New Car Keys Express affiliate program welcomes businesses, consumers nationwide


In pursuit of new partners nationwide, Car Keys Express recently introduced an affiliate program for businesses and consumers.

As part of the new Car Keys Express Affiliate Program, participants can earn commission up to 10 percent for all purchases made using their unique referral link provided by the company.

Each affiliate receives a shareable link for their audience to use that may be shared digitally or through social and print media.

“Creating partnerships with businesses and individuals allows them to market our service and earn commissions in return. The program opens an opportunity to create a significant revenue stream.” Car Keys Express founder and chief executive officer Mark Lanwehr said in a news release.

The company said affiliates can also earn a multi-tier commission for sales made by individuals or businesses they may refer to the new program.

“Since 2008, we've been revolutionizing the key replacement industry with our mobile, discount service,” said Lanwehr. “We grew rapidly by providing consumers an alternative to the time, expense, and hassle of a dealership service appointment.

"The Car Keys Express Affiliate Program is yet another innovation," he went on to say.

Successful affiliates include online and brick-and-mortar retailers, publications, bloggers, social influencers, and podcast hosts. 

To learn more or sign up for the program, visit

DealerSocket chooses former Symantec exec as COO


An executive with vast experience at some familiar names within the personal computing space now is in the automotive arena.

On Thursday, DealerSocket announced that Jose Arcilla has joined the company as chief operating officer.

The company highlighted Arcilla joins DealerSocket from Symantec Corp., and brings more than 20 years of experience leading operations across some of the most recognizable software companies in the world. Throughout his time at Symantec, Blue Coat Systems, Adobe and McAfee, Arcilla led and managed teams handling new accounts, professional services, customer success, customer support, retention and renewals, all of which he is now leading at DealerSocket.

“Jose’s experience in achieving operational excellence and his customer-centric focus make him a perfect fit as our new COO at DealerSocket,” said Sejal Pietrzak, president and chief executive officer of DealerSocket.

“My goal is to delight our customers and help them maximize the return on their investment in our software solutions,” Pietrzak continued. “Jose’s proven track record of over two decades of nurturing a customer-first approach will create an even stronger culture of offering our customers positive and seamless experiences.”

DealerSocket reiterated that its vision is to drive the future of automotive by simplifying the experience for our customers, consumers and partners by offering a suite of products that are seamless and integrated.

“We are constantly devising new ways to streamline our customer engagement lifecycle. This will ensure we will connect with our customers at the right time, with the right resources, and create solutions for our customers the first time, every time,” Arcilla said.

“Our ability to truly differentiate our customer experience allows us to act as our customers’ trusted advisors.  We will reactively, proactively and ultimately predictively engage to help our customers become even more successful,” he went on to say.

Typically robust March new sales might give way to rising used turns later in 2018

CARY, N.C. - 

Three leading automotive analysis outlets are projecting a typical bump in new-vehicle sales usually seen in March. But at least one expert is seeing the potential softening new-model retail sales being a propellant for used-vehicle turns, which already are expected to improve in March.

Edmunds estimated 3.7 million used vehicles will be sold in March; a figure that could produce a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 39.3 million. That projection is up from 3.5 million — or a SAAR of 39.1 million — Edmunds recorded in February.

Edmunds also predicted that 1,597,256 new cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S. in March for an estimated SAAR of 16.9 million. This expectation reflects a 23.2-percent increase in sales from February and a 3.0 percent increase from March of last year.  

Edmunds estimated that the retail SAAR will come in at 13.3 million vehicles in March 2018, with fleet transactions accounting for 21.4 percent of total sales. 

“Healthy first-quarter numbers indicate the industry is on solid ground, but that doesn’t mean we can expect another banner year for new car sales,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds executive director of industry analysis. “Though March tends to be a prognosticator for the year as a whole, if automakers remain disciplined with incentives and further rein in spending, we could potentially see sales start to tumble in the high-volume summer months when shoppers aren’t seeing the deals they are looking for.”

