promotion within the
DCI Service. They are AUTOBYTEL and AUTO-BY-TEL.

          1.4  Overhead Account.  DCI shall grant one (1) account on AOL, for 
               ----------------
which the standard subscription and usage charges will be waived during the Term
("Overhead Accounts") for the exclusive purpose of enabling Advertiser and its
agents to perform Advertiser's duties under this Agreement. Advertiser shall be
responsible for the actions taken under or through its Overhead Accounts, which
actions are subject to (i) DCI's applicable rules and policies; (ii) any
surcharges, including, without limitation, all premium charges, transaction
charges, and any applicable communication surcharges incurred by any Overhead
Account issued to Advertiser; and (iii) the AOL Terms of Service. Upon the
termination of this Agreement, such Overhead Account, related screen names and
any associated usage credits or similar rights, shall automatically terminate.
DCI shall have no liability for loss of any data or content related to the
proper termination of any such Overhead Account.

          1.5  Advertiser will be provided with a Plus Group to monitor the
performance of the Advertising Site.  A Plus Group is the traffic measurement
system used to analyze online activity within the DCI Service.  Nielsen audited
traffic information will be provided as it becomes available.

          1.6  DCI is obligated to provide Production of one Rainman page for
Advertiser which provides the introduction of the product and links to the
Advertiser web site.

          1.7  DCI will provide Advertiser with up to two production changes in
artwork for the Icon at no cost.  Subsequently, Advertiser will be subject to
negotiated rates for production.

      2.  Duties of Advertiser.

          2.1  Advertiser is obligated to purchase each Market within one month
from launch of such Market.

          2.2  Advertiser shall respond promptly and professionally to
questions, comments, complaints and other reasonable requests from DCI
subscribers regarding the Advertising Site.

          2.3  Advertiser will provide for the timely delivery of automotive
price quotes to DCI consumers.

          2.4  Advertiser agrees to pay DCI according to section 5 below,
"Revenues To DCI".

      3.  Rights of DCI.

          3.1  Advertiser agrees that (i) DCI has the right to market, display,
transmit and promote the Advertising Site as provided above and (ii) subscribers
to the DCI Service have the right

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                      -2-

<PAGE>
 
to access and use the Advertising Site and the content and services contained
therein (including any of the Advertiser's trademarks, trade names and service
marks included within the Advertising Site).

          3.2  Subject to Sections 1.2 and 1.3, DCI will retain the right to
distribute automotive content of all types in the DCI automotive areas online.

      4.  Performance Clause.

          4.1  The [*] of advertising will be given to Advertiser at [*]. The
[*] will begin upon activation of the affinity button in each Market. The
affinity button is a button on the welcome screen of America Online that links
to local Digital City markets.

          4.2  After the [*] provided in Section 4.1 above, there will be a [*]
"start up" period.

          4.3  In each Market, after the initial six month period set forth in
Sections 4.1 and 4.2 above has ended, a measurement figure of per [*] "Purchase
Request" will take effect for the remainder of the Term. If the average
"Purchase Request" for a thirty (30) day period across all Markets in which the
Icon is active exceeds [*] Advertiser may terminate this Agreement by written
notice to DCI sixty days prior to the desired termination date. Advertiser will
make verified "Purchase Request" figures available to DCI prior to any
termination by Advertiser pursuant to this Section 4.3. For purposes of this
Agreement, "Purchase Request" shall mean that a user of the DCI Service has
requested a price quote online from Advertiser.

      5.  Revenue to DCI.

          5.1  Advertiser will pay to DCI according to the monthly and annual
price breakdowns for each market as set forth in Exhibits B, C, and D.

          5.2  Advertiser will make a [*] down payment of [*] for the first
amounts due in respect of this Agreement upon execution of this Agreement.

          5.3  Advertiser will be billed for new Digital City markets at the
beginning of the [*] month after the market has been activated.

      6.  Confidential Information. Each Party acknowledges that all information
disclosed pursuant to this Agreement, including the terms of this Agreement,
shall be considered confidential (collectively, "Confidential Information").
Each Party agrees that it shall take reasonable steps, at least substantially
equivalent to the steps it takes to protect its own proprietary information,
during the term of this Agreement and for a period of three years following
expiration or termination of this Agreement, to prevent the duplication or
disclosure of Confidential Information. Notwithstanding the foregoing,
Confidential Information shall not include materials or information that (i) are
already, or

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                      -3-

<PAGE>
 
otherwise become, generally known by third parties as a result of no act or
omission of the disclosing party; (ii) subsequent to disclosure hereunder are
lawfully received by the disclosing party from a third party having the right
to disseminate the information and without restriction on disclosure; (iii)
are generally furnished to others by any party without restriction on
disclosure; (iv) were already known by the disclosing party and were not
received from a third party in breach of that third party's obligations of
confidentiality; (v) are required to be disclosed by applicable law, rule or
regulation of any government or governmental agency or by court order; or (vi)
are independently developed by the disclosing party without the use of
Confidential Information.

      7.  Term.  The initial term of this Agreement is for one (1) year from
execution date of the Agreement (the "Initial Term") and shall be automatically
extended for an additional period equal to the length of the Initial Term (the
"Renewal Term") unless this Agreement has been terminated in accordance with
Section 4.3 or unless Advertiser notifies DCI in writing of its election to have
the Agreement expire at least thirty (30) days in advance of the Initial Term.

      8.  If Advertiser wishes to make any changes to the Icon, Advertiser must
request such changes in writing.  There will be one icon used for all Markets.
Advertiser may change the Icon twice per month at no cost.  Any changes must be
approved by DCI.

      9.  Advertiser represents and warrants that neither the Icon nor the
Advertising Site in any respect: (i) infringes on any copyright, trademark, U.S.
patent or any other proprietary right of any third party; (ii) violates any
applicable law or regulation; or (iii) violates the Terms of Service of AOL.

      10. Each party shall promptly inform the other party of any event or
circumstance, and shall provide such party with all relevant information,
related to the Icon and/or Advertising Site which could reasonably lead to a
claim, demand, or liability of or against such party/or its affiliates by any
third party.

      11. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHALL EITHER PARTY BE LIABLE TO THE OTHER FOR
INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, SPECIAL OR EXEMPLARY DAMAGES (EVEN IF SUCH
PARTY HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES), ARISING FROM ANY
ASPECT OF THE TRANSACTION DESCRIBED HEREIN.  NEITHER PARTY SHALL IN ANY EVENT BE
LIABLE TO THE OTHER FOR MORE THAN THE AMOUNTS PAID TO DCI BY ADVERTISER
HEREUNDER.

      12. NEITHER PARTY MAKES AND EACH PARTY HEREBY SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS ANY
REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, REGARDING THE DCI SERVICE AND
AOL OR ANY PORTION THERETO, INCLUDING ANY IMPLIED WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY OR
FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND IMPLIED WARRANTIES ARISING FROM COURSE OF
DEALING OR COURSE OF PERFORMANCE.  WITHOUT LIMITING THE GENERALITY OF THE
FOREGOING, DCI SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS ANY WARRANTY REGARDING (I) THE 

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                      -4-

<PAGE>
 
NUMBER OF PERSONS WHO WILL ACCESS THE ICON AND (II) ANY BENEFIT ADVERTISER
MIGHT OBTAIN INCLUDING THE ICON WITHIN THE DCI SERVICE.

      13. Each Party will defend, indemnify, save and hold harmless the other
party and the officers, directors, agents, affiliates, distributors, franchisees
and employees of the other party from any and all third party claims, demands,
liabilities, costs or expenses, including reasonable outside and in-house
attorneys' fees ("Liabilities"), resulting from the indemnifying party's breach
of any material obligation, duty, representation or warranty of this Agreement,
except where Liabilities result from the gross negligence or knowing and willful
misconduct of the other Party.

      14. Either party may terminate this Agreement at any time in the event of
a material breach of this Agreement by the other party.

      15. In addition, DCI shall have the right, at any time, to remove the Icon
if DCI determines, in its sole discretion, that any part of the Icon or the
Advertising Site violates the Terms of Service of AOL.  In the event that DCI
exercises its rights under this Section 15, DCI shall refund to Advertiser a pro
rata portion of the fee which Advertiser has paid to DCI for display of the
Icon.

      16. The Parties to this Agreement are independent contractors.  Neither
Party is an agent, representative, or partner of the other Party.  This
Agreement shall not be interpreted or construed to create an association,
agency, joint venture or partnership between the Parties or to impose any
liability attributable to such a relationship upon either Party.  The failure of
either Party to insist upon or enforce strict performance by the other Party of
any provision of this Agreement or to exercise any right under this Agreement
shall not be construed as a waiver or relinquishment to any extent of such
Party's right to assert or rely upon any such provision or right in that or any
other instance.  DCI reserves the right to review any press releases,
advertising materials, etc, that mention DCI or include DCI's logo.

      17. Sections 6, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 16 shall survive the completion,
expiration, termination or cancellation of this Agreement.

      18. This Agreement sets forth the entire agreement between the Parties,
and supersedes any and all prior agreements of the Parties with respect to the
transactions set forth herein.  Neither Party shall be bound by, and each Party
specifically objects to any term, condition or other provision which is
different from or in addition to the provisions of this Agreement, unless such
change, amendment or modification of any provision of this Agreement is set
forth in a subsequent written instrument duly signed by both Parties.  In the
event that any provision of this Agreement conflicts with the law under which
this Agreement is to be construed or if any such provision is held invalid by a
court with jurisdiction over the Parties, such provision shall be deemed to be
restated to reflect as nearly as possible the original intentions of the Parties
in accordance with applicable law, and the remainder of this Agreement shall
remain in full force and effect.  This Agreement shall be interpreted, construed
and enforced in all respects in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth
of Virginia except for its conflicts of laws principles.

                                      -5-

<PAGE>
 
      19. This Agreement may be executed in counterparts, each of which shall be
deemed an original and all of which together shall constitute one and the same
document.

      IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the Parties have executed this Agreement as of the
date first above written.


DIGITAL CITY, INC.                          AUTO-BY-TEL, INC.


By: /S/ RJ SMITH                            By: /S/ PETER R. ELLIS
    ---------------------------------           -------------------------------

Print Name: RJ SMITH                   Print Name: PETER R. ELLIS
            -------------------------              ----------------------------

Title: VICE-PRESIDENT/GENERAL MANAGER  Title: PRESIDENT
       ------------------------------         ---------------------------------

                                      -6-

<PAGE>
 
                                   EXHIBIT A
                           ICON AND ADVERTISING SITE
                           -------------------------

     1.   The Icon.  

The Icon may consist of the Advertiser logo or another marketing icon that is
mutually agreed upon by DCI and Advertiser. The Icon must fit the dimensions
consistent with DCI screen format.

          Placement and Rotation

          A.   Digital City -Main Screens.  

The Advertising Icon shall have placement on the Main screen of each Digital
City Market for the equivalent of [*] of the front screen views for each Market.

          B.   Digital City- Auto Screens.  

The Advertiser Icon will have permanent placement on the Front Auto screens of
Digital City for the duration of this Agreement in each participating city.

          C.   Integrated Marketing.  

The Advertiser Icon will be incorporated into a rotation that provides placement
on a variety of other screens throughout the Digital City service in each
participating city for the duration of this contract. This will include exposure
in the different sections of Digital City, headline slots, and mentions on the
Digital City welcome screens.

     2.   The Advertiser site on AOL.  

When clicked, the Advertiser Icon will link to an Advertiser page developed for
the America Online environment. The design of this page will be determined and
mutually agreed upon by the Advertiser creative staff and Digital City. This
page will be produced by Digital City and will be integrated with the Advertiser
web-site on the Internet. Additional pages must be approved by DCI. Upon mutual
agreement and under a separate contract Advertiser will also be able to
incorporate third party automotive information into the Advertising Site subject
to Advertiser paying the DCI negotiated rates for production. DCI retains all
rights to review and approve of the third party material and to distribute it's
own third party automotive content in the DCI automotive areas; provided that
any material appearing on the Advertising Site on the execution date of this
Agreement shall be deemed to be approved by DCI.

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested


<PAGE>
 
                                   EXHIBIT B

                                 COST BREAKDOWN
                                 --------------


     Digital City Los Angeles will be used as the base rate market. The rest of
     the markets are based on the pricing in Los Angeles and are proportional
     depending on AOL membership in each cities DMA.

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
 
             DIGITAL CITY                LOS ANGELES
<S>                                      <C>
Members in DMA as of June 96                 [*]
Rotation on Main Screen                      [*]
Integrated Marketing                         [*]
Auto Section Placement                       [*]
Total Without Exclusivity                    [*]
[*]% Exclusivity Premium                     [*]
Monthly Total with Exclusivity               [*]
First Year Total (Includes two free          [*]
 months)
Second Year Total with [*]% Increase        [*]
</TABLE>



[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

<PAGE>
 
                                   EXHIBIT C

                         ROLL-OUT AND PRICING SCHEDULE
                         -----------------------------

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
 
                                 AOL MEMBERS   MONTHLY PRICE   EXCLUSIVITY
     MARKET        LAUNCH DATE     IN DMA       FIRST YEAR      AVAILABLE
     ------        -----------   -----------   -------------   -----------
<S>                <C>           <C>           <C>             <C>
Washington             [*]         219,306          [*]            Yes
Boston                 [*]         229,519          [*]            Yes
Atlanta                [*]         128,642          [*]            Yes
San Francisco          [*]         307,317          [*]            Yes
Philadelphia           [*]         217,200          [*]            Yes
Los Angeles            [*]         443,497          [*]            Yes
Denver                 [*]         104,952          [*]            Yes
San Diego              [*]          83,458          [*]            Yes
Dallas                 [*]          92,814          [*]            Yes
Seattle                [*]         129,775          [*]            Yes
Detroit                [*]         119,416          [*]            Yes
Houston                [*]         102,657          [*]            Yes
Minneapolis            [*]          94,521          [*]            Yes
Tampa                  [*]          85,723          [*]            Yes
Cleveland              [*]          88,185          [*]            Yes
</TABLE>



[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

<PAGE>
 
                                   EXHIBIT D

                                CONTRACT TOTALS
                                ---------------

<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
 
                   ANNUAL PRICE
                   ------------   SECOND YEAR    OFFICIAL START DATE
                    FIRST YEAR    INCLUDES [*]    (AFFINITY BUTTON
     MARKET            [*]          INCREASE          TURNED ON)
     ------        ------------   ------------   --------------------
<S>                <C>            <C>            <C>
Washington
Boston
Atlanta
San Francisco
Philadelphia
Los Angeles
Denver
San Diego
Dallas
Seattle
Detroit
Houston
Minneapolis
Tampa
Cleveland
Total
 
</TABLE>



[*] Confidential Treatment Requested



<PAGE>
 
                                                                   EXHIBIT 10.11

                              MARKETING AGREEMENT

     This Agreement is made as of February 8, 1996, by and between Auto-By-Tel,
LLC, a California limited liability company with its principal place of business
at 2711 E. Coast Highway, Suite 203, Corona Del Mar, California 92625 (hereafter
"ABT") and Edmund Publications Corp., a New York Corporation with its principal
place of business at 300 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 2050, El Segundo, California
90245 (hereafter "Edmund's").

                                    RECITALS

     WHEREAS, ABT is in the business of providing new vehicle purchase and lease
requests and other information to dealers of new automobiles and trucks;

     WHEREAS, ABT obtains information for use by dealers of new automobiles and
trucks through Consumer inquiries on the Internet, Online services and other
sources;

     WHEREAS, Edmund's is in the business of providing Consumers information to
aid them in their purchase or lease of new automobiles and trucks;

     WHEREAS, Edmund's provides such information in print publications, on the
Internet and through other sources;

     WHEREAS, ABT and Edmund's desire to enter into an agreement whereby
Edmund's will provide marketing information to ABT.

NOW THEREFORE, in consideration of the promises and covenants contained herein,

the parties agree as follows:

A.   Definitions
     -----------

     1.   "Edmund's Site" shall mean that information and text reflected on the
Internet, and other online sources established by Edmund's for the purpose of
providing information to aid Consumers in their purchase or lease of new cars
and trucks.  Despite the use of the singular "Site", "Edmund's Site" shall refer
to all Internet and online services used by Edmund's as of the date of this
Agreement and thereafter.  However, "Edmund's Site" shall not include any
Internet or other online source established by a third party under license from
Edmund's.

     2.   "Consumer" shall mean those persons who use or otherwise obtain
information from "Edmund's Site."

     3.   "ABT Purchase Request" shall mean a request by a Consumer for
assistance with the purchase or lease of a new automobile or truck from whatever
source.

[*] Confidential Treatment has been requested for certain portions of this 
    exhibit


<PAGE>
 
EXHIBIT 10.11  MARKETING AGREEMENT DATED FEBRUARY 8, 1997 BETWEEN REGISTRANT AND
               EDMUND'S PUBLICATION CORPORATION
 
B.   Consumer Request for the Purchase or Lease of Automobiles and Trucks
     --------------------------------------------------------------------

     1.   Term of Agreement
          -----------------

          This agreement shall be deemed to have commenced on January 1, 1996
and shall expire on January 31, 1999; provided, however, that if Edmund's does
                                      -----------------
not receive from ABT in calendar year 1997 aggregate fees (including the amounts
referred to in Section C hereof and any additional amounts voluntarily paid by
ABT) of at least $500,000.  Edmund's may terminate this Agreement on not less
than 10 days' prior written notice given to ABT on or before February 28, 1998.
This Agreement may be terminated prior to such dates only (i) by Edmund's in the
event that ABT does not pay the fees due Edmund's for ABT Purchase Requests
originated by Edmund's within 30 days of the date billed for such ABT Purchase
Requests, in the event that ABT does not pay the amounts required by Section C
hereof within 60 days of ABT's receipt of such origination fees, or in the event
ABT breaches any of the other terms of this Agreement, and (ii) by ABT in the
event that Edmund's breaches any of the terms of this Agreement, or if Edmund's
terminates the "Edmund's Site." Nothing herein shall preclude Edmund's from
discontinuing the "Edmund's Site," any of its publications, or its entire
business, or shall give ABT any rights against Edmund's hereunder as a result of
any such discontinuation.

