Tag Archive | "TrueCar"

Former AutoNation Direct Head Joins CU Direct


ONTARIO, CALIF. — CU Direct today announced the appointment of Ron Frey as chief strategy officer of its automotive solutions. He joined the company this month.
Frey will oversee the planning and direction of automotive solutions as it relates to product and market expansion. This includes oversight of existing products, including CUDL, a credit union auto financing platform, and AutoSMART, an online vehicle-shopping site for the credit union industry.

“Ron’s expansive leadership, partnered with strategic planning, has led him to succeed in implementing cutting-edge technology solutions,” stated Tony Boutelle, president and CEO of CU Direct. “We are excited to have him join our team, as we continue to evolve our innovative automotive products to better serve our 1,000 credit unions and more than 12,000 dealer partners.”

Before joining CU Direct, Frey spent 30 years serving in the automotive and credit union industry. His most recent position was chief strategy officer and president of AutoNation Direct. He has also served as CEO of Autoland and COO of TrueCar.

“I am pleased to be joining the CU Direct Team, where I can leverage my background in technology innovation, deep automotive experience and credit union experience,” said Frey. “I look forward to digging in and looking for ways to bring innovation and value to our credit unions and dealer partners.”

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Chase Teams With TrueCar on New Vehicle-Shopping Portal


NEW YORK, NY — Chase announced the launch of Chase Auto Direct, a new online portal powered by TrueCar that will allow Chase customers to shop for a vehicle and secure financing. The portal will then direct buyers to a dealership in the Chase network with inventory that matches the customers’ preferences.

“Customers today are shopping for everything online, including cars,” said Bruce Jackson, head of retail lending for Chase Auto Finance. “By pairing financing with the online car-shopping experience, we can provide more opportunities for Chase dealers, and make it easier for customers to get in the driver’s seat.”

Through Chase’s online portal, customers will be able to configure their preferred options, find matching cars online, and get approved for their loan, the finance source stated. The portal will also integrate technology from TrueCar to allow customers to see what other buyers paid for similar cars.

The portal is also designed to benefit the finance source’s estimated 14,000 dealers by giving them a new source of pre-qualified car buyers.

“This new online offering showcases our dealers’ vehicle inventory to more than 57 million Chase households in the United States. Dealers in the Chase network will now benefit from new leads that they didn’t have yesterday,” Jackson said. “We want every Chase customer to have a good experience when buying a car, and we’re confident that the dealers we do business with can provide that experience.”

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December Auto Sales Soar 9% in Record Year


Automakers posted a solid 9% sales gain in December, an exclamation point that sealed 2015 as the biggest sales year ever for the industry, reported USA Today.

All told, automakers sold 17.47 million new vehicles for the year, Autodata reported, besting the previous record set in 2000 by 68,138 vehicles. Low gas prices, cheap credit, low unemployment, soaring consumer confidence and warm weather fueled a rush into showrooms in December.

“The U.S. economy continues to expand, and the most important factors that drive demand for new vehicles are in place, so we expect to see a second consecutive year of record industry sales in 2016,” said Mustafa Mohatarem, GM’s chief economist, in a statement.

Still, sales success for individual automakers presented a mixed bag. Detroit’s Big 3 fared well for December and the year. General Motors had a 5.7% sales increase in December, Ford Motor saw an 8.3% boost and Fiat Chrysler sales rose 12.6%, according to Autodata. Tesla Motors doubled sales during the month and sold 23,650 of its luxury electric cars in the U.S. for the year, but came in at the low end of its delivery guidance on worldwide deliveries.

Among Asian makers, Toyota saw a 10.3% increase for the month, Honda was at 9.9% and Nissan at 8.7%. But for the full year, they came in lower, with Toyota posting a 5.3% increase compared to the industry average of 5.7%

One laggard was German automaker Volkswagen Group, which still cannot sell diesel vehicles amid an emissions scandal, down 3.4% overall. The automaker’s Volkswagen brand sales fell 9.1% in December and 4.8% for the year. The company’s Audi luxury brand, which has felt a smaller impact from the scandal, achieved a 6% gain in December and 11.1% for the year. Another loser for the month was Hyundai, saddled with a car-heavy lineup during the SUV surge, down 1.5%.

