Crowdsourcing New Car Pricing

TrueCar - Find Out What Others Really Paid

TrueCar - Find Out What Others Really Paid

Wouldn’t you like to know exactly what others have recently paid for the new car you are thinking of buying?

You no longer have to wonder with the new TrueCar pricing service.  TrueCar is a spin-off from Zag.com and opened for business in April.  Zag.com and TrueCar are founded by Scott Painter, a serial entrepreneur who was also part of CarsDirect and PriceLock.com.  The parent company, Zag.com, provides a white label platform for auto retailing to companies like USAA, American Express, CapitalOne and Overstock.com, and their mission is to make the automotive retailing experience better for both the consumer and dealer.

Ok, TrueCar is not actually crowdsourcing new car pricing in the literal sense.  But they are collecting and analyzing data on individual new car sales from over 30% of all transactions taking place in the US.  In a sense, TrueCar is bringing social media openness and transparency to the process of purchasing a new car by leveraging the power of crowds to transform pricing practices that formerly favored the auto dealers.  The TrueCar pricing service provides consumers with the power of real information to transform the new car buying experience and minimize the stress involved with buying a new car while shortening the purchase cycle for automobile dealers.  Essentially, the no-haggle, upfront pricing is a win-win proposition for consumers and dealers.

TrueCar has a very intuitive and easy-to-use interface.  You start out by selecting a make of auto and inputting your zip code.  Then, you select the specific model, style and options.  TrueCar then provides you with a very good-looking and graphical set of reports showing a curve of what others paid, a bar chart, details of specific prices paid, price history over the last 6 months, vehicle pricing table and cost breakdown.

Being involved with business intelligence and reporting for much of my career, I am very impressed with how TrueCar is serving up their price reports.  Until you have a chance to check it out for yourself, here is an example of the Details report which shows the actual number of purchases in my local area over the last 4 weeks.

TrueCar New Car Pricing Details for 2010 Toyota Prius

TrueCar New Car Pricing Details for 2010 Toyota Prius

So, how reliable is the information from TrueCar?  Here is what they say about the pricing on their website:

The TrueCar Price Reports are backed by data and rigorous statistical analysis. Today, we collect extensive sales data on more than 30% of all new vehicles sold. All data shown on the site is less than 4 weeks old. TrueCar does not manipulate the raw data, nor do we interpret it. TrueCar has no hidden agenda, is not beholden to anyone, and nothing is holding us back from reporting the facts. It is TrueCar’s goal to equally serve consumers and dealers.

And how does TrueCar’s price analysis differ from other pricing services like Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds?  The primary difference is that the other services use opinions of what the price should be instead of actual prices paid recently.

Finally, as CEO Scott Painter said in an article in Wired in April:

We’re transforming the market.  Those dealers not willing to give an upfront price are going to go out of business.

TrueCar is offered both online, and by phone at 1-888-TRUECAR, all free of charge.

Here are some related links to check out.