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Providing price quotes to online auto shoppers (and the auto ecosystem of lead providers and OEMs) has been a tough business for third-party auto sites. It involves a lot of interaction with thousands of individual dealerships.

But Cobalt’s Dealix has jumped into the fray, and is now using its relationship with thousands of new car dealers to provide the service to all three of the leading consumer portals — MSN Autos, which has 4.1 million shoppers; AOL Autos, which has 5.8 million shoppers; and as of this week, Yahoo Autos as well. Yahoo leads the portals with 7 million shoppers.

For a site like Yahoo, it makes sense to outsource its quotes to a company that already has relationships with dealers and can focus on providing quotes, most likely at a far more efficient price since it has the volume with the other sides. Previously, Yahoo gathered the quotes on it own and used a weekly auction to distribute its quotes to lead providers and OEMS.

“Dealix has a national sales force and we do the best job of aggregating and sourcing the demand,” notes EVP Anna Zornosa. “We were able to give all these players superior economics by representing their leads for them rather than having them work with someone else (as AOL and MSN were doing with Autobytel and AutoUSA, respectively) or in-house.”

Dealix has a rich stake of its own. It can now guarantee the three big portals to dealers buying leads from the company. And it does so on a pay-for-performance basis — a big differentiator from the subscription-based model used by market leaders and

In addition to powering new car quotes, Dealix has been expanding the distribution for its used cars listings, this week adding The Trusted Marketplace, Kelley Blue Book’s new classifieds site for used cars (KBB). Between KBB’s unique visitors, Dealix’s own and 30 other affiliate sites, Dealix says its used car leads are now viewed by 17 million car shoppers. Dealix represents the inventory of 2,000 dealers.

“Large networks like Dealix will help KBB get the inventory that’s going to go on the site,” says Zornosa, who adds that KBB will have 1 million cars on its site when it launches.

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