     2.   Pricing Information
          -------------------

          The "Edmund's Site" shall, so long as it is maintained by Edmund's,
reflect pricing information in the United States for the sale of automobiles and
trucks which is current and accurate.

     3.   ABT Information
          ---------------

          Edmund's shall recommend ABT on the "Edmund's Site" as a dealer-based
purchasing/leasing program for new automobiles and trucks.  This recommendation
shall be approved as to form and content by ABT, such approval not to be
unreasonably withheld.  This recommendation shall be exclusive and Edmund's
shall not recommend any dealers (sellers/lessors) of automobiles and trucks or
other marketing programs for automobiles and trucks of like nature to ABT,
except with the written consent of ABT.  (By way of example, Edmund's may
recommend or refer Consumers directly to automobile and truck manufacturers,
since manufacturers do not offer a marketing program which is "of like nature"
to ABT's marketing program.  Edmund's shall mirror ABT's Internet Form on
Edmund's Internet Site (or other like text and graphics approved by ABT).
Edmund's and ABT shall work together to develop and maintain a file transfer
process where both parties can determine whether the ABT Purchase Requests have
been originated by Edmund's.

     4.   Fees to be Paid to Edmund's
          ---------------------------

          a.   ABT shall pay Edmund's [*] for each ABT Purchase Request which is
received directly from Edmund's either from the "Edmund's Site" or otherwise. If
the total number of ABT Purchase Requests exceeds [*] in any calendar year, ABT
shall pay Edmund's [*] for each ABT Purchase Request in excess of [*] for such
year. However, for purposes of

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                      -2-

<PAGE>
 
calculating the amount of fees to be paid to Edmund's, only one ABT Purchase
Request shall be counted for any one Consumer within a [*] day period.

          b.   ABT shall pay Edmund's any fees due it pursuant to this paragraph
within 30 days of receipt of billing.

          c.   All ABT Purchase Requests and information contained therein
received from Edmund's Site shall be the sole property of ABT.

     5.   Additional Advertisements
          -------------------------

          In its print publications and CD ROM products, Edmund's shall
advertise ABT's services in a form and content approved by ABT. In these
advertisements, Edmund's shall be permitted to place Edmund's' address for the
"Edmund's Site."

C.   Financing of Automobiles
     ------------------------

     1.   Edmund's shall recommend an entity later identified by ABT for
automobile and truck financing as ABT's source of automobile and truck financing
in a form and content approved by ABT, provided that this financing program is
in full operation within 150 days of the signing of this Agreement.

     2.   ABT shall pay Edmund's [*] of the net origination fee which it
received as a result of referrals made or loans originated by Consumers from
ABT Purchase Requests received from Edmund's.

D.   Non-competition and Confidentiality
     -----------------------------------

     1.   Confidentiality
          ---------------

          Edmund's agrees to keep confidential and not disclose to any third
party, without ABT's prior written consent, any confidential or proprietary
information in its possession with respect to ABT's services. Edmund's will give
notice of such covenant to its employees and require its employees to comply
with such covenant. Such covenant shall not apply to any such information that
is or becomes generally available to third parties other than as a result of its
disclosure by Edmund's or its employees, which was available to Edmund's prior
to its disclosure to Edmund's by ABT, or which is made available to Edmund's by
a source other than ABT and its representatives. If Edmund's is requested to
produce any of such confidential or proprietary information by order of any
governmental agency, court or civil process, Edmund's may, upon less than five
days' written notice to ABT, release such information.

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                      -3-

<PAGE>
 
     2.   Non-Competition
          ---------------

          For the term of this Agreement and for two years following the
termination of this Agreement pursuant to paragraph A.1., neither Edmund's nor
its subsidiaries or affiliates or their respective directors, officers,
employees or agents shall directly engage in the business of providing new
vehicle purchase and lease requests to dealers of new automobiles and trucks.
However, following such termination of this Agreement Edmund's shall be entitled
to refer Consumers to other third parties who, like ABT, are engaged in such
business, and following such termination Edmund's shall be entitled to advertise
other automotive broker services.

     3.   Indemnification
          ---------------

          Edmund's agrees to indemnify and hold harmless ABT and its
subsidiaries and affiliates and their respective directors, members, managers,
officers, employees and agents against any and all losses, liabilities, claims,
awards, damages, judgments, settlements and costs, (including attorneys' fees
and expenses) arising out of or relating to any third party claim arising from
the negligent or wrongful acts or omissions of Edmund's, its subsidiaries and
affiliates, and their respective directors, officers, employees and agents.

          ABT agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Edmund's and its
subsidiaries and affiliates and their respective directors, officers, employees
and agents against any and all losses, liabilities, claims, awards, damages,
judgments, settlements and costs, (including attorneys' fees and expenses)
arising out of or relating to any third party claim arising from the negligent
or wrongful acts or omissions of ABT, its subsidiaries and affiliates, and their
respective directors, members, managers, officers, employees and agents. In
addition, ABT hereby assigns to Edmund's any benefits of any indemnification or
similar agreement or arrangement that ABT has received, or hereafter receives,
from third parties with whom ABT does business (such as dealers), to the extent
that such indemnification does not compromise ABT's rights of indemnification
from such third parties.

     4.   Trade Marks and Service Marks
          -----------------------------

          Any and all trade marks and service marks associated with ABT are and
shall remain the exclusive property of ABT. If during the term of this Agreement
a trade mark registration is filed by ABT, all rights belong to ABT who shall
bear the cost of such registration. Edmund's is permitted to use the trade mark
and service mark of ABT only as set forth herein or only as authorized in
writing by ABT.

E.   Miscellaneous
     -------------

     1.   Independent Parties
          -------------------

          The relationship between ABT and Edmund's is, and at all times shall
remain, solely that of independent parties, and shall not be, or construed to be
a joint venture, partnership, fiduciary, or other relationship of any nature.

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                      -4-

<PAGE>
 
     2.   Notices
          -------

          All notices and requests in connection with this Agreement shall be
given or made upon the respective parties in writing, and shall be deemed as
given of the day it is deposited in the U.S. Mail, postage prepaid, certified or
registered, return receipt requested, and addressed as designated at the top of
this Agreement, or such address as the party to receive the notice or request so
designates by written notice to the other.

     3.   Headings
          --------

          The titles and captions of the various paragraphs and sub paragraphs
of this Agreement are inserted for convenience only, and are not a part of this
Agreement, nor shall they be deemed in any manner to modify, explain, enlarge or
restrict any of the provisions of this Agreement.

     4.   Severability
          ------------

          The invalidity of any of the provisions or clauses in this Agreement
shall not affect any remaining provisions, clauses, or applications which can be
given effect without the invalid provision or clause. To this end, the
provisions, of this Agreement are declared to be severable.

     5.   Waivers
          -------

          A waiver of either party to exercise in any respect any right provided
for herein, including the termination of this Agreement, shall not be deemed a
waiver of any right hereunder.

     6.   Governing Law and Jurisdiction
          ------------------------------

          This Agreement and the performance hereunder shall be governed and
construed in accordance with the laws of the State of California.  Any dispute
or claim arising between the parties hereto, shall be brought in a court of
competent jurisdiction located in the State of California and the parties hereto
agree to jurisdiction in California.

     7.   Attorney's Fees
          ---------------

          In the event any litigation is initiated by any of the parties to
enforce any of the provisions of this Agreement, the prevailing party shall be
entitled to receive from the other party its reasonable attorney's fees incurred
in such litigation.

     8.   Entire Agreement
          ----------------

          This Agreement may be modified, amended or waived in any respect only
by a written instrument signed by all the parties hereof. This Agreement
supersedes any and all agreements, either oral or written, between the parties
and contains all of the representations, covenants, and agreements between the
parties hereto. Each party to this Agreement acknowledges that no
representations, 

                                      -5-

<PAGE>
 
inducements, promises or agreements, orally or otherwise have been made by any
party, or anyone acting on behalf of any party which are not contained in this
Agreement and that neither party enters this Agreement in reliance upon a later
agreement regarding an ABT Associated Financing Program.

     9.   Authority
          ---------

          The parties hereto have authorized the signatories identified below to
enter this Agreement on behalf of Edmund's and ABT, respectively.


EDMUND PUBLICATIONS CORP.               AUTO-BY-TEL, LLC
a New York Corporation                  a California limited liability company

By:__________________________________   By:___________________________________

Title:_______________________________   Title:________________________________

                                      -6-



<PAGE>
 
                                                                   EXHIBIT 10.12

                AUTOMOTIVE INFORMATION CENTER REFERRAL AGREEMENT

     THIS REFERRAL AGREEMENT ("Agreement") is entered into as of the 6 day of
                                                                     -       
Sept 1996, ("Effective Date") by and between  Automotive  Information  Center
- ----   --                                                                     
("AIC"), a New York General Partnership whose address is 360 Massachusetts
Avenue, Acton, MA 01720, and Auto-By-Tel Corporation ("ABT"),whose address is
2711 East Coast Highway, Suite 203, Corona Del Mar, CA, 92625.

                              W I T N E S S E T H:

     WHEREAS AIC has developed a site on the World Wide Web portion of the
Internet ("AutoSite"), a service on CompuServe ("AutoSite on CIS"), and a
service on CompuServe's WOW! ("AutoSite on WOW!") (collectively, the "Sites"),
and wishes to provide to ABT a referral service whereby users of the Sites may
submit Purchase Request Forms to ABT, in consideration of the payments described
herein.

     NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the mutual covenants set forth herein,
AIC and ABT (collectively, the "Parties") hereby agree as follows:

I.   DEFINITIONS.

     As used in this Agreement, these terms, whether in singular or plural, have
the following meanings:

     (a) "AutoSite" - AIC's World Wide Web site having the URL www.autosite.com.

     (b) "AutoSite on CIS" - AIC's vehicle information service hosted on
CompuServe Information Service.

     (c) "AutoSite on
 WOW!" - AIC's vehicle information hosted on CompuServe's
WOW! service.

     (d) "Completed Form" - An ABT Purchase Request Form available online at the
Sites  which has been filled out by a user of one of the Sites and which may
contain, at ABT's option, include an application for financing.  In order for
the form to be a Completed Form, all fields designated in advance by ABT as
mandatory fields must be completed by the a user.

     (e) "Buy It Here!" page - a promotional page, hosted at AutoSite and on
AutoSite on WOW! (but not at AutoSite on CIS) and maintained and controlled by
AIC, which will contain promotional information about ABT and links to the ABT
Purchase Request Forms and ABT Promotional Page.

     (f) "ABT promotional page" - a page hosted at AutoSite and on AutoSite on
WOW! (but not at AutoSite on CIS) which contains promotional information and/or
images about ABT, supplied to AIC by ABT. This page will have a link to the ABT
Purchase Request Form.

II.  SERVICES.

     (a) Services provided at AutoSite and at AutoSite on WOW!.

          (i) AIC agrees to list ABT on its "Buy It Here!" page at AutoSite and
at  AutoSite on WOW!, and to incorporate links to the ABT Purchase Request Form,
to be hosted at AutoSite and at AutoSite on 

[*] Confidential Treatment has been requested for portions of this exhibit.


<PAGE>
 
EXHIBIT 10.12  AUTOMOTIVE INFORMATION CENTER REFERRAL AGREEMENT
 
WOW!, on its "Buy It Here!" page. The "Buy It Here!" page will be linked to from
pages in the New Car Showroom area on AutoSite and on AutoSite on WOW!, which
may include the following:


<TABLE>
<CAPTION>
     PAGE TYPE DESCRIPTION          APPROXIMATE # OF PAGES
 <S>                                 <C>
     New Car Showroom Menu              1
     List of New Car Makers             1
     Each Car Maker's list of          55
        models
     Each  model's At-A-Glance        300
        page
     Each model's Portfolio page      300
     Each model's Base Price &        300
        Standard Engine page
     Each model's Optional            300
        Equipment page
     Each sub-model's Window          900
        Sticker page
     Each Comparison Report           each of 900 sub-models may be
                                      compared to any other of the 900

                                     sub-models
</TABLE>
 

     AIC reserves the right to change the structure and functionality of
AutoSite and of AutoSite on WOW! and the pages contained within AutoSite and
within AutoSite on WOW! at any time and at its sole discretion, but will use
best efforts to link to the "Buy It Here!" page from prominent pages on AutoSite
and on AutoSite on WOW!.  AIC shall notify ABT promptly of changes to AutoSite
or to AutoSite on WOW! on pages which promote ABT services.

          (ii) AIC agrees to incorporate an ABT promotional page at AutoSite and
on AutoSite on WOW!, with links from the "Buy It Here!" page and to/from each
ABT Purchase Request Form.

          (iii) AIC agrees to process the input from the ABT Purchase Request
Forms on AutoSite and on AutoSite on WOW! and to write such processed input to
an ASCII-format file, which shall be placed at 15-minute intervals on an FTP
site where ABT may retrieve it at its convenience.

     (b) Services provided at AutoSite on CIS.

          (i) AIC agrees to incorporate a button in its AutoSite on CIS menu
which will lead to an ABT Purchase Request Form.

          (ii) AIC agrees to include a limited amount of text, as determined by
AIC, promoting ABT in the "Buying Your Car" section in each report on AutoSite
on CIS.

          (iii) AIC agrees to exercise its best efforts to process the input
from the Purchase Request Forms on AutoSite on CIS programmatically into an
ASCII text file once each business day, and to make that file electronically
available to ABT for retrieval at its convenience. However, AIC shall not be
responsible for lack of access to said input due to circumstances beyond its
control.

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                      -2-

<PAGE>
 
          (iv) All efforts described in this Section II.(b) are subject to
approval by CompuServe.

III.  LIMITED EXCLUSIVITY.

     AIC and ABT agree that for the term of this agreement, AIC will not offer
services described in II.(a) and II.(b) to other buying services, provided
however that if AIC determines, in good faith and at its sole discretion, that
this agreement negatively impacts AIC's business, AIC may terminate this
agreement, in which case AIC agrees that it will not offer a similar referral
service to other buying services before the balance of the term.

IV.  NO FULFILLMENT OBLIGATIONS.

     AIC shall have no responsibility or obligations with respect to the
fulfillment of goods or services ordered via the Sites from or through ABT, and
all fulfillment-related tasks shall be performed by or cause to be performed by
ABT.

V.   ABT PROMOTIONAL PAGE AND PURCHASE REQUEST FORM DESIGN.

     Within ten (10) days of the execution of this Agreement, ABT shall deliver
to AIC any text and images it may wish to incorporate into its Promotional Page
and Purchase Request Form, including specifications detailing which fields on
the Purchase Request Form are mandatory. Within five (5) business days of
receiving these components, AIC will deliver to ABT for ABT's approval a sample
Promotional Page and a sample Purchase Request Form.  Upon such written
approval, AIC will complete and install these pages on AutoSite.  In addition,
AIC shall exercise its best efforts to install the Purchase Request Form on
AutoSite on CIS and on AutoSite on WOW! as quickly as is reasonably possible,
but shall not be responsible for delays beyond its control.  ABT recognizes that
AIC has no control over timing of installation of pages on AutoSite on CIS or
AutoSite on WOW!.

VI.  TERM.

     The term of this Agreement ("Initial Term") shall be for (1) one year from
the date on which the ABT Promotional Page and the ABT Purchase Request Form
have first been installed on AutoSite (the "Commencement Date"), which shall be
not later than September 15, 1996.  This Agreement shall be automatically
renewed for up to (2) two further one-year periods ("Renewal Periods") without
further notice unless the Agreement is terminated by written notice from either
party to the other at at least (60) sixty days prior to the end of the then-
current Initial Term or Renewal Period.

VII.  FEES.

     In consideration of the above, ABT agrees to pay AIC its stated Marketing
Fee and a Purchase Referral Fee as defined in the attached and hereby
incorporated Automotive Information Center Referral Rate Card.

     (a) The Marketing Fee will be due on the first of each month, in advance,
for the month to come.

     (b)  The Purchase Referral Fee for Completed Forms will be due on the
fifteenth of each month for referrals from the prior month.  AIC will send ABT a
statement in the first week of each month detailing the number of Completed
Forms processed by AIC on behalf of ABT during the prior month and the amount
owed for such Completed Forms.  AIC shall maintain adequate records of Completed
Forms to verify billings for a period of not less than one year after the term
of this Agreement.  Any failure by AIC to submit statements to

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                      -3-

<PAGE>
 
ABT, or the late submittal of such statements, shall not be construed as a
waiver of any obligation of ABT to pay Purchase Referral Fees to AIC.

