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TrueCar Reinvents Itself

Aiming to keep both customers and dealers happy.

by on Dec.18, 2012

TrueCar's Scott Painter has lost a lot of money -- and weight -- while trying to fix the company's problems.

For a businessman, there are few things worse than having to start all over again – unless it involves losing millions of dollars in the process.

But few in the auto industry have had more experience reinventing themselves than Scott Painter, a serial entrepreneur who has repeatedly come up with concepts aimed at rethinking the way cars are sold. Among the companies to his credit are CarsDirect and TrueCar.

The latter website made waves when it began offering U.S. car buyers the sort of deep, insider pricing information that hadn’t previously been made public, including not only data on what dealers really paid for a vehicle but also the lowest prices that customers were getting away with paying.

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Not surprisingly, that didn’t sit well with retailers who accused TrueCar of violating various strict franchising laws.  Notably, states like Texas and Virginia bar so-called “bird-dogging,” or auto brokering, where a third party steps in to help a customer get a better price.


Behind July’s Confusing Sales Figures

Mixed numbers raise both hopes and concerns.

by on Aug.02, 2012

GM is hoping the new Cadillac ATS can help it rebuild some momentum.

Sales of new cars jumped 18% in July despite growing economic certainty. But the numbers also reflected shifts in the market dynamics that had prevailed over the past 12 months as Honda and Toyota reported big sales increases, while General Motors and Ford Motor reported their sales dropped last month and other carmakers began to show signs of distress.

It was a month of conflicting trends, some reports suggesting makers were, on the whole, able to command their highest transaction prices while continuing a year-long cutback in incentives. But there are indications that pattern may not be able to continue much longer.

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Fast-growing South Korean carmakers also saw their sales pace slow as both Hyundai and Kia reported only modest increases for July and the boom in luxury car sales seems to be winding down as BMW, Mercedes-Benz chalked up on modest gains, while Porsche sales slipped 1%.

Industry analysts will be watching closely, in the weeks to come, to see if the market can maintain the momentum it had shown during the first half of the year as sales were unchanged from June with a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate, or SAAR, topping out at 14 million units


Toyota Ups 2011 Prius Pricing

World’s best selling hybrid can now cost more than $30,000.

by on Sep.24, 2010

Prius remains the sales leading hybrid. It is unchanged this year after a revision last year.

Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., has just slightly raised the price of its Prius hybrid in an attempt no doubt to raise revenues as the Japanese Yen remains strong. Year to date the Japanese-produced Prius has posted sales of 91,940 units, down from 93,810 in 2009.

Sales in August 2010, the most recent reporting period, plummeted 35%, as gasoline prices remained relatively low and down significantly from their record $4 a squirt highs in the U.S. Some of the drastic drop in sales was due to the end of the taxpayer subsidized “cash for clunkers” program, which was in effect a year ago.

After ten years of sales in the U.S., the latest generation Prius will now have a Manufactures’ Suggested Retail Price Range (MSRP) of $23,050 for the Prius Two model to $28,320 for the Prius Five model, an increase of $250. MSRP excludes shipping and deliver charges of almost $1,000. The relative restraint used in the increase demonstrates how weak the market remains, as well as Toyota’s tenuous position in it. Nonetheless the increase is worth somewhere between $25 and $50 million in increased revenues at a time when Toyota’s post recall marketing costs remain high.

The Toyota Prius leads the market for hybrid automobiles that it started more than a decade ago. With its 50-MPG fuel economy rating, Prius is the most fuel-efficient passenger car available in the U.S. – a spot once occupied by Honda. Prius’ fuel economy comes in what’s dubbed a 5-passenger midsize car by the EPA. Toyota has sold 880,000 Prius models in the U.S. since 2000.