NEW YORK (AP) _ Ford Motor Co. and Microsoft Corp. will collaborate on a joint venture enabling the automaker to build cars according to orders taken online, The Wall Street Journal reported today.

Microsoft's CarPoint Web site will be able to sell cars directly to consumers and continue to send sales leads to dealers, the newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the deal expected to be unveiled in San Francisco today by both companies.

Ford will be able to match a customer's order with cars in dealer lots, in distribution centers or even on factory floors. Sales still would be finalized through franchised dealers.

The site would compete with direct-sell sites such as CarsDirect.com.

Ford will take a minority stake in the joint venture with CarPoint and will be Microsoft's lead partner, the Journal reported. Microsoft expects other auto makers, such as Honda Motor Co., to become involved.

Automakers are seeking ties with technology companies to streamline distribution systems, reduce costs and inventories and gain access to online consumers.