Consumers continued their exodus from less-lucrative cars into crossovers, sport-utility vehicles and pickups amid low gasoline prices.

At 13.9% market share, the small SUV segment is now the largest category of vehicles in the U.S., trailed by small cars and midsize cars at 13.7% apiece, according to Kelley Blue Book.

“There’s no end in sight to those trends,” AutoTrader.com analyst Michelle Krebs said. “You’re going to hear the same broken record next year.”

Crossovers like the Toyota RAV4, the Nissan Rogue and the Jeep Renegade delivered a robust showing in December.

“The segment is in demand with Baby Boomers and Millennials both looking for increased utility. We think this is a long-term trend,” Ford sales analyst Erich Merkle said on a conference call.

Unlike 2000, when automakers were piling on discounts to sell vehicles despite a strong economy, the industry is financially fit and has spurned steep incentives. Average incentives rose 3.9% in December, compared with a year earlier, to $3,063 per vehicle, according to TrueCar.

Toyota division general manager Bill Fay told reporters it was a “standout year,” though he projects sales to “start to level off a bit” in 2016.

Even as crossovers gain, the industry’s stalwart full-size pickup trucks have also flourished, in addition to new midsize pickups.

The Ford F-Series pickup, the most popular vehicle in the U.S., rose 14.6% to 85,211 units in December. Sales were up 3.5% for the year to 780,354.

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AutoNation Posts $146 Q3 Increase in F&I Per-Copy Average


FORD LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Strong performances in all of AutoNation Inc.’s business sectors — particularly the group’s F&I operations, which continued to live above $1,500 per copy during the period — drove record third-quarter results for the nation’s largest dealer group.

While F&I accounted for 4.3% of the company’s $5.1 billion in same-store revenue, F&I generated 27.6%, or $222 million, of AutoNation’s $803 million total same-store gross profit for the quarter. That’s up $26 million over the previous year.

The group’s F&I operations also increased its F&I profit per vehicle unit (PVR) average by $146 from a year ago, with the department averaging $1,549 per copy.

“We are pleased with our new-vehicle PVR performance for the quarter,” said Bill Berman, COO of AutoNation, during the group’s Oct. 28 third-quarter investor call. “We expect a sequential increase in PVRs in the $200 range due to the seasonal mix toward Premium Luxury.”

The company posted total revenue of $5.4 billion, up from $4.9 billion in the year-ago quarter. Net income from continuing operations rose 11% from a year ago to $118.5 million.

New-vehicle sales increased 5% from a year ago to 87,407 units, with gross profit on a per vehicle retail basis staying relatively flat from last year’s $1,877 average.

Used vehicles, however, did not see the same improvement thanks to the open safety recall policy the group announced in early September. It led to a slight 275-unit drop in sales during the quarter, with used-vehicle sales totaling 55,875 units. Gross profit on a per vehicle retail basis decreased 7% from a year ago to $1,509.

“… We set an auto retail industry standard and decided not to sell, lease or wholesale any new or used vehicle that has an open recall,” Berman said. “As of September, 30.6% of our inventory, which represents less than 2% of our new-vehicle inventory and approximately 16% of our used-vehicle inventory, was not available for sale due to open recalls.”

“Our used-vehicle sales were slowed by our recall policy and we expect to see an impact in the fourth quarter as well,” he added.

Officials also commented on AutoNation’s July decision to drop TrueCar as one of its third-party lead providers, with Berman noting that moving away “from less profitable providers” helped offset new-vehicle PVR pressures.

“New-vehicle PVRs from our self-generated sales, including Customer Financial Services, are approximately $800 higher than new vehicle PVRs from third-party sales,” he said.

In the third quarter, the AutoNation Express website generated more than 25% of the company’s unit sales. Sales from third-party lead websites represent less than 9% of the company’s unit sales, officials said.

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AutoNation Posts $146 Q3 Increase in F&I Per-Copy Average


FORD LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Strong performances in all of AutoNation Inc.’s business sectors — particularly the group’s F&I operations, which continued to live above $1,500 per copy during the period — drove record third-quarter results for the nation’s largest dealer group.