VIII.  LIMITED WARRANTY.

     AIC does not warrant and specifically disclaims any representations that
the Sites or the Services will be uninterrupted or error-free. If AIC has prior
knowledge of planned interruptions of service on any of the Sites it will use
reasonable best efforts to notify ABT of such interruptions. AIC represents and
warrants, subject to II.b.4., that (i) it has power, authority and authorization
to enter into this agreement and perform its obligations hereunder and that the
person executing this Agreement on behalf of AIC is empowered to do so, (ii)
neither the execution of this Agreement nor the performance of AIC's obligations
hereunder conflict with any other agreement to which AIC is a party, including
any agreements pertaining or related to the Sites. ABT represents and warrants
that (i) it has power, authority and authorization to enter into this agreement
and perform its obligations hereunder and that the person executing this
Agreement on behalf of ABT is empowered to do so, (ii) neither the execution of
this Agreement nor the performance of ABT's obligations hereunder conflict with
any other agreement to which ABT is a party. Nothing contained herein shall be
construed to mean that AIC is responsible in any way for the contents of ABT's
Purchase Request Form or any promotional text concerning ABT. ABT is entirely
responsible for such contents and all obligations with respect to ABT's
customers or potential customers. ABT agrees that it shall include any and all
proprietary notices of third parties in materials supplied to AIC. EXCEPT AS
EXPRESSLY SET FORTH IN THIS PARAGRAPH, AIC DISCLAIMS ALL OTHER EXPRESS
WARRANTIES AND ALL WARRANTIES, DUTIES AND OBLIGATIONS IMPLIED IN LAW, INCLUDING,
BUT NOT LIMITED TO, IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A
PARTICULAR PURPOSE. AIC'S LIMITED WARRANTY SET FORTH HEREIN IS IN LIEU OF ALL
LIABILITIES OR OBLIGATIONS OF AIC FOR DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION
WITH THE SITES OR THE SERVICES.

IX.  LIMITATION OF LIABILITY.

     AIC WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE TO ABT OR ANY THIRD PARTIES UNDER ANY
CIRCUMSTANCES FOR ANY INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, SPECIAL PUNITIVE, OR
EXEMPLARY DAMAGES OR LOSSES WHICH ABT MAY INCUR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SERVICES
OR OTHERWISE REGARDLESS OF THE TYPE OF CLAIM OR THE NATURE OF THE CAUSE OF
ACTION, EVEN IF AIC HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE OR LOSS.
IN NO EVENT SHALL AIC'S LIABILITY FOR DIRECT DAMAGES INCURRED IN ANY TERM FOR
ANY REASON AND UPON ANY CAUSE OF ACTION ARISING FROM OR RELATING TO THE
AGREEMENT OR THE SUBJECT MATTER HEREOF EXCEED THE FEES PAID TO AIC BY ABT
HEREUNDER IN SAID TERM IN WHICH THE DAMAGES ARE INCURRED.

X.   CONFIDENTIALITY.

     AIC covenants and agrees that it will not disclose the identities or
addresses of persons who complete ABT's Purchase Request Form with the Sites to
any third party, or use such information for AIC's own purposes, provided,
however, that AIC reserves the right to disclose general information regarding
numbers of hits and demographics of persons accessing the Sites or any portion
thereof.

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                      -4-

<PAGE>
 
XI.  PROPRIETARY RIGHTS: INDEMNIFICATION

     ABT agrees and acknowledges that AIC and its suppliers own all rights,
title and interest in and to the Sites, subject solely to ABT's rights in and to
the information and content supplied to AIC by ABT hereunder. Nothing in this
Agreement or otherwise shall be construed to convey to ABT any interest
whatsoever in the Sites, including, without limitation, any HTML, JAVA, CGI
programs, or any other custom programs or scripts developed hereunder.  ABT
represents and warrants to AIC that ABT owns or otherwise has the right to
convey to AIC the information and content provided to AIC and that such
information and content does not infringe intellectual property rights of any
third party.  ABT represents and warrants that it has obtained, and currently
has, any and all grants of rights from third parties which may be required to
display text, graphics or other materials in its Promotional Page and its
Purchase Request Form as specified by ABT.  ABT represents and warrants that it
has set forth or described in the Agreement any and all requirements of ABT's
suppliers, if any, including, without limitation, ABT's obligations set forth in
Section IV, with respect to content and form of materials to be used in any ABT
Promotional Page and ABT Purchase Request Form, including, without limitation,
any requirements with respect to intellectual property rights and/or notices.
AIC reserves the right not to exhibit on the Sites any image or text for which
AIC determines inadequate information has been provided. ABT agrees to defend
and indemnify and hold harmless AIC and its owners, proprietors, officers,
shareholders, directors, employees, affiliates and subsidiaries from and against
any and all claims, proceedings, damages, injuries, liability, losses, costs and
expenses (including, without limitation, reasonable attorneys' fees) arising out
of or relating to any acts by ABT undertaken in connection with the Sites,
including, without limitation, those arising out of or related to any breach of
any ABT warranty, or any ABT Promotional Page or ABT Purchase Request Form, or
information or content which ABT supplies to AIC hereunder.  ABT hereby grants
to AIC a non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable license to incorporate the
information and content provided by ABT to AIC into the Sites.

XII.  OPERATION OF THE SITES.

     AIC shall have sole discretion to determine all aspects of the operation of
the Sites, and, except where otherwise expressly provided in this Agreement in
Section V, all matters relating to the content, structure, and sequence of
material appearing in the Sites, including, but not limited to, the navigational
and functional standards for the Sites.  AIC shall have the right, at its
discretion at any time, to reject, exclude, or remove from the Sites any
material which in its reasonable judgement is objectionable, obscene, or
defamatory.

XIII.  SEVERABILITY.

     In the event that any provision of this Agreement becomes or is declared by
a court of competent jurisdiction to be illegal, unenforceable or void, then
this Agreement shall continue in full force and effect without said provision;
provided, however, that no such severability shall be effective if it materially
changes the economic benefit of this Agreement to any party.

XIV.  GENERAL.

     (a) This Agreement shall be governed by and construed and enforced in
accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and ABT hereby
agrees to the jurisdiction of its courts.

     (b) The section headings contained herein are for reference purposes only,
and shall not in any way affect the meaning or interpretation of this Agreement.

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                      -5-

<PAGE>
 
     (c) This Agreement sets forth the entire agreement and understanding of the
parties hereto concerning the subject matter hereof, and supersedes all prior
agreements, arrangements, and understandings between the parties hereto.

     IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties have executed this Agreement as of the date
first written above.

Automotive Information Center                 Auto-By-Tel

By:  /s/ WAYNE R. LILLEY                      By:   /s/ PETE ELLIS
     --------------------------                  ---------------------------

Name: Wayne R. Lilley                         Name: Pete Ellis

Title: Chief Executive Officer                Title:
                                                    ------------------------

                                              Federal Tax ID:
                                                             ---------------

                                      -6-

<PAGE>
 
                  Automotive Information Center Referral Rates

I.   PURCHASE REFERRAL FEE.

     The rate stated below (the "Purchase Referral Fee") applies to each
Completed Form (including, at ABT's option, application for financing), as
defined in the Automotive Information Center Referral Agreement submitted by any
user who has not submitted a prior Completed Form to ABT on one of the Sites
within 60 days. AIC reserves the right to make determinations on whether a user
is or is not the same user who may have submitted a prior form to ABT on one of
the Sites.

     Rate per Completed Form: [*]

II.  MARKETING FEE.

     ABT agrees to pay AIC a general marketing fee ("Marketing Fee") of [*] per
     month for new vehicle related referrals. This Marketing Fee does not cover
     used-vehicle referrals, for which another marketing fee may be added in the
     future.

     
[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                      -7-
     



<PAGE>
 
                                                                   EXHIBIT 10.16
                                                                  EXECUTION COPY
                                                                  --------------



                      FINANCING INQUIRY REFERRAL AGREEMENT


        This FINANCING INQUIRY REFERRAL AGREEMENT ("Agreement"), dated as of
October 25, 1996, between Chase Manhattan Automotive Finance Corporation, a
Delaware corporation ("CAF"), with its principal place of business at 900
Stewart Avenue, Garden City, New York 11530, on the one hand, and Auto-By-Tel
Acceptance Corporation ("ABTAC"), a Delaware corporation, with its principal
place of business at 18722 MacArthur Blvd., Irvine, CA 92612 and Auto-By-Tel,
Inc. ("ABT"), a Delaware corporation, located at 18722 MacArthur Blvd., Irvine,
CA 92612, as guarantor of the obligations of ABTAC under this Agreement, (in
such capacity, the "Guarantor").

                              W I T N E S S E T H

        WHEREAS, ABTAC is in the business of, among other things identifying
persons interested in arranging financing for the purchase or lease of new and
used Vehicles and trucks ("Vehicles") who visit the ABT Internet website and
purchase a new Vehicle ("Customers") and CAF and Chase Manhattan Bank U.S.A.,
N.A. (hereinafter referred to collectively in the singular as "CAF") is in the
business of extending financing to certain persons for the purchase and lease of
Vehicles; and

        WHEREAS, ABTAC desires to refer such Customers to CAF, and CAF
 desires
to purchase from Dealers (as defined herein) retail installment sale contracts
originated by such Dealers to finance the purchase of new motor Vehicles only
(excluding recreational vehicles) (such transactions, "RFTs") and to pay
marketing fees in connection with RFTs purchased by CAF as a result of ABTAC's
referrals;

        NOW THEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing premises, and for other
good and valuable consideration the receipt and sufficiency of which is hereby
acknowledged, and intending to be legally bound, ABTAC and CAF agree as follows:


SECTION 1.   FINANCING PROGRAM

             (a)   ABTAC shall cause to be included on the ABT Website an
application for credit containing requests for the information designated by CAF
as set forth on Exhibit A hereto (the "Application"). The Application shall
request the information specified by CAF and shall be in a form reasonably
satisfactory to CAF. CAF may request changes from time to time in the
information solicited by the Application and, provided the requests are made 

[*] Confidential Treatment has been requested for certain portions of this 
    exhibit.


<PAGE>
 
in writing and with reasonable notice, ABTAC shall use its best efforts to
promptly accommodate such requests; provided, however, that CAF shall use its
                                    --------  -------
best efforts not to request changes to the information requested by, or form of,
the Application (unless such changes are required by law) more often than once
in any three-month period; provided, further, if such changes are required by
                           --------  -------
law, and CAF gives ABTAC 30 days notice, ABTAC shall honor such requested change
within such thirty (30) day period.

          (b)   Unless it already has done so, CAF will enter into its standard
dealer agreement ("Closing Agreement") with each seller of Vehicles in the
United States and the District of Columbia (the "Territory") who has executed an
on-line purchase referral agreement with ABT (each, a "Dealer," and together the
"Dealers"). The Closing Agreement shall contain customary terms no less
favorable to the Dealers than CAF's customary agreements in use with its other
financing programs and shall govern the terms upon which the Dealer and CAF will
close vehicle financing transactions referred through this Agreement. Upon
execution of a Closing Agreement, CAF shall assign such Dealer an identifying
number (the "Dealer ID") and inform ABTAC of such number. CAF may terminate its
relationship with any Dealer at any time for any reason, subject to the terms
and conditions of its Closing Agreement with such Dealer. CAF shall notify ABT
if it terminates any such Dealer under the provisions of its Closing Agreement
with such Dealer. Notwithstanding the foregoing, CAF shall not be obligated to
enter into a Closing Agreement or otherwise do business with any Dealer which
CAF has determined it will not do any business.

          (c)   Except as specified to the contrary in this Agreement, ABTAC (i)
shall not be a party to, (ii) shall not have any obligations with respect to,
and (iii) shall be held harmless by each Dealer and CAF with respect to any
losses or liabilities arising from or in connection with, the Closing
Agreements. If for any reason the Closing Agreement between a Dealer and CAF is
terminated, then CAF shall be under no obligation to approve any Application
received from Customers of such Dealer.

          (d)   CAF agrees to offer a buy-rate for each approved Customer credit
application at terms no less favorable than those offered to the applicable
Dealer by CAF. For each Customer credit application approved, CAF agrees to
inform ABTAC of the buy-rate offered to the applicable Dealer for RFTs. On a
monthly basis, the buy rate for RFTs purchased from Dealers by CAF that month
shall average no higher than [*] (the "Base Range"). CAF may, upon 90 days
written notice (a "Base Range Notice") to ABTAC, raise the Base Range.

                Subject to the ability of CAF to handle the systems issues
involved, as reasonably determined by CAF, and pursuant to a methodology to be
agreed upon by CAF and ABTAC, from time to time, upon ten (10) business days
written request from ABTAC, CAF shall raise the buy rate offered on RFTs, up to
a limit [*] over the life of the term of this Agreement, which raise shall be
paid to ABTAC in the form of an increase in the fees paid to ABTAC by CAF
pursuant to Section 6. Such increase in fees shall be determined by reference to
the present value of such rate raise determined in accordance with the

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                       2

<PAGE>
 
assumptions employed by CAF for its valuation of excess spread on the portion of
the excess spread CAF retains on such loan.

          (e)   For so long as the "Exclusivity Conditions" (as defined below)
are met, CAF shall not enter into any agreement or arrangement similar to this
Agreement with any other Internet automobile buying, purchase assistance, or
automotive pricing information program or service, whereby the Internet program
or service provider receives or solicits credit information from its customers
to finance the purchase of new motor vehicles only (excluding recreational
vehicles), forwards that information for credit review to CAF and CAF purchases
that customer's retail installment sales contract originated by an automobile
dealer that has executed an on-line purchase or financing referral agreement or
similar agreement with the Internet program or service provider; provided,
                                                                 --------
however, that (i) CAF's rights to and/or use of IBM's Auto Loan Exchange System
- -------
for indirect dealer financing shall not violate the provisions of this Section
1(e); and (ii) CAF, any affiliate of CAF or any person controlled by or under
common control with CAF may, after the date hereof, acquire control (through
merger, acquisition, consolidation or purchase of all or substantially all of
the assets) of any corporation or other entity (other than a corporation or
entity which has as its primary line of business services substantially similar
to ABT and ABTAC) which at the time of such acquisition is engaged in a business
or service substantially similar to that contemplated by this Agreement, so that
such corporation or entity (including the surviving or continuing entity in any
acquisition effective on a merger, consolidation or purchase of assets) shall
not violate the provisions of this Section 1(e). CAF shall not use or
participate in the use of the ABTAC Marks (as defined in Schedule 2) in
conjunction with the offering or making of any automobile finance product or
product related thereto on the Internet.

        For purposes of this Agreement, the term "Exclusivity Conditions" shall
mean the occurrence of the following two conditions:

        (i)   ABTAC forwards to CAF not less than 51% of the Applications for
              RFTs ABTAC receives from Customers who qualify for financing from
              or through ABTAC within the Base Range; and

        (ii)  Of the Applications received by CAF from ABTAC, not less than 30%
              result in an RFT purchased from a Dealer.

        (f)   From time to time, ABTAC shall forward to CAF Applications
received from Customers. CAF shall review each forwarded Application and, if
such Application does not represent a credit which CAF will approve within the
Base Range, CAF shall so inform ABTAC and ABTAC may forward such Application to
another financing source.

        (g)   ABTAC will be responsible for informing Dealers of the nature of
CAF's financing program. ABTAC will provide CAF with a list of the Dealers with
addresses 

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                       3


<PAGE>
 
so that CAF may forward Closing Agreements to them for signature. CAF shall
provide ABTAC with a copy of the form of Closing Agreement.

          (h)   ABTAC shall comply at all times with the provisions of the
federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act as well
as the so-called "fair lending" laws, in each case pertaining to the performance
of its obligations under this Agreement: including but not limited to the
following:

                {A}  ABTAC will not submit any Application or credit information
          to CAF with respect to applicants if ABTAC has any knowledge that such
          Application, credit information or applicant is fraudulent, or that
          the Application or credit information contains information which ABTAC
          knows is untrue; and

                {B}  ABTAC will, on its Website, advise each applicant that
          his/her Application may be submitted to Chase Manhattan Bank USA,
          N.A., 802 Delaware Avenue, Wilmington DE 19801, or such other address
          as CAF may specify from time to time.

SECTION 2.   RECEIPT AND TRANSMISSION OF APPLICANT INFORMATION

          (a)   Subject to the provisions of Section 1 (f), ABTAC will transmit
each completed Application to CAF by telephone, telefax, e-mail, or other
electronic or agreed upon means. When transmitting an Application to CAF, ABTAC
will also designate the Dealer that is to be notified of the credit decision.

          (b)   ABTAC will not use any such information in any manner which
violates applicable law in effect from time to time.

SECTION 3.   UNDERWRITING

          (a)   Upon receipt, CAF will review each Application in accordance
with its underwriting criteria in effect from time to time. ABTAC acknowledges
that CAF has sole discretion in determining whether or not to approve an
Application, which discretion CAF agrees to exercise in a manner consistent with
its company-wide or market-wide underwriting procedures, as the case may be. CAF
shall inform ABTAC whether an Applicant has been approved, conditionally
approved or denied, but shall not reveal the reasons it has denied any
Application.

          (b)   CAF will complete its review of no less than 50% of the
Applications within the two (2) business hours after electronic receipt of the
Application and a further 80% of the Applications within four (4) business hours
of such time. Compliance with these performance standards shall be measured on a
monthly basis. If CAF fails to comply with

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                       4

<PAGE>
 
these performance standards, ABTAC's sole remedy shall be to terminate this
Agreement pursuant to Section 9(b). CAF's business hours will be 8:00 a.m. to
9:00 p.m. Eastern Time, each day of the year, except for those days banks
located in New York are required to close. Subject to the mutual agreement of
the parties, the parties shall review the foregoing business hours and expand
same if justified economically by business volume.

            (c)   CAF reserves the sole right and power to change the
Underwriting Criteria in accordance with sound lending practices consistent with
CAF's normal business practices and subject to applicable law, and further to
suspend, restrict or modify the purchase of RFTs from Dealers in any portion of
the Territory for any reason. CAF shall provide ABTAC with advance written
notice, given as early as practicable, of any actions under this clause (c) it
plans to implement. Any such actions shall be taken in good faith and only if
consistent with actions taken by CAF on a company-wide basis.