When asked separately by Auto Remarketing about what might happen to the used market if that summertime prediction comes to fruition, Caldwell offered this assessment.

“Used vehicles will likely grow in popularity as new-car substitutes if incentives continue to stagnate and interest rates creep up,” she said. “A large quantity of near-new used vehicles are expected to come into the market that will undoubtedly offer a compelling value message that resonates with discerning new-car shoppers.”

Cox Automotive analysis

New-vehicle sales are expected to rise year-over-year to 1.59 million units in March, resulting in an estimated 16.7 million SAAR, according to a forecast released by Cox Automotive.

“March is the year’s first month that traditionally delivers high volumes, and this March is no exception, with sales expected to increase nearly 300,000 units over February and more than 400,000 units above January,” said Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive.

Chesbrough pointed out that March new-model sales are expected to be up over year-ago levels, although with 28 selling days versus 27 last year, some increase was expected.

“The record for March was set in 2000 when sales reached 1.66 million, or a 17.8 million SAAR. It’s highly unlikely that sales will exceed that level this year, particularly since the market pace has been slowing gradually since the record year in 2016,” Chesbrough added.

Cox Automotive mentioned four other key highlights with its estimated March sales forecast, including:

— In March, new light-vehicle sales, including fleet, are expected to reach 1.59 million units, up 2.6 percent, or 40,000 units, compared to March 2017 and up over 22 percent from last month.

— The SAAR in March 2018 is estimated to be 16.7 million, down from 17 million in February 2018 and equal to the March 2017 pace.

— Fleet sales are expected to account for 22 percent of market sales in March, a similar level to last year.

— After a strong year of 17.1 million units in 2017, a top five all-time finish, Cox Automotive expects 2018 sales to fall 400,000 units and finish near 16.7 million.

Overall, the Cox Automotive Industry Insights team is looking at a number of factors creating headwinds for new-vehicle sales.

First analysts pointed out the Federal Reserve interest rate, which were raised again this past week, are starting to have an effect on the economy; auto loan rates have risen to levels not seen since 2013.

Additionally, while consumer confidence remains very high, Cox Automotive acknowledged recent volatility on Wall Street and political uncertainty in Washington, D.C., have likely negatively impacted vehicle buyer’s confidence.

Perhaps most importantly in Cox Automotive’s estimation, as a result of aggressive leasing strategies in recent years, there are millions of “gently-used” off-lease vehicles available that provide growing competition for the new-vehicle market; similar to the assertion made by Caldwell at Edmunds.

Still, Cox Automotive insisted buying conditions remain very strong, with high consumer confidence and low unemployment. Gradual interest rate increases have been expected and should not cause a large decline in overall market demand. Recent tax reform will add additional support to the vehicle market in 2018.

These factors are supporting Cox Automotive’s 2018 new-vehicle sales forecast of 16.7 million.

“There are some interesting underlying factors that will impact this month’s sales numbers,” Chesbrough said. “Recent history suggests March is the year’s peak month for the cars-to-trucks sales ratio.

“Although car share has been falling quickly, there is some reprieve expected,” he continued. “Asian OEMs follow a fiscal calendar which ends in March. Aggressive sales strategies, as well as recent large volume car launches, should lift some foreign cars more than domestics.”

Rebecca Lindland, executive analyst for Kelley Blue Book, added her perspective, as well.

“We will be watching the pickup truck segment carefully in March, as the new full-size RAM pickup has gone on sale while the new Chevrolet truck has not,” Lindland said. “There is strong brand loyalty in this segment and lots of interest in new product, so it will be telling to see how Chevy manages the transition to the new truck.

“Also, we know Ford is using aggressive incentives to defend their leadership position,” she went on to say.

Analysis from J.D. Power and LMC Automotive

Like the analysts from Edmunds and Cox Automotive, the forecast developed jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive also highlighted how the new vehicle retail sales pace in March is expected to rise from year-ago levels.

