This week’s Ur-Turn comes from David Ruggles, a noted industry figure, prolific TTAC commenter and author of the Autos and Economics blog.
In my 44 years in the auto industry there have been a couple of continuing themes I have observed. First, there is never ending change. Second, consumers are uncomfortable with the negotiating process required when buying a vehicle. These days vendors to auto dealers are trying to sell dealers on the concept that “transparency” is the key to success in selling cars.
The United States Federal Trade Commission has launched an investigation into whether car dealers colluded against the online car shopping site, TrueCar, over price competition the site encouraged. Automotive News is reporting that a number of car dealers, including the Kelly Automotive Group in the Boston area, received letters from the FTC saying that the agency is looking into whether companies in the “retail automobile industry” committed anticompetitive acts “by agreeing to refuse to deal with TrueCar” during 2001 and 2012.
Google’s autonomous car program tends to get the lion’s share of attention when discussing the tech giant’s auto initiatives. But lurking in the background is a more immediate project that has the potential to finally “disrupt” (as Silicon Valley types are so fond of saying) online automotive sales.
Driven by a rebounding economy and an after-Sandy pop, auto sales in November will be be “highest since February 2008,” expects Jesse Toprak, senior analyst at TrueCar.com. Sales chiefs at major automakers agree. (Read More…)
In a world where many alleged car buying services are little more than bounty hunters that feed willing buyers to the sharks, TrueCar stood out for truly identifying dealers with the lowest price. This is about to change. Earlier in the year, one of the dearest wishes of some car dealers and OEMs nearly came true: TrueCar, the Santa Monica company that empowered customers by giving them heretofore top-secret pricing information, was under fire from OEMs, dealers, and state regulators. Losing thousands of dealers in a matter of weeks, the company nearly went out of business.
“It was a near death experience, absolutely. The company almost died,” says Scott Painter, TrueCar’s CEO in an interview with Thetruthaboutcars. (Read More…)
According to TrueCar’s sales-weighted rankings, Hyundai continues to put the most automobiles with the lowest fuel consumption on America’s roads – even after Hyundai and Kia had to restate their EPA window stickers, and had to give money back to customers. (Read More…)
TrueCar, Kelley Blue Book, and Edmunds have submitted their sales projections for October. They agree (as far as they supply numbers) that the market should be up by more than ten percent in October, that Ford and GM will underperform, that Chrysler will continue to be strong, and that Volkswagen and Toyota will continue delivering stellar growth numbers. (Read More…)
Producing the most fuel-sipping cars will have no impact on environment or oil reserves unless people buy those cars and carmakers sell them. This should be a truism, but too often it is ignored. Some cars are built with green halos, but with little regard for marketability. Who’s cars really are the greenest? (Read More…)
Cars are like fruits and vegetables: They sell better fresh. Of course, even the freshest dud remains a dud. But all else being equal, those with a fresher line-up outsell those with aged product. TrueCar has put together an interesting table: What are the proportions of model year 2011 (yes, they are still on the lots), 2012, and 2013 in a brand’s sales? (Read More…)
Car-shopping service TrueCar allegedly is getting disenchanted with its partner Yahoo. In January, TrueCar became Yahoo’s exclusive auto-shopping partner, for a fee. Automotive News [sub] says the price was $50 million per year over three years. AN also says that TrueCar ended that deal. (Read More…)
Throughout the history of the automobile in America, one city has been synonymous with the industry and culture of cars. Booming with America’s great period of industrialization, Detroit became the Motor City, the hometown of an industry that created a blue-collar middle class and a culture based on personal mobility. But as America has entered the post-industrial age, as the focus of our economy has shifted from production to consumption, Detroit has been left behind. Long used to defining consumer tastes, Detroit was caught unawares by the changes wrought by globalization and the rise of information technology. And as America’s traditional auto industry struggles to redefine itself in the new economy, another Motor City is rising to meet the challenges of a new age.
There are automakers that treat you like a moron. They sell you a fuel saving package that costs so much and/or saves so little that you won’t see the savings until you and the car are ancient. As some comments will surely prove, there are people who like to be treated as morons. For those, some alleged fuel saving packages serve a purpose. Some like to be insulted, whipped and charged $800 by a dominatrix, others prefer the same treatment from a dealer. Nothing wrong with it amongst consenting adults. (Read More…)