SECTION 4.  COMMUNICATION OF CREDIT DECISIONS

            At the completion of underwriting, subject to the time-frames set
forth in Paragraph 3(b) of this Agreement, CAF will notify ABTAC, [via E-MAIL]
or such other method as agreed upon by the parties from time to time, of CAF's
credit decision, and ABTAC shall use its best efforts to promptly notify the
Dealer and the Applicant on behalf of the Dealer and CAF of CAF's credit
decision, and in any event shall notify no less than 80% of such Dealers and
Applicants within two business hours. If CAF declines a request for credit, CAF
will send to the Applicant any and all notices required pursuant to federal or
applicable state law or regulation including, but not limited to, those required
under the federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Federal Reserve Regulation B.
CAF shall not provide Applications received from ABTAC which do not result in an
RFT purchase from a Dealer to any other financing source, including without
limitation, ProCredit Corp.

SECTION 5.  CLOSING AND FUNDING

            CAF and the Dealer shall use its best efforts to close approved
financing within 24 business hours after receipt from the Dealer of all properly
completed and required documentation pursuant to the terms of the Closing
Agreements. CAF will remit the proceeds of each purchased RFT to the related
Dealer in a timely manner.

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                       5

<PAGE>
 
SECTION 6.  COMPENSATION

            (a)  During the term of this Agreement, CAF shall pay ABTAC a
service fee, in the amounts determined by reference to Exhibit A, and during the
term of this Agreement, CAF shall pay to each Dealer a service fee, in the
amounts determined by reference to Exhibit A and further subject to the terms of
the Closing Agreement for each RFT purchased under the terms of this Agreement.
The payment to ABTAC shall be made on the business day following any funding and
the payment to Dealer shall be made in accordance with the terms of the
applicable Closing Agreement. Dealer may markup CAF's buy rate, up to a maximum
of [*] subject to the terms of the Closing Agreement and any applicable
agreement between the Dealer and ABTAC, which shall be provided to CAF. Dealers
will earn reserves in accordance with CAF's standard practices in connection
with any such mark up, subject to the terms of the Closing Agreement.

            (b)  ABTAC may appoint public accountants of its choice no more than
once during any 12 month period, and at its sole expense, for the purpose of
auditing CAF's compliance with the compensation provisions specified in Section
6 of this Agreement and CAF agrees to grant such accountants access, during
normal business hours and upon reasonable notice, to all records necessary to
determine the compliance of CAF with the compensation provisions of Section 6 of
this Agreement. If the results of such audit reveal a discrepancy between the
amounts paid by CAF hereunder and the amounts which should have been paid
hereunder, then the appropriate payments shall be made (i) if to ABTAC,
immediately, and (ii) if to CAF, by the withholding of [*] of such amount from
the payments to be made to ABTAC over the succeeding six months with any balance
due hereunder payable on the 180th day notwithstanding any termination of this
Agreement. If the discrepancy is in ABTAC's favor and exceeds [*] then CAF shall
reimburse ABTAC for the full cost of the audit.


SECTION 7.  REPORTS

            (a)  Each business day, via facsimile or such other method as agreed
upon by the parties from time to time, CAF will send to ABTAC a report
identifying each RFT to an Applicant, sorted by Dealer ID, that was purchased
from a Dealer on the preceding day (or, in the case of a report submitted on a
Monday, each RFT purchased from a Dealer on each of the three preceding days).

            (b)  On or before the 10th day of each month, via facsimile or such
other method as agreed upon by the parties from time to time, CAF will send to
ABTAC a report, sorted by Dealer ID, outlining for the preceding month (i) the
number of Applications received from ABTAC, (ii) the number of Applications that
were approved, (iii) the number of Applications that were denied, (iv) the
number of Applications pending at month-end, and (v) the average processing time
for Applications, and the amount financed under each RFT. In the case of the
information set forth in clauses (i), (ii) and (iii) of the preceding sentence,

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                       6

<PAGE>
 
the report shall identify each Application by name of applicant. CAF shall
include with such report, a report indicating any Dealers which executed a
Closing Agreement and any Closing Agreements which terminated.

            (c)  On or before the 10th day of each month, via facsimile or such
other method as agreed upon by the parties from time to time, CAF will send to
ABTAC a report on the performance of RFTs purchased from Dealer detailing, for
each month this Agreement shall have been in effect, the number and aggregate
outstanding balance of (i) RFTs purchased during the month, (ii) RFTs in a
current status, (iii) RFTs more than 30 but less than 60 days delinquent, (iv)
RFTs more than 60 but less than 90 days delinquent, and (v) RFTs more than 90
days delinquent, (vi) repossessions and repossession ratio, (vii) gross and net
charge-offs and loss ratios. This monthly report will be provided on an overall
portfolio basis with respect to RFTs purchased from Dealers.

            (d)  ABTAC agrees to maintain complete and accurate books and
records and procedures concerning the taking and referral of Applications and
credit information and compliance with all applicable law. Throughout the term
of this Agreement, and for a period of twenty five (25) months after the
termination of this Agreement, CAF, its duly authorized agents, representatives
or employees or federal or state agencies having jurisdiction over CAF, may from
time to time, upon reasonable notice and during normal business hours, inspect
such books, records and procedures to ensure compliance with ABTAC's obligations
concerning the taking and referral of Applications and credit information under
this Agreement and compliance with all applicable law.

            (e)  On or before the 10th day of each month, via facsimile or such
other method as agreed upon by the partners from time to time, ABTAC will send
to CAF a report specifying for the preceding month, the number of Applications
for RFTs ABTAC receives from customers who qualified that month for financing
from or through ABTAC within the Base Range.


SECTION 8.  INDEMNIFICATION

            (a)  ABTAC shall defend, indemnify and hold harmless CAF and its
affiliates and all of its and their officers, directors, owners, agents,
attorneys, and employees, from and against any and all loss, liability, claims,
counterclaims, damage, cost or expense (including reasonable attorney's fees and
costs), whether asserted in a judicial or administrative proceeding, arising out
of either (i) a breach of the representations and warranties of ABTAC designated
on Schedule 2 as items A(1), A(2), A(3), A(4), A(6) or A(7); (ii) a breach of 
the provisions of Section 1(h); (iii) the receipt of a Customer's Application 
information by any person or entity other than CAF or another entity that has a 
business relationship with ABTAC and a permissible purpose to receive such 
information, by hacking or by any other authorized or unauthorized method, 
unless such person or entity obtained or received such information directly or 
indirectly from CAF; or (iv) any gross negligence or intentional misconduct of 
ABTAC in connection with ABTAC's performance of its obligations under this 
Agreement.

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                       7

<PAGE>
 
[*]

            (b)  CAF shall defend, indemnify and hold harmless ABTAC and its
affiliates and all of its and their officers, directors, owners, agents,
attorneys, and employees, from and against any and all loss, liability, claims,
counterclaims, damage, cost or expense (including reasonable attorney's fees and
costs), whether asserted in a judicial or administrative proceeding, arising out
of either (i) a breach of the representations and warranties of CAF designated 
on Schedule 2 as items B(1), B(2), B(3), B(4), B(6) or B(7); or (ii) any gross 
negligence or intentional misconduct of CAF in connection with CAF's performance
of its obligations under this Agreement.

            (c)  Promptly after the receipt by either party hereto of notice of
any claim, action, suit or proceeding of any third party which is subject to
indemnification hereunder, such party (the "Indemnified Party") shall give
written notice of such claim to the party obligated to provide indemnification
hereunder (the "Indemnifying Party"), stating the nature and basis of such claim
and the amount thereof, to the extent known. Failure of the Indemnified Party to
give such notice shall not relieve the Indemnifying Party from any liability
which it may have on account of this indemnification or otherwise, except to the
extent that the Indemnifying Party is materially and adversely prejudiced
thereby. The Indemnifying Party shall be entitled to participate in the defense
of and, if it so chooses, to assume the defense of, or otherwise contest, such
claim, action, suit or proceeding with counsel selected by the Indemnifying
Party and reasonably satisfactory to the Indemnified Party. Upon the election by
the Indemnifying Party to assume the defense of, or otherwise contest, such
claim, action, suit or proceeding, the Indemnifying Party shall not be liable
for any legal or other expenses subsequently incurred by the Indemnified Party
in connection with the defense thereof. although the Indemnified Party shall
have the right to participate in the defense thereof and to employ counsel, at
its own expense, separate from the counsel employed by the Indemnifying Party.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Indemnifying Party shall be liable for the
fees and expenses of counsel employed by the Indemnified Party, if, and only to
the extent that (i) the Indemnifying Party has not employed counsel or counsel
reasonably acceptable to the Indemnified Party to assume the defense of action
within a reasonable time after receiving notice of the commencement of the
action, (ii) the employment of counsel and the amount reimbursable therefor by
the Indemnified Party has been authorized in writing by the Indemnifying Party
or (iii) representation of the Indemnifying Party and the Indemnified Party by
the same counsel would, in the opinion of such counsel, constitute a conflict of
interest (in which case the Indemnifying Party will not have the right to direct
the defense of such action on behalf of the Indemnified Party). The parties
shall use commercially reasonable efforts to minimize Losses from claims by
third parties and shall act in good faith in responding to, defending against,
settling or otherwise dealing with such claims, notwithstanding any dispute as
to liability as between the parties under this Article 9. The parties shall also
cooperate in any such defense, give each other full access to all information
relevant thereto and make employees and other representatives available on a
mutually convenient basis to provide additional information and explanation of
any material provided 

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                       8


<PAGE>
 
hereunder. Whether or not the Indemnifying Party shall have assumed the defense,
the Indemnifying Party shall not be obligated to indemnify the other party
hereunder for any settlement entered into without the Indemnifying Party's prior
written consent, which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld. The
Indemnifying Party shall not compromise or settle any claim, action, suit or
proceeding, without the consent of the Indemnified Party (which consent shall
not be unreasonably withheld) unless the terms of such settlement or compromise
release the Indemnified Party from any and all liability with respect to such
claim, action, suit or proceeding.


SECTION 9.  TERM AND TERMINATION

            (a) This Agreement shall remain in effect for a period of three (3) 
years from the date hereof unless terminated by either party upon one hundred 
eighty (180) days prior written notice.  This Agreement shall also terminate if
required by governmental authority or court of law, but only insofar as this
Agreement applies to such jurisdiction affected.

            (b)  If any party shall be in breach of any material obligation
under this Agreement and such breach shall remain uncured for a period of thirty
(30) days after written notice thereof from the other party (or, if such breach
is curable and requires more than thirty (30) days to cure, if such cure is not
commenced within thirty (30) days and thereafter diligently prosecuted), then
the other party may, by written notice sent, terminate this Agreement upon 30
days after delivery of such notice. Non-payment of amounts due under this
Agreement shall be deemed to be a breach of a material obligation hereunder, but
institution of suit for payment of amounts due under this Agreement shall not be
deemed to be an automatic termination hereunder. Notwithstanding anything in
this Agreement to the contrary, either party has the right to terminate this
Agreement immediately, upon written notice to the other party, if the other
party's breach of any material obligation of this Agreement causes the non-
breaching party to be in violation of any applicable law, rule, regulation or
order.

            (c)  ABTAC may terminate this Agreement on thirty (30) business days
notice at any time between the receipt of a Base Range Notice and the date
specified in such notice for the increase in the Base Range.

            (d)  Notwithstanding paragraph 9(a) above, CAF may terminate this
Agreement on thirty (30) days written notice if, on the first business day of
any calendar month, the Exclusivity Conditions have not been met during the most
recently completed six (6) month period, measured on a weighted average basis.
For any six month period, CAF's right under this Section 9(d) shall expire on
the fifteenth day of the month following the end of such period, but shall have
no effect on any right CAF may have to terminate under any other provision of
this Agreement.

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

                                       9

<PAGE>
 
            (e)  At any party's option, and upon written notice of exercise of
the option, this Agreement shall terminate upon the voluntary or involuntary
bankruptcy or insolvency of a party, the voluntary or involuntary dissolution or
liquidation of a party, the admission in writing by a party of its inability to
pay its debts as they mature, or the assignment by a party for the benefit of
creditors.


SECTION 10. NOTICES

            All notices or transmissions pursuant to this Agreement, unless
otherwise specified, shall be by facsimile transmission, by personal delivery,
or by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the addresses
of the parties listed on Schedule 1 hereto, or such other address as any party
listed below shall specify in writing to the others in a notice conforming to
this Section.


SECTION 11. GUARANTEE

            The Guarantor hereby unconditionally and irrevocably guarantees to
CAF, its successors, endorsees and assigns, the performance when due of all
present and future obligations and liabilities of all kinds of ABTAC arising out
of or in connection with the Agreement, whether due or to become due, secured or
unsecured, absolute or contingent, joint or several ("Obligations"). The
Guarantor agrees that CAF and ABTAC may mutually agree to modify the Obligations
or any agreement between CAF and ABTAC without in any way impairing or affecting
this Guarantee. The Guarantor agrees that the liability hereunder will not be
affected by any settlement, extension, renewal, or modification of this
Agreement or by the discharge or release of the Obligations of ABTAC, whether by
operation of law or otherwise. The Guarantor agrees to also be liable for all
fees and costs, including reasonable attorney's fees, incurred by CAF in
enforcing the terms of this guarantee.


SECTION 12. REPRESENTATIONS, GENERAL

            The representations and warranties set forth on Schedule 2 to this
Agreement and the provisions of general application set forth on Schedule 3 to
this Agreement are incorporated herein by reference and shall have the same
force and effect as if set forth herein in their entirety.

                                       10

<PAGE>
 
            IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties have caused this Agreement to be
executed by their duly authorized officer on the date first above written.


CHASE MANHATTAN AUTOMOTIVE FINANCE CORPORATION


By: /S/ JAMES B. BREW
    ----------------------------------------------

Title:


AUTO-BY-TEL ACCEPTANCE CORPORATION


By:  /S/ W. RANDOLPH ELLSPERMANN
     -----------------------------------------

Title: CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
       --------------------------------


AUTO BY-TEL, INC., as Guarantor


By: /S/ PETER R. ELLIS
    -----------------------------------------------

Title:  /S/ PRESIDENT
        ---------------------------------------------

                                       11

<PAGE>
 
                                   EXHIBIT A

                                       TO

                     FINANCING INQUIRY REFERRAL AGREEMENT,
                     DATED AS OF OCTOBER 25, 1996, BETWEEN
                CHASE MANHATTAN AUTOMOTIVE FINANCE CORPORATION,
                     AND AUTO-BY-TEL ACCEPTANCE CORPORATION
             AND AUTO-BY-TEL, INC., AS GUARANTOR (THE "AGREEMENT")

                             COMPENSATION SCHEDULE

Capitalized terms used in this Exhibit and not defined herein shall have the
meanings ascribed thereto in the Agreement.

The following compensation shall be paid for each financing contract (RFT or
lease) funded pursuant to the Agreement:


                                 Fee to ABTAC
                                 ------------

<TABLE> 
<CAPTION>           
             =================================================
                   Amount Financed          Flat Fee
                   ---------------          --------
             -------------------------------------------------
             <S>                            <C> 
                       [*]                      [*]
                       [*]                      [*]
                       [*]                      [*]
                       [*]                      [*]

             =================================================
</TABLE>
 

                                 Fee to Dealer
                                 -------------

<TABLE> 
<CAPTION> 
             =================================================
                   Amount Financed          Flat Fee
                   ---------------          --------
             -------------------------------------------------
             <S>                            <C> 
                        [*]                     [*]
                        [*]                     [*]
                        [*]                     [*]
                        [*]                     [*]

             =================================================
</TABLE>
 

Contracts or title documents which have to be returned to the Dealer for the 
correction of errors and omissions will not require payment, and will not be 
funded, until corrected
[*] Confidential Treatment Requested

<PAGE>
 
documents are received and accepted by CAF.  All amounts paid to Dealer shall be
subject to the terms of the Closing Agreements.

                            Exhibit A - Page 2 of 1

<PAGE>
 
                                   SCHEDULE 1

                                       TO

                     FINANCING INQUIRY REFERRAL AGREEMENT,
                     DATED AS OF OCTOBER 25, 1996, BETWEEN
                CHASE MANHATTAN AUTOMOTIVE FINANCE CORPORATION,
                     AND AUTO-BY-TEL ACCEPTANCE CORPORATION
             AND AUTO-BY-TEL, INC., AS GUARANTOR (THE "AGREEMENT")

                                    NOTICES

                    Capitalized terms used in this Schedule
                 and not defined herein shall have the meanings
                       ascribed thereto in the Agreement.

   If to CAF:
                   Chase Manhattan Automotive Finance Corporation
                   900 Stewart Avenue
                   Garden City, New York  11530
                   Attention:  Anthony Langan,
                                Marketing Executive,
                                or his successor


   If to ABTAC:    AUTO-BY-TEL ACCEPTANCE CORPORATION
                   18722 MacArthur Blvd.
                   Irvine, CA 92612
                   Attention:  Peter Ellis,
                                President,
                                or his successor


   If to ABT:      AUTO-BY-TEL, INC.
                   18722 MacArthur Blvd.
                   Irvine, CA 92612
                   Attention:  Peter Ellis,
                                President,
                                or his successor

                           Schedule 1 - Page 1 of 1

<PAGE>
 
                                   SCHEDULE 2

                                       TO

                     FINANCING INQUIRY REFERRAL AGREEMENT,
                     DATED AS OF OCTOBER 25, 1996, BETWEEN
                CHASE MANHATTAN AUTOMOTIVE FINANCE CORPORATION,
                     AND AUTO-BY-TEL ACCEPTANCE CORPORATION
             AND AUTO-BY-TEL, INC., AS GUARANTOR (THE "AGREEMENT")


                         REPRESENTATIONS AND WARRANTIES

                    Capitalized terms used in this Schedule
                 and not defined herein shall have the meanings
                       ascribed thereto in the Agreement.