While F&I accounted for 4.3% of the company’s $5.1 billion in same-store revenue, F&I generated 27.6%, or $222 million, of AutoNation’s $803 million total same-store gross profit for the quarter. That’s up $26 million over the previous year.

The group’s F&I operations also increased its F&I profit per vehicle unit (PVR) average by $146 from a year ago, with the department averaging $1,549 per copy.

“We are pleased with our new-vehicle PVR performance for the quarter,” said Bill Berman, COO of AutoNation, during the group’s Oct. 28 third-quarter investor call. “We expect a sequential increase in PVRs in the $200 range due to the seasonal mix toward Premium Luxury.”

The company posted total revenue of $5.4 billion, up from $4.9 billion in the year-ago quarter. Net income from continuing operations rose 11% from a year ago to $118.5 million.

New-vehicle sales increased 5% from a year ago to 87,407 units, with gross profit on a per vehicle retail basis staying relatively flat from last year’s $1,877 average.

Used vehicles, however, did not see the same improvement thanks to the open safety recall policy the group announced in early September. It led to a slight 275-unit drop in sales during the quarter, with used-vehicle sales totaling 55,875 units. Gross profit on a per vehicle retail basis decreased 7% from a year ago to $1,509.

“… We set an auto retail industry standard and decided not to sell, lease or wholesale any new or used vehicle that has an open recall,” Berman said. “As of September, 30.6% of our inventory, which represents less than 2% of our new-vehicle inventory and approximately 16% of our used-vehicle inventory, was not available for sale due to open recalls.”

“Our used-vehicle sales were slowed by our recall policy and we expect to see an impact in the fourth quarter as well,” he added.

Officials also commented on AutoNation’s July decision to drop TrueCar as one of its third-party lead providers, with Berman noting that moving away “from less profitable providers” helped offset new-vehicle PVR pressures.

“New-vehicle PVRs from our self-generated sales, including Customer Financial Services, are approximately $800 higher than new vehicle PVRs from third-party sales,” he said.

In the third quarter, the AutoNation Express website generated more than 25% of the company’s unit sales. Sales from third-party lead websites represent less than 9% of the company’s unit sales, officials said.

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Firm Suing TrueCar Files Second Mass Action Lawsuit


MINEOLA, N.Y. — Bellavia Blatt & Crossett filed a second mass action lawsuit against TrueCar on July 30, this time representing 100 dealerships that are currently affiliated with the car-shopping site.

In March, the law firm filed a mass action lawsuit on behalf of 117 — now over 200 — non-affiliated dealerships, alleging that TrueCar’s business practices have injured its former dealer partners and dealers that do not subscribe to the service by “poaching” customers in their market area.

According to the lawsuit filed last week, TrueCar is violating California deceptive practices statutes by claiming to be “transparent” with “no hidden fees” and “no surprises” — when in fact it charges dealers a $299 new-car and $399 used-car transaction fee that gets passed along to the consumer in the price of the vehicle.

“We will be seeking a court order requiring TrueCar to openly disclose in its advertising and on the guaranteed savings certificate that there is a $299/$399 fee participating dealers pay that may affect the selling price of the vehicle,” said Leonard Bellavia, senior partner at Bellavia Blatt & Crossett. “We will also seek a declaration that TrueCar’s business model is illegal in most states, as it is not properly licensed.”

Bellavia added that dealers subscribing to TrueCar are damaged because they do not wish to be complicit in violating consumer fraud statutes. The lawsuit alleges that TrueCar is acting as a car dealer and broker without the proper licenses. And if consumers knew about the fees prior to their dealership visit, the dealer would then be protected from joint liability, Bellavia added.

TrueCar has called the allegations “meritless.”

“In the first case, TrueCar recently filed a motion to dismiss — essentially arguing that all of its promises are simply ‘puffery,’” Bellavia said. “It went so far as to quote a case that held it could lie through its teeth with impunity, as consumers would not take any of the promises seriously.”

The lawsuit is similar to one filed in May by the California New Car Dealer Association, which alleges that TrueCar is not in compliance with certain sections of the California Vehicle Code pertaining to dealer licensing, brokering, advertising and disclosure.

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