J.D. Power and LMC Automotive pegged the new-vehicle SAAR for retail sales to be 13.4 million units, up 200,000 from a year ago. The firms added retail sales are projected to reach 1,275,000 units, a 0.2-percent increase on a selling day adjusted basis compared with March of last year.

“Despite the disruption from inclement weather on the East Coast, the industry is expected to post year-over-year retail sales gains for the first time in 2018,” said Thomas King, senior vice president of the data and analytics division at J.D. Power.

“While this breaks a streak of three consecutive months of decline, the industry is boosted by a quirk in the calendar due to an additional selling weekend,” King continued, while adding that on a national basis, retail sales through the first three weeks of March are up 0.5 percent from last year, but in the Northeast, sales are down 0.5 percent over the same period.

J.D. Power and LMC Automotive pointed out that average incentive spending, however, continues to rise and month-to-date is $3,849, up $74 versus the same period last year. Spending on trucks and SUVs (up $160) is driving the increase while spending on cars is down $54.

The firms highlighted six other metrics from their forecast, including:

— The average new-vehicle retail transaction price month-to-date is $32,129, a record for March, surpassing the previous high of $31,391 set in March 2017.

— Consumers are on pace to spend $41 billion on new vehicles in March, more than $2 billion greater than last year’s level.

— Incentives as a percentage of MSRP are at 10.3 percent so far in March, exceeding the 10 percent level for 20th time in the past 21 months.

— Trucks account for 66 percent of new-vehicle retail sales through March 18 — the highest level ever for the month of March — making it the 21st consecutive month above 60 percent.

— Days to turn, the average number of days a new vehicle sits on a dealer lot before being sold to a retail customer, is 70 through March 18, which is flat versus last year.

—Fleet sales are expected to total 335,300 units in March, down 1.2 percent from March 2017. Fleet volume is expected to account for 21 percent of total light-vehicle sales, which would be flat versus last year.

“Auto sales remain on track for the expected marginal decrease on the retail side of demand for the year,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive. “The shift from cars to SUVs is expected to be more pronounced as we forecast SUVs to pick up 2.5 percentage points of share to 45 percent.

“Risk remains concentrated on NAFTA negotiations and tariffs, though optimism of a NAFTA deal is growing,” Schuster continued. “Interest rates are rising as expected and we are looking for a total of four rate hikes in 2018, a headwind making borrowing more expensive and raising monthly payments.”

LMC’s forecast for 2018 total light-vehicle sales is just under 17.0 million units, a decrease of 1.3 percent from 2017. The retail light-vehicle forecast remains at 13.8 million units, a decline of 1.6 percent from 2017.

Poll: Test drives helping keep shoppers in dealerships

CARY, N.C.  - 

With all the talk lately of buying cars completely online — and an apparent willingness from consumers to take this leap — shoppers low in the sale funnel, or early in their vehicle consideration process, still seem to favor dealerships.

An Autolist survey, the results of which were released in conjunction with the recent NADA Show 2018, found that the majority of consumers aren’t ready to move the entire car-buying process online.

In fact, 66 percent of respondents to the survey — which polled 1,095 car shoppers in March who are in the market for new and used vehicles — said they are “unlikely” or “very unlikely” to purchase a vehicle completely online without ever seeing it in person. 

So what’s keeping consumers coming to dealerships? According to the survey results, that answer is test drives.

In fact, 63 percent of respondents said the primary reason they would visit a dealership was to test drive a vehicle.

And that’s apparently where customer satisfaction with the dealer experience is highest, as well.

On the other hand, one of the least enjoyable parts of visiting a dealership for new-car customers? You guessed it — the financing process.

Interestingly, this ranked even lower than the process of negotiating a vehicle price.

And consumers want to speed up the transaction process, as well. According to the Autolist poll, the part of the buying process that consumers wanted to see improved upon the most was the time it took to complete the transaction.

A third of survey respondents said it was the No. 1 area where dealers could improve.