(A) Representations and Warranties of ABTAC.
- ------------------------------------------- 

ABTAC hereby makes the following representations and warranties to CAF:

          (1)  ABTAC has been duly organized and is validly existing as a
corporation under the laws of the state of Delaware and is duly licensed where
required as a "Licensee" or is otherwise qualified in each state in which it
transacts business and is not in default of such state's applicable laws, rules
and regulations, except where the failure to so qualify or such default would
not have a material adverse effect on its ability to conduct its business or to
perform its obligations under the Agreement.

          (2)  ABTAC has the requisite power and authority and legal right to
execute and deliver the Agreement, engage in the transactions contemplated by
the Agreement, and perform and observe those terms and conditions of the
Agreement to be performed or observed by it hereunder. The person signing the
Agreement, and any document executed pursuant to it, on behalf of ABTAC has full
power and authority to bind ABTAC. The execution, delivery and performance of
the Agreement, and the performance by ABTAC of all transactions contemplated
therein, have been duly authorized by all necessary and appropriate corporate
action on the part of ABTAC.

          (3)  The Agreement has been duly authorized and executed by ABTAC and
is valid, binding and enforceable against ABTAC in accordance with its terms,
except that such enforcement may be subject to bankruptcy, insolvency,
reorganization, moratorium or other similar laws (whether statutory, regulatory
or decisional) now or hereafter in effect 

                           Schedule 2 - Page 1 of 3

<PAGE>
 
relating to creditors' rights generally, and the execution, delivery and
performance by ABTAC of the Agreement do not conflict with any term or provision
of (i) its certificate of incorporation or bylaws, (ii) any law, rule,
regulation, order, judgment, writ, injunction or decree applicable to ABTAC of
any court, regulatory body, administrative agency or governmental body having
jurisdiction over ABTAC or (iii) any agreement to which ABTAC is a party or by
which its property is bound.

          (4)  No consent, approval, authorization or order of, registration or
filing with, or notice to any governmental authority or court is required under
applicable law in connection with the execution, delivery and performance by
ABTAC of the Agreement.

          (5)  There is no action, proceeding or investigation pending or, to
the best knowledge of ABTAC, threatened against it before any court,
administrative agency or other tribunal (i) asserting the invalidity of the
Agreement, (ii) seeking to prevent the consummation of any of the transactions
contemplated by the Agreement, or (iii) which could reasonably be expected to
materially and adversely affect its performance of its respective obligations
under, or the validity or enforceability of, the Agreement.

          (6)  ABTAC has all regulatory approvals, authorizations, licenses,
permits and other permissions, consents and authorities whatsoever, needed to
operate the ABT Website and perform ABTAC's obligations under the Agreement.

          (7)  ABTAC warrants that it has the legal and valid right to use any
registered or unregistered trademark, tradename, service mark, logo, emblem or
other proprietary designation, or any variations, derivatives and modifications
thereof, used by it in the materials provided to CAF or used by ABTAC in
connection with the Agreement (the "ABTAC Marks").

(B) Representations and Warranties of CAF.  CAF hereby makes the following
- -----------------------------------------                                 
representations and warranties to ABTAC:

          (1)  CAF is duly licensed where and as required in each state in which
it transacts business and is not in default of such state's applicable laws,
rules and regulations, except where such default would not have a material
adverse effect on the ability of CAF to conduct its business or to perform its
obligations under the Agreement.

          (2)  CAF has the requisite power and authority and legal right to
execute and deliver, engage in the transactions contemplated by, and perform and
observe the terms and conditions of, the Agreement. The person or persons
signatory to the Agreement and any document executed pursuant to it on behalf of
CAF have full power and authority to bind CAF. The execution, delivery and
performance of the Agreement, and the performance by CAF of all transactions
contemplated therein, have been duly authorized by all necessary and appropriate
and corporate action on the part of CAF.

                           Schedule 2 - Page 2 of 3

<PAGE>
 
          (3)  The Agreement has been duly authorized and executed by CAF and is
valid, binding and enforceable against CAF in accordance with its terms, except
that such enforcement may be subject to bankruptcy, insolvency, reorganization,
moratorium or other similar laws (whether statutory, regulatory or decisional)
now or hereafter in effect relating to creditors' rights generally, and the
execution, delivery and performance by CAF of the Agreement do not conflict with
any term or provision of the certificate of incorporation or bylaws of CAF, or
any law, rule, regulation, order, judgment, writ, injunction or decree
applicable to CAF of any court, regulatory body, administrative agency or
governmental body having jurisdiction over CAF.

          (4)  No consent, approval, authorization or order of, registration or
filing with, or notice to any governmental authority or court is required under
applicable law in connection with the execution, delivery and performance by CAF
of the Agreement.

          (5)  There is no action, proceeding or investigation pending or, to
the best knowledge of CAF, threatened against it before any court,
administrative agency or other tribunal (i) asserting the invalidity of the
Agreement, (ii) seeking to prevent the consummation of any of the transactions
contemplated by the Agreement, or (iii) which could reasonably be expected to
materially and adversely affect the performance by CAF of its obligations under,
or the validity or enforceability of, the Agreement.

          (6)  CAF warrants that it has all regulatory approvals,
authorizations, licenses, permits and other permissions, consents and
authorities whatsoever, as needed (i) to offer and enter into the financing
arrangements with Customers contemplated by the Agreement in each jurisdiction
in the Territory and to otherwise perform its obligations under the Agreement,
and (ii) to use any materials developed, provided or used by CAF in connection
with the Agreement.

          (7)  CAF warrants that it has the legal and valid right to use any
registered or unregistered trademark, tradename, service mark, logo, emblem or
other proprietary designation, or any variations, derivatives and modifications
thereof, used by it in any materials provided to ABTAC or used by CAF in
connection with the Agreement.

                           Schedule 2 - Page 3 of 3

<PAGE>
 
                                   SCHEDULE 3

                                       TO

                     FINANCING INQUIRY REFERRAL AGREEMENT,
                     DATED AS OF OCTOBER 25, 1996, BETWEEN
                CHASE MANHATTAN AUTOMOTIVE FINANCE CORPORATION,
                     AND AUTO-BY-TEL ACCEPTANCE CORPORATION
             AND AUTO-BY-TEL, INC., AS GUARANTOR (THE "AGREEMENT")


                      PROVISIONS OF GENERAL APPLICABILITY

                    Capitalized terms used in this Schedule
                 and not defined herein shall have the meanings
                       ascribed thereto in the Agreement.


          (a)   Entire Agreement.  Except as specified in paragraph (b) of this
                ----------------                                               
Schedule 3, the Agreement and the exhibits and schedules thereto constitute the
entire agreement of the parties, and may be amended from time to time only upon
the execution of a written amendment by the parties.  The indemnities of Section
8 of the Agreement shall survive the termination thereof.

          (b)   Confidentiality.  Both ABTAC and CAF have made and will continue
                ---------------                                                 
throughout the term of the Agreement to make available to the other party
confidential and proprietary materials and information ("Proprietary
Information").  Prospectively, each party shall advise the other of material and
information that is confidential and/or proprietary.  Proprietary Information
does not include materials or information that: (a) are already, or otherwise
become, generally known by third parties as a result of no act or omission of
the receiving party; (b) subsequent to disclosure hereunder are lawfully
received from a third party having the right to disseminate the information and
without restriction on disclosure; (c) are generally furnished to others by the
disclosing party without restriction on disclosure; (d) were already known by
the receiving party prior to receiving them from the disclosing party and were
not received from a third party in breach of that third party's obligations or
confidentiality; or (e) are independently developed by the receiving party
without use of confidential information of the disclosing party.

               (i)   Each party shall maintain the confidentiality of the
other's Proprietary Information and will not disclose such Proprietary
Information without the written consent of the other party unless required to by
law, rule, regulation or court order 

                           Schedule 3 - Page 1 of 3

<PAGE>
 
of any applicable jurisdiction. Each party shall also keep confidential the
terms of the Agreement and/or schedule hereto. The confidentiality provisions of
the Agreement shall survive the termination of the Agreement. Notwithstanding
any contrary provision of the Agreement, the confidentiality provisions of the
two confidentiality agreements executed by the parties hereto prior to the date
of the Agreement shall remain in full force and effect.

               (ii)   Notwithstanding any contrary provision of the Agreement,
as long as each party protects Proprietary Information of the other, neither the
exposure to the other party's confidential information nor its ownership of work
products shall prevent either party from using ideas, concepts, expressions,
know-how, skills and experience possessed by either party prior to its
association with the other party or developed by either party during its
association with the other party.

          (c)  Limitation of Liability. In no event shall either party be liable
               -----------------------
to the other party for any incidental, special, exemplary or consequential
losses or damages of any kind whatsoever (including but not limited to lost
profits), even if advised of the possibility of such losses or damages and
regardless of the form of action.

          (d)  Assignment. Either party shall have the right to transfer or
               ----------
assign the Agreement to any direct or indirect wholly-owned subsidiary at no
charge or penalty; provided, however, that such assignee assumes assignors
                   -----------------
obligations, and assignee remains liable hereunder.

          (e)  Waiver.  Neither party shall be deemed to be in default of any
               ------                                                        
provision of the Agreement or be liable to the other party or to any third party
for any delay, error, failure in performance or interruption of performance
resulting directly or indirectly from causes beyond that party's reasonable
control.  The period of performance shall be extended to such extent as may be
appropriate after the cause of the delay has been removed.  If any excusable
delay or failure to perform by a party exceeds thirty (30) days, the other party
shall have the right to terminate the Agreement without liability.

          (f)  Severability. If any provision of the Agreement is declared or
               ------------
found to be illegal, unenforceable or void, then both parties shall be relieved
of all obligations arising under such provision, but only to the extent that
such provision is illegal, unenforceable or void, it being the intent and
agreement of the parties that the Agreement shall be deemed amended by modifying
such provision to the extent necessary to make it legal and enforceable while
preserving its intent or, if that is not possible, by substituting therefore
another provision that is legal and enforceable and achieves the same objective.
Each party agrees that it will perform it, obligations hereunder in accordance
with all applicable laws, rules and regulations now or hereafter in effect.

          (g)  Arbitration. The parties acknowledge that the Agreement evidences
               -----------
a transaction involving interstate commerce. Any controversy or claim arising
out of or 

                           Schedule 3 - Page 2 of 3

<PAGE>
 
relating to the Agreement, or the breach of the same, shall be settled through
consultation and negotiation in good faith and a spirit of mutual cooperation.
However, if those attempts fail, the parties agree that any misunderstandings or
disputes arising from the Agreement shall be decided by arbitration which shall
be conducted, upon request by either party, in Orange County, California, before
three (3) arbitrators (unless both parties agree on one (1) arbitrator)
designated by the American Arbitration Association (the "AAA"), in accordance
with the terms of the Commercial Arbitration Rule of the AAA, and, to the
maximum extent applicable, the United States Arbitration Act (Title 9 of the
United States Code), or if such Act is not applicable, any substantially
equivalent state law. The parties further agree that the arbitrator(s) (i) will
decide which party must bear the expense, of the arbitration proceedings; (ii)
shall not have the authority to award punitive damages; and (iii) shall apply
the internal laws of the State of California. Notwithstanding anything herein to
the contrary, either party may proceed to a court of competent jurisdiction to
obtain injunctive relief at any time.

          (h)  Force Majeure. Neither party shall be deemed to be in default of
               -------------
any provision of the Agreement or be liable to the other party or to any third
party for any delay, error, failure in performance or interruption of
performance resulting directly or indirectly from causes beyond that party's
reasonable control. The period of performance shall be extended to such extent
as may be appropriate after the cause of the delay has been removed.

          (i)  Media Releases. ABTAC and CAF may utilize media releases to
               --------------
publicize their business relationship with the prior approval of the other party
which shall not be unreasonably withheld. ABTAC and CAF shall not use any trade
name, service mark or any other information which identifies the other in sales,
marketing, advertising and publicity materials placed in any medium without
obtaining the prior written approval of the other.

          (j)  Governing Law. The Agreement shall be governed by and construed
               -------------
in accordance with the laws of the State of California, without regard to
conflicts of law principles.

          (k)  No Agency; No Joint Venture. Neither of ABTAC nor CAF is the
               ---------------------------
agent or representative of the other. Nothing contained herein nor the acts of
the parties hereto shall be construed to create a partnership, agency or joint
venture between ABTAC and CAF.

          (l)  Counterparts.  The Agreement may be signed in two or more
               ------------                                             
counterparts, each of which shall be deemed an original, and taken together they
shall be considered one agreement.

                           Schedule 3 - Page 3 of 3



<PAGE>
 
                                                                 EXHIBIT 10.17

                       VEHICLE INSPECTION & DIGITAL IMAGE
                       ----------------------------------

                               SERVICE AGREEMENT
                               -----------------


          THIS AGREEMENT is entered into by and between Integrated Warranty
Services, Inc. ('Company"), with offices at 19750 S. Vermont Avenue, Suite 225,
Torrance, CA 90502, and Auto-By-Tel Marketing Corporation ("ABT"), with offices
at 18872 MacArthur Boulevard, 2nd Floor, Irvine, CA 92612.

          WHEREAS, ABT provides an Internet-based marketing program for the
retail sale of preowned motor vehicles by motor vehicle dealers who are
subscribing customers of ABT (the "Subscribing Dealers"): and

          WHEREAS, ABT wishes to engage the services of Company as an
independent contractor to perform inspections and create digital images of motor
vehicles in connection with the ABT Program, defined below;

          NOW THEREFORE, in consideration of the mutual promises made and for
other good and valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which is
hereby acknowledged, the parties hereby agree as follows:

1.  DEFINITIONS
    -----------

    1.1 ABT PROGRAM: ABT's Internet-based marketing program for the retail
sale of prearranged motor vehicles.

    1.2 ABT SOFTWARE: ABT's proprietary software used to electronically
transmit to ABT motor vehicle images and Vehicle Profiles.

    1.3 Competitor OF
 ABT:  A person (hereinafter, "Provider") engaged in 
marketing, receiving electronic purchase requests for and facilitating the sale 
of preowned private passenger motor vehicles over the Internet exclusively for
and on behalf of the used car departments of new car franchise motor vehicle
dealers that:

        1.3.1 own and maintain such vehicles in their dealer inventory;

        1.3.2 enter into a paid subscription for such services with the
Provider;

        1.3.3 use computer hardware and proprietary software installed at the
dealer location and purchased or leased through the Provider to periodically
input and upload to the Provider's server digitized images and a description
of such vehicles.

[*] Confidential treatment has been requested with respect to certain portions
of this agreement.

<PAGE>
 
          1.4 COVERED DEALERS:  All Subscribing Dealers within the United States
that participate in the ABT Program at any time during the term of this
Agreement

          1.5 DEALER CONTACT:  The person designated by a Covered Dealer, and
reported to Company by ABT, as the primary point of contact with Company's
designated Field Specialist.

          1.6 FIELD SPECIALIST: An employee or independent contractor of
Company who is used by Company to perform inspections and create digital
images of motor vehicles. Each Field Specialist used by Company to perform
inspections and create digital images of motor vehicles hereunder shall have:
(a) a current ASE certification; or (b) at least twenty (20) years of general
mechanical and auto body experience.

          1.7 VEHICLE ELIGIBILITY STANDARDS: ABT's minimum standards for a motor
vehicle's eligibility for the ABT Program.  These standards are as follows: (a)
the odometer reading cannot exceed 75,000 miles; (b) there can be no obvious 
body damage apparent from a visual walk-around inspection; and (c) there can be
no body or suspension modifications, such as lowered or raised suspension, 
aftermarket flarings, roof conversions (other than aftermarket sunroofs), or 
conversions to four wheel drive.

          1.8 VEHICLE PROFILE: A description of each of the motor vehicles to
be inspected and digitally photographed by a Field Specialist, including the
motor vehicle's year, make, model, accessories, options, and mileage, all
prepared in accordance with the ABT guidelines then in effect for inclusion in
the ABT Program.

2.        RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF COMPANY
          ----------------------------

          2.1 Overview of Services:  Company will assign a Field Specialist to
              --------------------
each Covered Dealer. For each of his or her assigned Covered Dealers, the
Field Specialist will call the Dealer Contact to establish a mutually
convenient time for an initial appointment for the performance of the
inspection and digital imaging services described in Section 2.2. In
preparation for the appointment, the Field Specialist will instruct the
Covered Dealer to prepare a Vehicle Profile for each of the motor vehicles
that the Covered Dealer wishes to be included in the ABT Program (the "Subject
Vehicle").

              2.1.1 Upon arriving at the Covered Dealer, the Field Specialist
will introduce himself or herself to the Dealer Contact, and request the
location of the Subject Vehicles. Based on the number of Subject Vehicles, the
Field Specialist and the Covered Dealer contact will mutually agree upon the
time that they will meet later that day to complete the data entry and
transmission process, described in Section 2.3.

              2.1.2 The Field Specialist will establish a schedule with the
Dealer Contact for future appointments. The basis for scheduled appointments
will be the Covered Dealers preowned motor vehicle turnover rate, which will
be periodically monitored by the assigned Field Specialist

                                      -2-

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested 

<PAGE>
 
          2.2 Inspection & Digital Image Services.  During each scheduled
              -----------------------------------                        
appointment with a Covered Dealer, the Field Specialist will perform a brief
inspection of each Subject Vehicle to help monitor compliance with the Vehicle
Eligibility Standards.  During the inspection, the Field Specialist will also
note any obvious inaccuracies in the Vehicle Profile.  The parties acknowledge,
however, that the Field Specialist and Company shall not be responsible for the
accuracy of the Vehicle Profiles, it being the sole responsibility of the
Covered Dealer to ensure such accuracy.  If a Subject Vehicle appears to meet
the Vehicle Eligibility Standards, the Field Specialist will create one digital
image of the Subject Vehicle at the front 3/4 angle of the right side of the 
vehicle.  If the Field Specialist determines that a Subject Vehicle does not
meet the Vehicle Eligibility Standards, the Field Specialist will not create the
digital Image.