Consumers also noted dealerships could serve to improve “the helpfulness of their salespeople and the vehicle information provided during the browsing process,” according to Autolist.

Perhaps one element not often thought of in consideration with consumer expectations is dealership size, but according to the Autolist servey, it certainly plays a role.

“While consolidation and corporate groups are quickly overtaking what was largely a family-run business network, buying from a national chain isn’t important to a majority of shoppers,” Autolist analysts reported.

Specifically, 63 percent of respondents said it wasn’t important to them that the store be part of a national chain.



Dominion Dealer Solutions launches Dynamic Reports Portal to spotlight ‘essential dealer data’

NORFOLK, Va.  - 

Dominion Dealer Solutions announced during the recent 2018 NADA show the release of its new Dynamic Reports Portal for direct marketing.

The portal, which is designed to bring more relevant data to dealers, provides access to what the company described in a news release as the “four cornerstones of dealer management system-based marketing data”: service revenue, sales revenue, emails sent and email collection.

Dominion shared it designed the new portal to give clients a “dashboard view” of their data, as well as the ability to dive deeper when needed.

Each of the aforementioned data segments have their own widgets, along with top-level details for different campaigns. Through the main dashboard, dealers can also access detailed reports, view granular statistics and export data directly to their inbox.

“Our goal was to retain all of our previous reporting benefits, but present them to our dealers in a fast, cross-device format,” said Alan Andreu, vice president of product at Dominion.

The interface is based on extensive dealership testing and feedback, and it designed to bring the “essential dealership data” to the forefront.

Dealers can use dashboard reports to drill down to the customer and advisor levels, provide engagement, email collection and success reporting.

The Dynamic Reports Portal is accessible across all device types and is securely accessed via a password-protected log-in.




NIADA roundup: New relationships with DriveItAway, Solera and PGW Auto Glass


With conference season in full swing, the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association continued preparations for its big event this summer by aligning with a trio of service providers aimed at helping operators who do not have a direct connection to an automaker.

DriveItAway, the first company dedicated to equipping dealers with the tools to participate in the explosive growth of mobility as a service and shared mobility services, has joined with the association as NIADA’s latest National Member Benefit partner.

Solera Holdings, a provider of digital technologies that connect and secure cars, homes and identities, has teamed with the NIADA as a Bronze-level National Corporate Partner.

And PGW Auto Glass, one of North America’s largest auto glass distributors, has joined with the NIADA as a new National Member Benefit partner.

While Las Vegas hosted National Automobile Dealer Association festivities this past weekend, all of these moves were made by NIADA as the association continues to prepare for the 2018 NIADA/NABD Convention and Expo at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla., June 18-21. For more information about the 2018 NIADA Convention and Expo or to register, visit or

The event is all about helping dealers advance their businesses, like the relationship with DriveItAway.

Identifying a need for automotive retailers to quickly ramp up their experience and business revenues in the rapidly emerging world of car sharing and subscription services, DriveItAway will offer its turnkey platform to NIADA members in an industry partnership.

DriveItAway said it will provide NIADA members with all the tools to offer a subscription model Car Sharing platform, including self-service software, all insurance coverages and training to allow dealers to quickly and profitably begin to add a cents-per-mile model to the traditional one car sale/one profit scenario.

Every association member using DriveItAway’s turnkey program also can immediately offer the Lyft Your Down Payment program, which provides new Lyft drivers with immediate temporary vehicles to drive at a daily or weekly rate so they can raise money for a down payment to buy the vehicle of their choice — offered by the participating dealership.

“Ride sharing companies such as Lyft are always recruiting, in volume, for new drivers, and many potential new drivers lack vehicles or appropriate vehicles to drive,” DriveItAway founder and chief executive officer John Possumato said. “While there are other temporary rental vehicles available, we have found many current and prospective Ride Share drivers want to own the vehicle they drive and are looking for a path-to-ownership opportunity.

“Conversely, dealers are always looking for new buyer prospects, and many could close more deals if prospects had just a little more cash down with a quick and direct method to raise that money,” Possumato continued.

Possumato insisted DriveItAway’s program “beautifully merges those two needs” by enabling dealers to provide temporary vehicles to new Lyft drivers, who can then come back to the dealership with the cash to buy a vehicle.

“We even throw in a little incentive cash to the drivers to add to their down payment when they achieve a certain number of rides — if they buy a vehicle from that dealership,” Possumato said.

“We are thrilled to kick off this first of its kind program with NIADA, a clear win for dealers by expanding the range of qualified buyers and a testament that NIADA is an organization that best prepares its members for doing business today — and tomorrow,” he went on to say.

NIADA senior vice president of member services Scott Lilja said working with DriveItAway gives NIADA members a new turnkey profit center that also leads to more vehicle sales and expands members’ role in the new Shared Mobility environment.

“This is a win-win-win for our members, their customers and ride sharing companies such as Lyft,” he said. “Plus, entering in the mobility as a service business through DriveItAway gives industry-leading dealerships valuable and profitable experience in that expanding business sector of transportation and comprehensive preparation to enable our members to embrace many future customer-need scenarios.”

Solera joins with NIADA as National Corporate Partner

Solera Holdings, a provider of digital technologies that connect and secure cars, homes and identities, has teamed with NIADA as a Bronze-level National Corporate Partner.

Solera’s offerings manage risk and assets for the digital world of today, creating a digital marketplace that empowers customers to manage the entire life of the vehicle from a single platform.

Solera processes more than 300 million digital transactions annually for some 235,000 partners and customers in nearly 90 countries.

Solera companies include Identifix, which serves more than 250,000 automotive technicians and shop owners in the U.S., Canada and Latin America through its online Direct-Hit system, Virtual Technician Service, Direct Market and Direct-Shop shop management system; and AutoPoint, which can combine marketing strategies, service execution and titling tools to create a single, comprehensive technology platform aimed at transforming the customer experience from end to end.

“Solera is a leader in the insurance claims management, digital marketing, electronic title/registration and vehicle service repair data industries,” Lilja said. “It delivers very innovative, high quality and impactful solutions to assist our member dealers in selling and servicing more vehicles profitably.”

For more information, visit and, and for more on Solera, visit

PGW Auto Glass on board as NIADA National Member Benefit Partner

PGW Auto Glass, one of North America’s largest auto glass distributors, has joined with NIADA as a new National Member Benefit partner.

PGW Auto Glass offers a wide selection of glass repair and replacement products at more than 120 locations, including glass, repair, sundries and replacement support products, as well as distribution service for the automotive industry.

NIADA members will be offered special pricing on auto glass and select supplies through the partnership and will have access to PGW Auto Glass’ e-ordering system and Sundries Help Desk through its call center.

PGW Auto Glass said it also plans to offer exclusive discounts to NIADA members on chip repair kits.

“We are extremely pleased to have the number one glass distributor in the U.S., PGW Auto Glass, come on board as an endorsed NIADA National Member Benefit partner,” Lilja said.

 “With more than 8,000 customers, PGW is a top supplier to all of North America’s national and independent glass installers,” Lilja continued. “This is an immense opportunity for our members to enjoy 100 percent of the profit from glass replacement work versus outsourcing, while enjoying substantial cost benefits in the process.”

Roadster introduces cross-shop enabling e-commerce solution for dealer groups

CARY, N.C. - 

Dealer groups with multiple rooftops can give owners scale for certain efficiencies, but they sometimes present problems for potential buyers.

Roadster is trying to eliminate possible shopping issues so groups can turn metal quicker — and possibly for more gross profit — no matter which dealership might have a vehicle on its lot.

Roadster launched its new Express Marketplace solution for dealer groups in conjunction with NADA Show 2018 in Las Vegas last week. 

Similar to Roadster's Express Storefront e-commerce platform launched in 2016, its new offering can allow dealers to put their entire car-buying process online but is specifically designed to meet the merchandising needs of dealer groups, in particular.