          2.3 Data Entry & Transmission Services. After finishing the
              ----------------------------------
inspection and digital imaging process for all of the Subject Vehicles, the
Field Specialist will identify to the Dealer Contract which Subject Vehicles
failed to meet the Eligibility Standards, and any obvious inaccuracies in the
Vehicle Profiles. The Field Specialist will then download into the ABT
Software the digital images of the Subject Vehicles inspected pursuant to
Section 2.2 that appear to meet the Vehicle Eligibility Standards, and link
each such Subject Vehicle's digital image with the appropriate Vehicle
Profile. The Dealer Contact will be solely responsible for entering into the
ABT Software and correcting, where necessary, the Vehicle Profiles. However,
if requested by the Dealer Contact, the Field Specialist will assist the
Dealer Contact in using the ABT Software on the first two visits to a Covered
Dealer to help ensure compliance with the ABT Program requirements.

          2.4 System Set Up.  If requested by ABT or any Dealer, the Field
              -------------                                               
Specialist will unpackage, connect and initially boot-up the hardware supplied
to the Dealer by ABT pursuant to Section 3.3, in consideration for the
applicable charge set forth in Schedule 1.

          2.5  Exclusive Provision of Services.  During the term of this 
               -------------------------------
Agreement, Company will not provide the services described in this Section 2 to 
any Competitor of ABT.

3.        RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF ABT
          ------------------------

          3.1 Required Information.  ABT shall provide to Company each Covered
              --------------------                                            
Dealer's name, address, telephone number, name of the Dealer Contact, and such
other information regarding each Covered Dealer as Company may require in order
to perform the services described in this Agreement.  As Additional Subscribing
Dealers become Covered Dealers, ABT shall promptly send to Company the
information required by this Section.

          3.2 Training.  At no charge to Company or its Field Specialists, ABT 
              --------
will train each Dealer Contact and Field Specialist in the use of the ABT
Software, preparation of Vehicle Profiles, and desired procedures for entering
and transmitting data as described in Section 2.3.

          3.3 Hardware & Software.  ABT will ensure that each Covered Dealer
              -------------------
has the ABT Software, any other required software, and all hardware and
transmission capabilities necessary to perform the data entry and transmission
described in Section 2.3. Except as provided in Section 2.4,

                                      -3-

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested 

<PAGE>
 
prior to each Field Specialist initial appointment with each Covered Dealer, ABT
will ensure that the foregoing components are properly installed, integrated,
and configured, and that the system has been tested and is capable of performing
the data entry and transmission described in Section 2.3.  ABT shall be
responsible for the installation of all required software, prior to deliver of
the hardware to a Covered Dealer.

          3.4 Payment of Fees.  In consideration for the services rendered by
              ---------------                                                
Company hereunder, ABT shall pay to Company the fees specified in Schedule 1,
when and as required by Section 4.2.

          3.5 Exclusive Use of Services.  During the term of this Agreement, ABT
              -------------------------                                         
shall use Company as ABT exclusive provider of all motor vehicle inspection and
digital imaging services for all Covered Dealers.

4.        ACCOUNTING & REPORTING
          ----------------------

          4.1  Monthly Accounting Statement.  Within fifteen (15) days 
              -----------------------------
following the end of each of Company's fiscal months during the term of this
Agreement, Company shall provide to ABT a written statement which shall detail
the services provided to ABT for such month, and the associated charges,
calculated in accordance with Schedule 1 (the "Monthly Accounting Statement").

          4.2 Payment of Fees.  The amount set forth in the Monthly Accounting 
              ---------------                                                 
Statement shall be due and payable by ABT within thirty (30) days following
ABT's receipt of the Monthly Accounting Statement.  On all amounts not paid to
Company by ABT when due, interest shall accrue at the lesser of a rate of [*]
per month, or the highest rate permitted by law, from the date due, until the
date paid to Company, provided that ABT has been given written notice of such
overdue amounts and such amounts remain unpaid for ten (10) days after receipt
of such notice.

          4.3 Fee Increases.  Company may increase its fees stated in Schedule
              -------------
1 by no more than [*] per year.  At least thirty (30) days prior to any such fee
increase, Company shall provide to ABT a revised Schedule 1, detailing the new
fees.

5.        CONFIDENTIALITY
          ---------------

          5.1 Definition.  "CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION" shall mean: (a)
              ----------
information regarding a party's financial condition, information systems,
business operations, plans or strategies, product information, and marketing
and distribution plans, methods, and techniques; (b) information that is
marked "confidential," "proprietary" or in like words, or that is summarized
in writing as confidential prior to or promptly after disclosure to the other
party; (c) any and all related research; (d) any and all designs, ideas,
concepts, and technology embodied therein; and (e) the provisions of this
Agreement. With respect to Company, "Confidential Information" shall include
the fees stated in Schedule 1. With respect to ABT, "Confidential Information"
shall include the digital images of motor vehicles and their related Vehicle
Profiles.

                                      -4-

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested 

<PAGE>
 
          5.2 Exceptions.  Information is not considered confidential or
              ----------
proprietary if it: (a) is or becomes generally available to the public other
than as a result of disclosure by the recipient, (b) was available to or
already known by the recipient on a non-confidential basis prior to its
disclosure by the other party; (c) is developed by the recipient independently
of any information acquired from the other party; (d) becomes available to the
recipient on a non-confidential basis from a third party, provided that the
recipient has no reason to know that the third party is or may be bound by a
confidentiality agreement with the disclosing party; or (e) is disclosed
pursuant to a court order or the requirement of any governmental authority.

          5.3 Standard of Care.  Each party will hold the other party's
              ----------------
Confidential Information in confidence and will safeguard it in at least the
same manner as a prudent business person would safeguard his or her own
proprietary information and trade secrets. The party receiving Confidential
Information will not, and will not permit any of its officers, directors,
employees, or agents (collectively, "Agents") to, directly or indirectly,
report, publish, distribute, copy, disclose, or otherwise disseminate the
Confidential Information, or any portion thereof, to any third party, and will
not use, or permit any of its Agents to use, the Confidential Information, or
any portion thereof, for the benefit of itself, its Agents, or any third party
or for any purpose, except as expressly authorized in writing by the
disclosing party. Disclosure will be limited to those Agents who must examine
the Confidential Information in order to perform this Agreement.

          5.4 Injunctive Relief.  If either party or any or its Agents
              -----------------
attempts to use or disclose any of the Confidential Information in
contravention of this Agreement, then in addition to other available remedies,
the other party shall have the right to injunctive relief entering any such
attempt, it being acknowledged that legal remedies are inadequate.

6.        LIMITATIONS
          -----------

          6.1 Limit of Liability.  Company's annual, aggregate liability to
              ------------------
ABT for any damages or losses related to this Agreement, from any cause
whatsoever, and regardless of the theory of recovery, including without
limitation, tort claims, and ABT's sole and exclusive remedy, will be limited
to the total amounts actually paid to Company by ABT hereunder during the
twelve (12) month period immediately preceding the date that the cause of action
arose.

          6.2 Disclaimer of Warranties.  COMPANY MAKES NO IMPLIED WARRANTIES
              ------------------------
WITH RESPECT TO THE SERVICES PROVIDED HEREUNDER, INCLUDING, WITHOUT
LIMITATION, THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR
PURPOSE.

7.        TERM-TERMINATION
          ----------------

          7.1 Effective Date.  This Agreement shall commence on February 1,
              --------------
1997, and shall continue in effect until terminated as provided in this
Article.

                                      -5-

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested 

<PAGE>
 
          7.2 Termination Without Cause.  At any time, this Agreement may be
              -------------------------                                     
terminated by either party without cause by giving at least ninety (90) days
prior written notice to the other party.

          7.3 Termination With Cause.  This Agreement may be terminated
              ----------------------
immediately duties or obligations hereunder if, after receiving written notice
of such failure to discharge duties or obligations, such failure is not cured
to the reasonable satisfaction of the party sending notice within thirty (30)
days of the date of receipt of such notice.

          7.4 Termination (or Failure to Pay.  Company may terminate this
              ------------------------------
Agreement immediately upon written notice should ABT fail to pay any amount
due and owing Company, when and as required by this Agreement provided that
ABT has been given ten (10) days prior written notice of the amount due and the
intent to terminate under this Section.

          7.5 Bankruptcy. Insolvency, etc.  Either party may terminate this
              ----------------------------                                 
Agreement immediately upon receipt of written notice by the other party if:  (a)
the other party commences a voluntary case or other proceeding under any
bankruptcy or insolvency law, or seeks the appointment of a trustee, receiver,
liquidator, custodian, or similar official of all or any substantial part of its
property; (b) an involuntary case or other preceding under any bankruptcy or
insolvency law seeking the appointment of a trustee, receiver, liquidator,
custodian, or similar official for all or any substantial part of the other
party's property, is commenced against the other party, and the other party
consents to any relief requested, or such proceeding is not stayed or discharged
within thirty (30) days; or (c) the other party makes a general assignment for
the benefit of creditors or fails generally to pay its debts as they become due.

8.        RIGHTS AFTER TERMINATION
          ------------------------

          8.1 Final Monthly Accounting Statement.  A final Monthly Accounting 
              ----------------------------------
Statement shall be sent to ABT within thirty (30) days after the end of the last
Company fiscal month for which services are performed by Company hereunder. ABT
shall pay the amount specified therein when and as required by Section 4.2.

          8.2 Return of Confidential Information.  Upon the effective date of
              ----------------------------------                             
termination of this Agreement, each party shall cease all use of the other
party's Confidential Information, and shall return to the other party all such
Confidential information in its possession.  Within thirty (30) days after
termination of this Agreement for any reason.

9.        DISPUTES
          --------

          9.1 Dispute Resolution Process.  If any dispute arises in connection
              --------------------------
with this Agreement and is not resolved in the normal course of business, the
parties will resolve the dispute, not by litigation or other judicial means,
but through a Dispute Resolution Process consisting of a progression of the
following: (a) direct negotiations between the project managers or other

                                      -6-

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested 

<PAGE>
 
designated personnel; (b) negotiations at the senior executive level; (c)
mediation; and (d) binding arbitration.

          9.2 Initiation of Process.  Either party may initiate the Dispute
              ---------------------                                        
Resolution Process by delivering written notice to the other party.  Thereafter,
the parties shall mutually develop and agree upon the specific procedures and
guidelines which shall govern the Dispute Resolution Procedures. Except as
otherwise agreed by the parties, any mediation or arbitration proceedings shall
be conducted in accordance with the applicable rules of the American Arbitration
Association, as then in effect.  The arbitrators shall have no authority to
award exemplary or punitive damages.

          9.3 Equitable Relief.  Nothing herein shall prohibit either party from
              ----------------                                                  
seeking a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction or other equitable
relief from a court of competent jurisdiction if, in its judgement, such action
is necessary to avoid irreparable damage or to preserve the status quo.

10.       MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
          ------------------------

          10.1 Notices.  All notices which are requited to be in writing shall
               -------
be effective when received, and shall be delivered personally, by overnight
courier, or by certified U.S. mail, return receipt requested, to the parties
at the addresses listed below. Any notice of change of address will be
effective only upon receipt.

                If to Company:    President
                                  Integrated Warranty Services, Inc.
                                  19750 S. Vermont Avenue, Suite 225
                                  Torrance, CA 90502

                With a copy to:   General Counsel, Law Department
                                  Progressive Casualty Insurance Company
                                  6300 Wilson Mills Road
                                  Mayfield Village, Ohio 44143

                If to ABT:        President
                                  Auto-By-Tel Marketing Corporation
                                  18872 MacArthur Boulevard, 2nd Floor
                                  Irvine, CA 92612

          10.12 Waiver.  No waiver or modification of this Agreement or of any
                ------                                                        
covenant condition, or limitation herein contained shall be valid unless agreed
to in a writing that expressly refers to this Agreement and is signed by both
parties.  No evidence of any waiver or modification shall be offered or received
in evidence in any mediation, arbitration, or litigation proceeding between the
parties arising out of or affecting this Agreement, or the rights or obligations
of any party hereunder, unless such waiver or modification is in writing and
duly executed as aforesaid.  The provisions of this Section may not be waived
except as herein set forth.  The failure to insist upon strict compliance

                                      -7-

<PAGE>
 
with any of the terms, covenants, or conditions hereof shall not be deemed a
waiver of such terms, covenants, or conditions.  No waiver or relinquishment of
any right or power hereunder, at any one or more times, shall be deemed a waiver
or relinquishment of such right or power at any other time or times.

          10.3 Severability.  Any provision of this Agreement determined to be
               ------------                                                   
invalid or unenforceable by a court, board, or tribunal of competent
jurisdiction (hereinafter referred to as "Court") shall not affect the other
provisions hereof, and this Agreement shall be construed in all respects as if
such provisions written in a manner acceptable to such Court or, if such
provision is found to be totally unacceptable to such Court in any form, then as
if such invalid provisions were omitted altogether.

          10.4 Entire Agreement.  This Agreement embodies the entire
               ----------------
understanding between the parties regarding the subject matter hereof. All
prior or contemporaneous correspondence, proposals, offers, conversations, or
memoranda relating to the subject matter hereof, are merged in and replaced by
this Agreement, and are t any force or effect whatsoever. No change,
alteration, or modification hereof may be made except in a writing that
expressly refers to this Agreement and is signed by both parties. This
Agreement supersedes any previous agreements between the parties relating to
the subject matter hereof.

          10.5 Independent Contractor.  Company's relationship under this
               ----------------------
Agreement to ABT is, and shall remain at all times, that of independent
contractor. Neither party is responsible for the debts and liabilities of the
other. Nothing shall be deemed to create any form of principal-agent
relationship, partnership, or joint venture between the parties. Neither party
shall have any participation in, by way of management or otherwise, the
operations of the other, other than as provided for in this Agreement, and
nothing shall be deemed to create or recognize any relationship other than
that which is expressly described herein.

          10.6 Binding Effect/Assignability.  This Agreement shall be binding
               ----------------------------
upon and shall inure to the benefit of the parties and their respective
successors and permitted assigns. Neither this Agreement nor any rights or
duties hereunder may be assigned or delegated by either party without the
prior consent in writing of the other party. Each party shall provide to the
other party such information relating to any permitted assignments or
delegations hereunder, as reasonably requested by the other party.

          10.7 Force Majeure.  Neither party shall be deemed to be in default
               -------------
of any provision of this Agreement for any failure in performance resulting
from acts or events beyond the reasonable control of such party. For purposes
of this Agreement such acts shall include, without limitation, acts of God,
civil or military authority, civil disturbance, war, strikes, fires, or other
catastrophes, or any other force majeure event beyond the party's reasonable
control.

          10.8 Counterparts.  This Agreement may be executed in one or more
               ------------                                                
counterparts, each of which shall be an original, but all of which together
shall constitute but one and the same instrument.

                                      -8-

<PAGE>
 
          10.9 Governing Law.  This Agreement is entered into and shall be
               -------------
governed by the laws of the State of California.

          10.10 Captions.  The captions contained in this Agreement are for
                --------
purposes of organization only and do not constitute a part of the Agreement.

          10.11 Survival.  The provisions of Sections 5.0 (Confidentiality), 6.0
                --------                                                        
(Limitations), 8.0 (Rights After Termination), and 9.0 (Disputes) shall survive
the termination of this Agreement.

          IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties have caused this Agreement to be
signed by their duly authorized representatives, effective as of the lst day of
February, 1997.

AUTO-BY-TEL MARKETING           INTEGRATED WARRANTY  
CORPORATION                     SERVICES,INC.


By:                             By:
   ---------------------------     --------------------------------

Name:                           Name: 
     -------------------------       ------------------------------
Title:                          Title:
      ------------------------        -----------------------------

                                      -9-

<PAGE>
 
                                 SCHEDULE 1

                                SERVICE FEES

          This Schedule is attached to and forms a part of the Vehicle
Inspection & Digital Image Service Agreement between Integrated Warranty
Services, Inc. ("Company") and Auto-By-Tel Marketing Corporation ("ABT"), dated
February 1, 1997 (the "Agreement").  Words or phrases that are capitalized, but
not defined in this Schedule shall have the meaning ascribed to them in the
Agreement.

1.   Fees for the services provided by Company under the Agreement shall be each
     visit to a Covered Dealer by a Field Specialist, based on the number of
     Subject Vehicles for which services are performed by the Field Specialist
     during such visit. For each such visit, the applicable fee shall be the
     greater of [*] or the Service Fee per motor vehicle determined from the
     following table:


<TABLE> 
<CAPTION>                                            
                   Number of Subject Vehicles         Service Fee per Subject
                    Inspected per Covered               Vehicle per Covered
                        Dealer Visit                       Dealer Visit
                 <S>                                  <C> 
                           1 - 49                              [*]
                          50 - 74                              [*]
                          75 - 99                              [*]
                         100 or more                           [*]
</TABLE>
 

2.   In addition to the foregoing Service Fees, ABT shall pay to Company

     a.   [*] for each computer system set up by a Field Specialist pursuant to 
          Section 2.4; and

     b.   [*] per mile for each mile traveled by the Field Specialist per 
          Covered Dealer visit over the first [*] miles.

Effective Date of Schedule:  February 1, 1997.

Accepted and agreed:

AUTO-BY-TEL MARKETING                   INTEGRATED WARRANTY  
CORPORATION                             SERVICES,INC.


By:                                     By:
   ---------------------------             --------------------------------
Name:                                   Name:
     -------------------------               ------------------------------
Title:                                  Title:
      ------------------------                -----------------------------

                                      -10-

[*] Confidential Treatment Requested 



<PAGE>
 
                                                                   EXHIBIT 10.18

           MARKETING AND APPLICATION PROCESSING AGREEMENT


     This MARKETING AND APPLICATION PROCESSING AGREEMENT ("Agreement"),
dated as of February 1, 1997, between General Electric Capital Auto Financial
Services, Inc. (GECAFS), a Delaware corporation with its principal place of
business at 600 Hart Road, Barrington, Illinois, and Auto-By-Tel Acceptance
Corporation ("ABTAC") and Auto-By-Tel Corporation ("ABT") (as guarantor of the
obligations of ABTAC under this Agreement, in such capacity, the "Guarantor"),
each a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business at 18872
MacArthur Boulevard, Suite 200, Irvine, California 92612.


                             WITNESSETH:

     WHEREAS, ABTAC is in the business of, among other things marketing
financial services to persons interested in arranging financing for the lease
of new and used motor vehicles ("Vehicles") who visit the ABT Internet website
("Customers") and GECAFS and its affiliates are in the business of purchasing
leases of Vehicles from authorized dealers in the business of leasing such
goods; and

     WHEREAS, ABTAC desires to promote the services of GECAFS to certain
such Customers in exchange for a marketing fee, and GECAFS desires to purchase
leases and is willing to pay such
 fees, in connection with new lease accounts
opened as a result of ABTAC's marketing;

     NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing premises, and for
other good and valuable consideration the receipt and sufficiency of which is
hereby acknowledged, and intending to be legally bound, ABTAC and GECAFS agree
as follows:


                             SECTION 1.

                          FINANCING PROGRAM
                          -----------------
  
     (A)  ABTAC will cause to be included on the ABT Website, along with
specific identification of GECAFS as a participating lender in form and content
reasonably satisfactory to GECAFS, either an application in a form reasonably
satisfactory to GECAFS, substantially as set forth on Exhibit A hereto, or a
nonspecific credit application soliciting information requested by GECAFS. 
(Each such completed application is referred to herein as a "GECAFS
Application" and each Customer who completes a GECAFS Application is referred
to herein as an "Applicant.") GECAFS may, from time to time, request changes in
the information solicited by such application and ABTAC will use its best
efforts to accommodate such requests.  GECAFS will be under no obligation
hereunder with respect to any GECAFS Application which does not solicit the
information requested by GECAFS.

             CONFIDENTIAL TREATMENT HAS BEEN REQUESTED FOR CERTAIN
                          PORTIONS OF THIS DOCUMENT.

<PAGE>
 
     (B)  GECAFS will offer to enter into a contract purchase agreement
("Closing Agreement") with each seller of Vehicles in the continental United
States (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) and the District of Columbia ("United
States") who has executed an online purchase request referral agreement with
ABT and who otherwise meets GECAF's standards for such relationships
("Dealer(s)").  ABTAC will assist GECAFS in securing signed Closing Agreements
with Dealers and will provide GECAFS with the address of each Dealer to
facilitate this process.  The Closing Agreement will contain customary terms no
less favorable to the Dealers than GECAFS' customary agreements in use with its
other leasing programs and will govern the terms upon which the Dealer and
GECAFS will close the Vehicle leasing transactions the subject of this
Agreement ("Contracts").  ABTAC agrees, subject to its reasonable business
judgment and available resources, to promote its leasing programs to Dealers
and to support, assist and cooperate with GECAFS in the marketing of this
program, and its proper execution, to Dealers.  Upon execution of a Closing
Agreement, GECAFS will assign such Dealer an identifying number (the "Dealer
ID") and inform ABTAC of such number.  GECAFS will be responsible for informing
Dealers of the nature of its leasing programs.  ABTAC will be responsible for
informing Dealers of the nature of its services and the differences, if any,
between the programs described by GECAFS and the ABTAC programs.

     (C)  ABTAC will not be a party to, will have no obligations with
respect to and will be held harmless by GECAFS with respect to any act or
omission by GECAFS which gives rise to any losses or liabilities arising from
or in connection with the Closing Agreements.  If for any reason the Closing
Agreement between a Dealer and GECAFS is terminated, then GECAFS will be under
no obligation to approve any application received from customers of such Dealer.

     (D)  GECAFS agrees to provide each Applicant lease rates and terms not less
favorable to Applicants than those offered by GECAFS to similar customers in its
customary lease programs unless ABTAC requests, and GECAFS agrees to offer, less
favorable terms. The standard money factor used to derive a monthly payment for
any Contract will be the rate factor announced by GECAFS from time to time in
its sole discretion as the minimum rate factor acceptable to GECAFS. Upon ten
business days' prior written notice, ABTAC may request that GECAFS increase such
rate factor, for such Contracts purchased by GECAFS and for such period as ABTAC
may specify, by an amount which will result in a remittance to ABTAC, in
accordance with Section 6 hereof, of a certain sum requested by ABTAC, not to
exceed [*] unless otherwise agreed, for each applicable Contract purchased by
GECAFS during such period.

     (E)  Each GECAFS Application received by ABTAC with respect to which GECAFS
is competitive will be forwarded to GECAFS for review until such time as the
volume targets set forth in Section 1(F) are achieved. As used herein,
"competitive" will mean cases in which the Applicant's monthly Contract payment
under the standard GECAFS program applicable to such Contracts would be not more
than [*] greater than the lowest monthly Contract payment otherwise available to
the Applicant, all other Contract terms being equal, from any other source of
financing with whom ABTAC is then doing business under the same or similar terms
as ABTAC's agreement with GECAFS. "Competitiveness" will be determined as
accurately as possible in good faith with reference to available data. GECAFS
and ABTAC each reserves the right to audit the process by which
"competitiveness" is determined. If GECAFS declines to proceed with the
transaction as described,

                                      -2-

                     [*] CONFIDENTIAL TREATMENT REQUESTED


<PAGE>
 
GECAFS will return such GECAFS Application to ABTAC for additional information
or forwarding to another financing source, as the case may be. If ABTAC
requests, GECAFS will cooperate with ABTAC in developing a screening methodology
based upon GECAFS' underwriting criteria then in effect which would enable ABTAC
to forward to GECAFS only those GECAFS Applications meeting an agreed upon
subset of credit criteria and to forward the remaining applications to other
financing sources. Such responsibilities are illustrated by the Process Map
attached hereto as Exhibit B, as may be modified from time to time. GECAFS and
ABTAC have agreed upon the responsibilities of each in developing the tools
necessary to implement this Process Map and this Agreement.

     (F)  The terms of this Agreement are based in part upon the expectation by
GECAFS of monthly Contract volume targets of [*], respectively, during the first
three years of this Agreement and upon the expectation of ABTAC of providing
such volume. The standard for "competitiveness" set forth above and volume
targets will be subject to review after six months and periodically thereafter,
based upon the extent to which those expectations are being realized.

                             SECTION 2.

          RECEIPT AND TRANSMISSION OF APPLICANT INFORMATION
          -------------------------------------------------

     (A)  Subject to the provisions of Section 1, ABTAC will transmit each
completed GECAFS Application to GECAFS by telephone, telefax, email, or other
electronic or agreed upon means.  Also subject to the provisions of Section 1,
ABTAC is under no obligation to screen or review any GECAFS Application before
transmission to GECAFS; provided, however, that ABTAC agrees not to transmit
incomplete Applications or Applicant information that ABTAC actually knows to
be false or misleading in any material respect.

     (B)  ABTAC also agrees to subject Applicant information to the security
and confidentiality procedures consistent with its corporate policies in effect
from time to time.  ABTAC will not use any such information in any manner which
violates applicable law in effect from time to time and will keep
communications from GECAFS to Applicants or Dealers confidential.

     (C)  GECAFS acknowledges and agrees that ABTAC has no liability, duty
or obligation with respect to the processing, underwriting, funding, or closing
of any lease.  Except as set forth herein, ABTAC will have no responsibility
for, and makes no representation or warranty in connection with, the truth or
accuracy of the information provided by or on behalf of any Applicant or in the
GECAFS Application or regarding the eligibility of the Applicant for a lease.

     (D)  ABTAC will not make, and will use its best efforts to keep any of
its employees or agents from making, any oral or written statement to
Applicants or Dealers that would discourage, on a basis prohibited by law, an
Applicant from making or pursuing any transaction contemplated by this
Agreement.

                                      -3-

                     [*] CONFIDENTIAL TREATMENT REQUESTED

<PAGE>
 
                             SECTION 3.

                            UNDERWRITING
                            ------------
  
     (A)  Upon receipt, GECAFS will review each GECAFS Application in
accordance with its underwriting criteria and applicable law.  GECAFS will
approve all GECAFS Applications meeting the underwriting criteria unless, in
accordance with its usual practice of applying GECAFS' underwriting policies,
the Applicant is otherwise not creditworthy.  ABTAC acknowledges that GECAFS
has sole discretion in determining whether or not to approve a GECAFS
Application, which discretion GECAFS agrees to exercise in a manner consistent
with its customary underwriting procedures in effect from time to time.

     (B)  The goal of GECAFS will be to complete its review within four hours
after electronic receipt of a GECAFS Application but, absent unusual
circumstances, such review will be completed not later than the following
business day.

     (C)  GECAFS reserves the sole right and power to change the
underwriting criteria in accordance with GECAFS' normal business practices and
subject to applicable law, and further to suspend, restrict or modify the
purchase of leases in any portion of the United States for regulatory reasons. 
GECAFS will provide ABTAC with advance written notice, given as early as
practicable, of any actions it plans to implement under this Section.  Any such
actions will be taken in good faith.


                             SECTION 4.

                  COMMUNICATION OF CREDIT DECISIONS
                  ---------------------------------

     At the completion of underwriting as set forth in Section 3(B) of this
Agreement, GECAFS will notify ABTAC of GECAFS' credit decision.  ABTAC will
notify the Dealer and the Applicant on behalf of GECAFS, in the case of
approval and the Applicant in the case of disapproval.  If GECAFS declines a
request for credit, GECAFS will send to the Applicant any and all notices
required, but only those required, pursuant to federal or applicable state law
or regulation including, but not limited to, those required under the federal
Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Federal Reserve Regulation B.


                             SECTION 5.

                         CLOSING AND FUNDING
                         -------------------

     After the notification to the Dealer and Applicant, ABTAC will have no
responsibility under this Agreement to any of the Dealer (except as set forth in
Section l(B)), the Applicant or GECAFS. GECAFS will use its best efforts to
close all approved Contracts and will, absent unusual circumstances, remit the
proceeds of each Contract to the related Dealer within two business days
following compliance with all requirements for submission of Contracts under the
terms of the

                                      -4-

                     [*] CONFIDENTIAL TREATMENT REQUESTED

<PAGE>
 
applicable Closing Agreement. Contracts submitted incorrectly with respect to
the parameters of the ABTAC program will not be accepted by GECAFS but will be
corrected by agreement with the Dealer or returned to the Dealer for correction
and resubmission provided, however, that GECAFS may afford the Dealer the
benefit of any GECAFS program available to its dealers from time to time the
effect of which does not adversely affect the applicant's rate. GECAFS will
advise ABTAC of the existence and provisions of such programs. ABTAC will assist
GECAFS in encouraging Dealers to resubmit such corrected Contracts to GECAFS for
approval and not to other lenders.


                             SECTION 6.

                            COMPENSATION
                            ------------

     During the term of this Agreement, GECAFS will pay to ABTAC a marketing fee
of [*] for each Contract that is funded under the terms of this Agreement.
GECAFS will use its best efforts to effect such payment, and any amount payable
pursuant to Section l.D. hereof, weekly for Contracts funded in the prior period
but in no event will compensation for any Contract be paid more than 30 days
after funding. ABTAC will be responsible for compensating the associated Dealer
in accordance with its on-line purchase referral agreement with such Dealer.


                                  SECTION 7.

                                   REPORTS
                                   -------  

     (A)  On or before the 10th day of each month, GECAFS will transmit
electronically to ABTAC a report, sorted by Dealer ID and identifying the name
of each Applicant, outlining for the preceding month: (1) the number of GECAFS
Applications received from ABTAC, (2) the number of GECAFS Applications that
were approved and funded, (3) the number of GECAFS Applications pending at
month-end and (4) the number and aggregate outstanding balance of Contracts
funded during the effectiveness of this Agreement.  GECAFS will include with
such report a report indicating any Dealers which executed a Closing Agreement
and any Closing Agreements which terminated during the preceding month.

     (B)  On the effective date of this Agreement, ABTAC will advise GECAFS
in writing of all sources of financing with whom ABTAC is doing business in the
same or similar fashion as GECAFS.  On or before the 10th day of each month,
ABTAC will advise GECAFS in writing of any additions or deletions to such list.
In addition, on or before the 10th day of each month, ABTAC will transmit
electronically to GECAFS a report outlining for the preceding month: [*]

                                      -5-

                     [*] CONFIDENTIAL TREATMENT REQUESTED

<PAGE>
 
     (C)  GECAFS and ABTAC will meet periodically, upon reasonable request,
to review all aspects of the program.  GECAFS agrees to discuss with ABTAC, not
less than quarterly, at least the following aggregate portfolio performance
information for the ABTAC leases: [*].


                             SECTION 8.

               STANDARDS FOR TRANSMITTING INFORMATION
               --------------------------------------
 
     GECAFS will either provide or make available to ABTAC its unique code
sets and edit procedures on a periodic basis as deemed necessary by GECAFS to
permit performance hereunder.  ABTAC will transmit all Applications and other
information to GECAFS in the predefined format utilizing such GECAFS code sets
and in accordance with such parameters, all as set forth in Exhibit C attached
hereto and as may be amended from time to time.


                             SECTION 9.

                              GUARANTEE
                              ---------

     Guarantor hereby unconditionally and irrevocably guarantees to GECAFS,
its successors, endorsees and assigns, the performance when due of all present
and future obligations and liabilities of all kinds of ABTAC arising out of or
in connection with the Agreement, whether due or to become due, secured or
unsecured, absolute or contingent, joint or several ("Obligations").  The
Guarantor agrees that GECAFS and ABTAC may mutually agree to modify the
obligations or any agreement between GECAFS and ABTAC without in any way
impairing or affecting this Guarantee.


                             SECTION 10.

                   REPRESENTATIONS AND WARRANTIES
                   ------------------------------
 
     (A)  Representations and Warranties Of ABTAC.  ABTAC hereby makes the
          ---------------------------------------   
following representations and warranties to GECAFS:

          (1)  ABTAC has been duly organized and is validly existing as a
corporation under the laws of the state of Delaware and is duly licensed where
required or is otherwise qualified in each 

                                      -6-

                     [*] CONFIDENTIAL TREATMENT REQUESTED

<PAGE>
 
state in which it transacts business and is not in default of such state's
applicable laws, rules and regulations, except where the failure to so qualify
or such default would not have a material adverse effect on its ability to
conduct its business or to perform its obligations under the Agreement.

          (2)  ABTAC has the requisite power and authority and legal right
to execute and deliver the Agreement, engage in the transactions contemplated
by the Agreement, and perform and observe those terms and conditions of the
Agreement to be performed or observed by it hereunder.  The person signing the
Agreement, and any document executed pursuant to it, on behalf of ABTAC has
full power and authority to bind ABTAC.  The execution, delivery and
performance of the Agreement, and the performance by ABTAC of all transactions
contemplated therein, have been duly authorized by all necessary and
appropriate corporate action on the part of ABTAC.

          (3)  The Agreement has been duly authorized and executed by ABTAC
and is valid, binding and enforceable against ABTAC in accordance with its
terms, except that such enforcement may be subject to bankruptcy, insolvency,
reorganization, moratorium or other similar laws (whether statutory, regulatory
or decisional) now or hereafter in effect relating to creditors' rights
generally, and the execution, delivery and performance by ABTAC of the
Agreement do not conflict with any term or provision of (a) its certificate of
incorporation or bylaws, (b) any law, rule, regulation, order, judgment, writ,
injunction or decree applicable to ABTAC of any court, regulatory body,
administrative agency or governmental body having jurisdiction over ABTAC or
(3) any agreement to which ABTAC is a party or by which its property is bound.

          (4)  No consent, approval, authorization or order of, registration
or filing with, or notice to any governmental authority or court is required
under applicable law in connection with the execution, delivery and performance
by ABTAC of the Agreement.

          (5)  There is no action, proceeding or investigation pending or,
to the best knowledge of ABTAC, threatened against it before any court,
administrative agency or other tribunal (a) asserting the invalidity of the
Agreement, (b) seeking to prevent the consummation of any of the transactions
contemplated by the Agreement, or (3) which could reasonably be expected to
materially and adversely affect its performance of its respective obligations
under, or the validity or enforceability of, the Agreement.

          (6)  AR regulatory approvals, authorizations, licenses, permits
and other permissions, consents and authorities whatsoever needed to operate
the ABT Website and perform this Agreement have been received.

          (7)  ABTAC warrants that it has the legal and valid right to use
any registered or unregistered trademark, trade name, service mark, logo,
emblem or other proprietary designation, or any variations, derivatives and
modifications thereof, used by it in the materials provided to GECAFS or used
by ABTAC in connection with the Agreement.

     (B)  Representations and Warranties of GECAFS.  GECAFS hereby makes the
          ---------------------------------------- 
following representations and warranties to ABTAC:

                                      -7-

<PAGE>
 
          (1)  GECAFS has been duly organized and is validly existing as a
corporation under the laws of the state of Delaware and is duly licensed where
required or is otherwise qualified in each state in which it transacts business
and is not in default of such state's applicable laws, rules and regulations,
except where the failure to so qualify or such default would not have a
material adverse effect on its ability to conduct its business or to perform
its obligations under the Agreement.

          (2)  GECAFS has the requisite power and authority and legal right
to execute and deliver, engage in the transactions contemplated by, and perform
and observe the terms and conditions of, the Agreement.  The person or persons
signatory to the Agreement and any document executed pursuant to it on behalf
of GECAFS have full power and authority to bind GECAFS.  The execution,
delivery and performance of the Agreement, and the performance by GECAFS of all
transactions contemplated therein, have been duly authorized by all necessary
and appropriate and corporate action on the part of GECAFS.

          (3)  The Agreement has been duly authorized and executed by GECAFS
and is valid, binding and enforceable against GECAFS in accordance with its
terms, except that such enforcement may be subject to bankruptcy, insolvency,
reorganization, moratorium or other similar laws (whether statutory, regulatory
or decisional) now or hereafter in effect relating to creditors' rights
generally, and the execution, delivery and performance by GECAFS of the
Agreement do not conflict with any term or provision of (a) its certificate of
incorporation or bylaws, (b) any law, rule, regulation, order, judgment, writ,
injunction or decree applicable to GECAFS of any court, regulatory body,
administrative agency or governmental body having jurisdiction over GECAFS or
(3) any agreement to which GECAFS is a party or by which its properly is bound.

          (4)  No consent, approval, authorization or order of, registration
or filing with, or notice to any governmental authority or court is required
under applicable law in connection with the execution, delivery and performance
by GECAFS of the Agreement.

          (5)  There is no action, proceeding or investigation pending or,
to the best knowledge of GECAFS, threatened against it before any court,
administrative agency or other tribunal (a) asserting the invalidity of the
Agreement, (b) seeking to prevent the consummation of any of the transactions
contemplated by the Agreement, or (3) which could reasonably be expected to
materially and adversely affect the performance by GECAFS of its obligations
under, or the validity or enforceability of, the Agreement.

          (6)  GECAFS warrants that it has all regulatory approvals,
authorizations, licenses, permits and other permissions, consents and
authorities whatsoever, as needed (a) to offer and enter into the financing
arrangements with Customers contemplated by the Agreement in each jurisdiction
in the United States and to otherwise perform its obligations under the
Agreement, and (b) to use any materials developed, provided or used by GECAFS
in connection with the Agreement.

          (7)  GECAFS warrants that it has the legal and valid right to use
any registered or unregistered trademark, trade name, service mark, logo,
emblem or other proprietary designation, or 

                                      -8-

<PAGE>
 
any variations, derivatives and modifications thereof, used by it in any
materials provided to ABTAC or used by GECAFS in connection with the Agreement.


                             SECTION 11.

                           INDEMNIFICATION
                           ---------------
 
     (A)  ABTAC will defend, indemnify and hold harmless GECAFS and its
affiliates and all of its and their officers, directors, owners, agents,
attorneys, and employees, from and against any and all loss, liability, claims,
damage, cost or expense (including attorneys' fees and costs) by third parties
arising out of any gross negligence or intentional misconduct of ABTAC in
connection with ABTAC's performance of its obligations under this Agreement or
relating to any breach or alleged breach of a third party's proprietary rights
in connection with any intellectual property (except if provided by GECAFS),
used by ABTAC in performance of its obligations under this Agreement.

     (B)  GECAFS will defend, indemnify and hold harmless ABTAC and its
affiliates and all of its and their officers, directors, owners, agents,
attorneys, and employees, from and against any and all loss, liability, claims,
damage, cost or expense (including attorneys' fees and costs) by third parties
arising out of any gross negligence or intentional misconduct of GECAFS in
connection with GECAFS' performance of its obligations under this Agreement or
relating to any claim regarding GECAFS' conduct with respect to any financing
transaction or proposed financing transaction (including Customer claims) in
connection with this Agreement and any breach or alleged breach of any law by
GECAFS relating to consumer financing (unless caused solely by ABTAC) in
connection with this Agreement and the transactions contemplated thereby.

     (C)  The indemnified party must give the indemnifying party prompt
notice of any claims covered by the indemnity of this Agreement.  Each party
will promptly notify the others of any legal or regulatory proceeding or threat
of legal or regulatory proceeding with respect to any matters which are the
subject of this Agreement; provided, however, that the failure to notify will
not afford relief hereunder except to the extent that it results in prejudice.


                             SECTION 12.

                        TERM AND TERMINATION
                        --------------------
 
     (A)  This Agreement will remain in effect for a period of three (3) years
from the date hereof unless terminated by either party upon six months prior
written notice. This Agreement will also terminate if, required by governmental
authority or court of law, but only insofar as this Agreement applies to such
jurisdiction affected. In consideration of the significant investment made by
GECAFS in the implementation of this Agreement, a termination fee in the amount
of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) will be due and payable from ABTAC to GECAFS
in the event that ABTAC terminates this Agreement prior to the first anniversary
hereof, except for cause as set forth

                                      -9-

                     [*] CONFIDENTIAL TREATMENT REQUESTED

<PAGE>
 
below. Notwithstanding the foregoing, such termination fee will be reduced by
$2,000 for each full calendar month during which the volume targets set forth in
Section l(F) are met and, provided further, that no termination penalty will be
incurred in the event that the parties cannot agree in good faith upon the
continued validity of the "competitiveness" standard after six months as set
forth in Section 1(E).

     (B)  If any party will be in breach of any material obligation under
this Agreement and such breach will remain uncured for a period of 30 days
after written notice thereof from the other party (or, if such breach is
curable and requires more than 30 days to cure, if such cure is not commenced
within 30 days and thereafter diligently prosecuted), then the other party may,
by written notice sent, terminate this Agreement 30 days after delivery of such
notice.  Nonpayment of amounts due under this Agreement will be deemed to be a
breach of a material obligation hereunder, but institution of suit for payment
of amounts due under this Agreement will not be deemed to be an automatic
termination hereunder.

     (C)  At any party's option, and upon written notice of exercise of the
option, this Agreement will terminate upon the voluntary or involuntary
bankruptcy or insolvency of a party, the voluntary or involuntary dissolution
or liquidation of a party, the admission in writing by a party of its inability
to pay its debts as they mature, or the assignment by a party for the benefit
of creditors.


                             SECTION 13.

                               NOTICES
                               -------

     All notices or transmissions pursuant to this Agreement, unless
otherwise specified, will be by facsimile transmission, by personal delivery,
or by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the addresses
of the parties set forth in the Preamble to this Agreement or such other
address as any party listed below will specify in writing to the others.


                             SECTION 14.

                 PROVISIONS OF GENERAL APPLICABILITY
                 -----------------------------------
     (A)  Entire Agreement. The Agreement and the exhibits thereto
          ---------------- 
constitute the entire agreement of the parties, and may be amended from time to
time only upon the execution of a written amendment by the parties.

     (B)  Confidentiality.  Both ABTAC and GECAFS have made and will
          ---------------  
continue throughout the term of the Agreement to make available to the other
party confidential and proprietary materials and information ("Proprietary
Information").  Prospectively, each party will advise the other of material and
information that is confidential and/or proprietary.  Proprietary Information
does not include material or information that: (1) are already, or otherwise
become, generally known by third 

                                      -10-

                     [*] CONFIDENTIAL TREATMENT REQUESTED

<PAGE>
 
parties as a result of no act or omission of the receiving party; (2) subsequent
to disclosure hereunder are lawfully received from a third party having the
right to disseminate the information and without restriction on disclosure; (3)
are generally furnished to others by the disclosing party without restriction on
disclosure; (4) were already known by the receiving party prior to receiving
them from the disclosing party and were not received from a third party in
breach of that third party's obligations or confidentiality; or (5) ideas,
concepts, expressions, knowhow, skills and experience possessed by either party
prior to its association with the other party or developed by either party
during its association with the other party without regard to Proprietary
Information.

     Each party will maintain the confidentiality of the other's Proprietary
Information and will not disclose such Proprietary Information without the
written consent of the other party unless legally required by law, rule,
regulation or court order of any applicable jurisdiction; in which case, each
party will before disclosing the Information, (unless prior notice is
prohibited), promptly notify the other of the compelled disclosure.  If a
protective order or other appropriate relief from compelled disclosure is not
obtained before disclosure is due, or if compliance with the provisions of this
section is waived, only that portion of the Information will be furnished which
counsel advises is legally required.  Each party will also keep confidential
the terms of the Agreement.  The confidentiality provisions of the Agreement
will survive the termination of the Agreement.

     (C)  Limitation of Liability.  In no event will either party be liable
          -----------------------
to the other party for any incidental, special, exemplary or consequential
damages, even if advised of the possibility of such damages.

     (D)  Appointment or Assignment.  ABTAC and GECAFS will have the right
          -------------------------
to appoint an affiliate to provide any services to be provided hereunder or to
assign the Agreement to any affiliate at no charge or penalty; provided,
however, that such appointee will agree to be governed by the provisions hereof
with respect to the provision of such services and such assignee assumes the
obligations of its assignor.

     (E)  Waiver.  Neither party will be deemed to be in default of any
          ------
provision of the Agreement or be liable to the other party or to any third
party for any delay, error, failure in performance or interruption of
performance resulting directly or indirectly from causes beyond that party's
reasonable control.  The period of performance will be extended to such extent
as may be appropriate after the cause of the delay has been removed.  If any
excusable delay or failure to perform by a party exceeds 30 days, the other
party will have the right to terminate the Agreement without liability.

     (F)  Severability.  If any provision of the Agreement is declared or
          ------------
found to be illegal, unenforceable or void, then both parties will be relieved
of all obligations arising under such provision, but only to the extent that
such provision is illegal, unenforceable or void; it being the intent and
agreement of the parties that the Agreement will be deemed amended by modifying
such provision to the extent necessary to make it legal and enforceable while
preserving its intent or, if that is not possible, by substituting therefore
another provision that is legal and enforceable and achieves 

                                      -11-

<PAGE>
 
the same objective. Each party agrees that it will perform its obligations
hereunder in accordance with all applicable laws, rules and regulations now or
hereafter in effect.

     (G)  Arbitration.  Any controversy or claim arising out of or relating
          -----------
to the Agreement, or the breach of the same, will be settled through
consultation and negotiation in good faith and a spirit of mutual cooperation. 
However, if those attempts fail, the parties agree that any misunderstandings
or disputes arising from the Agreement will be decided by arbitration which
will be conducted, upon request by either party, in Orange County, California,
before three (3) arbitrators (unless both parties agree on one (1) arbitrator)
designated by the American Arbitration Association (the "AAA"), in accordance
with the terms of the Commercial Arbitration Rules of the AAA, and, to the
maximum extent applicable, the United States Arbitration Act (Title 9 of the
United States Code), or if such Act is not applicable, any substantially
equivalent state law.  The parties further agree that they will share the
expense of the arbitration proceedings equally.  Notwithstanding anything
herein to the contrary, either party may proceed to a court of competent
jurisdiction to obtain injunctive relief at any time.

     (H)  Media Releases.  ABTAC and GECAFS may utilize media releases to
          --------------
publicize their business relationship only with the prior approval of the other
party which will not be unreasonably withheld.  ABTAC and GECAFS will not use
any trade name, service mark or any other information which identifies the
other in sales, marketing and publicity materials without obtaining the prior
written approval of the other.

     (I)  Governing Law.  The Agreement will be governed by and construed in
          -------------
accordance with the laws of the State of California, without regard to conflicts
of law principles.

                                      -12-

<PAGE>
 
     IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties have caused this Agreement to be
executed by their duly authorized officer on the date first above written.

                                   GENERAL ELECTRIC CAPITAL AUTO FINANCIAL
                                   SERVICES, INC.


                                   By:                              
                                      ------------------------------------------
                                   Its:                             
                                       -----------------------------------------

                                   AUTO-BY-TEL ACCEPTANCE CORPORATION


                                   By:  /s/ W. Randolph Ellspermann 
                                      ------------------------------------------
                                   Its:  Chief Operating Officer
                                       -----------------------------------------

                                   AUTO-BY-TEL, CORPORATION, as Guarantor


                                   By:  /s/ Mark W. Lorimer         
                                      ------------------------------------------
                                   Its:  Vice President/General Counsel

                                      -13-

<PAGE>
 
GE CAPITAL                                                     EXHIBIT A
CONSUMER APPLICATION


Consumer application for automobile financing with various fields for 
information.

                                      14




<PAGE>
 
                             Exhibit A: Continued

- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Description                        Length      Type(Alpha/Num)        Required
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Applicants
- ----------

- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Primary First Name *                  10               A          [*]
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Middle Initial*               1                A          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Last Name*                    15(*12)          A          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Date of Birth*                6                N          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Social Security No. *         9                N          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    # of Dependents               2                N          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Telephone Number *            10               N          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Current Address *             19               A/N        [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Current City *                12(*13)          A          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Current State *               2                A          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Current Zip Code *            5                N          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Current Time at Addr. *       2                N          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Previous Address              19               A/N        [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Previous City                 12               A          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Previous State                2                A          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Previous Zip Code             5                N          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Previous Time at Addr.        2                N          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Employer Name*                20               A/N        [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Employment Time *             2                N          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Occupation Code               2                N          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Occupation Description *      20(*15)          A          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Self-Employment Flag *        1                A          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Employer Telephone #*         10               N          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Employer Address *            20               A/N        [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Employer City *               13               A          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Employer State *              2                A          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Employer Zip Code *           5                N          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Gross Income *                6                N          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Gross Income Flag (A,M,W,B)*  1                A          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Other Income *                6                N          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Other Income Flag *           1                A          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Other Income Source *         13               A          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Previous Employer *           20               A          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Previous Employer Phone *     9                N          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Previous Employer Time *      2                N          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
   "    Previous Employer Occupation  15               A          [*]          
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
 *    Denotes Same Specifications for Joint Applicant
[*] = Confidential Treatment              
                                                                  
                                                                  
                                                                  
                                                                  
                                                                  
                                                                  
                                                                  
                                                                  

<PAGE>
 
                             Exhibit A: Continued


<TABLE> 
<CAPTION> 

- -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Description                        Length          Type          Required
- -----------                        ------          ----          --------
                                                (Alpha/Num)              
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Collateral                                                               
- ----------                                                               
                                                                         
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
<S>                                <C>          <C>              <C> 
New, Used, Demo(N/U/D)              1                 A              [*]
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Use (Personal, Business)            1                 A              [*]
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Product (Retail, Flex, Lease)       1                 A              [*]
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Received Date                       6                 N              [*] 
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Received Time                       4                 N              [*]  
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Dealer Number                       5                 N              [*]  
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Dealer Name                        20                 A/N            [*]  
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Dealer Telephone Number            10                 N              [*]  
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Dealer Contact                     11                 A              [*]  
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Vehicle Year                        2                 N              [*]  
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Vehicle Make                        4                 A              [*]  
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Joint Venture Flag (IV)             1                 A              [*]  
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Model Code                          2                 N              [*]  
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Cap Cost                            6                 N              [*]  
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Invoice (MSRP)                      6                 N              [*]  
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Down Payment                        5                 N              [*]  
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Trade-In Amount                     6                 N              [*]  
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Term                                2                 N              [*]  
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Monthly Lease Payment               4                 N              [*]  
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Guar/CoSign (G/C/N)                 1                 N              [*]  
- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
For                                20                 A/N            [*]  
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------
</TABLE>
 

(a-   Cannot Be A Saturday or Sunday  (subject to change ?????)
(b-   Automatically Generated From Lock-Up Table Based On GECAL Dealer Number
(c-   Default to "N"
(d-   Required If Guar/CoSign Field Is "C" or "G"


<PAGE>
 
                                        Exhibit A: Continued


<TABLE> 
<CAPTION> 

- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Description                           Length     Type (Alpha/Num)   Required   
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Applicants continued                                                           
- --------------------                                                           
<S>                                   <C>        <C>                <C>      
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Joint - Relationship                    7              A              [*]      
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                               
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                               
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Residence (O,R,L. M)                    1              A              [*]      
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Landlord/Lien holder                   20              A/N            [*]      
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mortgage/Rent Amount                    5              N              [*]      
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Previous Vehicle (Lease, Purch, None)   1              A              [*]      
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Previous Vehicle Creditor              15              A              [*]      
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                               
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Driver Info (Lines 1 and 2)                                                    
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Driver (Primary, Joint, Other)          1              A              [*]      
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Percentage Use                          3              N              [*]      
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
</TABLE>
 

(e-    Required If Current Address Is 0 or 1 year.
(f-    Default to "N"
(g-    Required If Income Is Input
(h-    Sum of Lines 1 and 2 Must Equal 100%



<PAGE>
 
                                   Exhibit B

                                   Flowchart

                                      [*]


[*] Confidential Treatment

<PAGE>
 
                                   EXHIBIT C

                                      to

                     Financing Inquiry Referral Agreement,
                     dated as of February 1, 1997, between
            General Electric Capital Auto Financial Services, Inc.
                    and Auto-By-Tel Acceptance Corporation
             and Auto-By-Tel, Inc., as Guarantor (the "Agreement")


                             INFORMATION STANDARDS


 .  GECAL will either provide ABT or make available to ABT its unique code sets 
   on a periodic basis as deemed necessary including:
        .  [*]
        .  [*]
        .  Makes
        .  Models
        .  Dealer Information (i.e. ID, name, location)
        .  [*]
        .  others as required

 .  ABT will send all transactions to GECAL in the predefined format utilizing 
   the GECAL code sets.

 .  Conditional data edits (i.e. if field A=1, then field B must=2) will be
   incorporated into the online credit application by ABT. These edits will be
   provided to ABT from GECAL as the detailed design tasks are completed.

 .  The ABT lease calculator will utilize GECAL rates and residuals, but will
   also include a disclaimer to the consumer that the amounts shown (i.e.
   monthly payment) are estimates only.

 .  The [*] query originated by ABT and sent to the GECAL [*] will be based off 
   of GECAL makes, models and body styles


The specifics of these requirements are subject to change as the detailed design
and implementation of the various system components are finalized. Both ABT and
GECAL agree in good faith to implement these and any other requirements as they
are encountered.