While Express Storefront is tailored for individual stores, Express Marketplace can give car shoppers access to a dealer group's full inventory so they can easily cross-shop across all the brands within a group.

“This allows dealer groups to have a fully commerce-enabled website for their dealer group so that they can pool their marketing dollars and drive efficiency through that site at the dealer group-level. And then have each piece of inventory go to the individual dealership when somebody is ready to transact,” explained Roadster chief marketing officer Michelle Denogean during a phone demo of the new solution for Auto Remarketing led by chief executive officer Andy Moss.

With Express Marketplace, dealers can merchandise all their inventory in one place and provide the same commerce capabilities across each vehicle.

The new platform's deal-building tools can allow customers to desk their own deal, then pick up where they left off on a dealer’s Express Storefront or physical location.

“Instead of being just for store X, Y and Z, this site is really aimed at the group where you can literally have inventory from across all 5, 10 and 30 brands — all in one place,” Moss said.

“This process is actually happening with the individual dealerships, but you’re initiating it from the actual dealer group site, providing a consistent experience across each of their stores that are a part of the dealer group.”

Moss explained that the platform is ideal for dealer groups that have 10 to 30 stores in a specific geographic location and want to offer consumers a modernized retail experience.

“The product is focused on the dealer groups because there's lots of groups that have close proximity to many of their stores and this gives them the opportunity to refocus their advertising efforts on a regional basis at the group level — as opposed to on a store-by-store case,” Moss explained.

“We see a lot of demand for that piece of it.”

Dealer groups can choose to show inventory within a particular area, or expand to reach consumers more broadly.

“It also works pretty well for the independent’s that want to provide commerce capabilities for their full inventory of used cars across all of their locations,” Moss added.

Five key retailing solutions provided by Express Marketplace include:

  • Multiple payment options
  • Easy trade valuation
  • Service and protection plans
  • Optional accessories store
  • Secure credit application

Moss said, “Most dealerships are missing the opportunity to upsell accessories as part of the deal and in a very margin-constrained environment, every dollar makes a difference to whether that deal is profitable or not.”

As customers desk their deal, Express Marketplace can allow dealer groups to introduce them to a range of add-ons that they can purchase as part of their deal without overwhelming them.

“On the service and protection plan side, across the board, we’re hearing that the back-end gross associated with these types of transactions is better,” Moss explained. “It partly is because you get several bites at the apple for presenting products.”

NY’s Paragon Honda Develops Google Assistant App to enhance vehicle service, maintenance for customers


One of Honda’s leading certified pre-owned dealers —  New York’s Paragon Honda — is making moves it says are to keep up with evolving customer expectations.

In partnership with its marketing agency Team Velocity, the dealership worked with Google to develop a service and maintenance app that aims to remove friction from the service bays.

To accomplish the goal of relieving pain points in the service department, the dealership took a three-step approach.  

First, Paragon Honda knew to truly tackle the pain-points involved in vehicle service, they needed to provide a 24-hour service for their clients that can’t afford to not have their vehicle for more than one day. The new service allows customer to request to have his or her vehicle picked up, serviced and returned within 24 hours. This also means the customer doesn’t even have to go into the dealership to get their car serviced.

Secondly, Paragon Honda tested new technology to make it simpler for customers to schedule service and maintenance, becoming the first dealer to build an app for the Google Assistant. Soon, Paragon Honda customers will be able to schedule service such as routine maintenance, oil changes and tire rotations using their voice through Google Assistant.

For example, a Paragon customer can use Google Assistant to connect them to the Paragon Honda app that can then help them book an appointment for a car service.

The third wheel of their effort to improve customer satisfaction in the service bay includes optimizing marketing and measurement. Paragon Honda ramped up its investment in search optimization in an effort to be one of the first results for searches like “Honda oil change” and Honda maintenance” in the New York market. The dealership contributes the strategy to growing its service repair orders by five times in the last 12 months.

 In a recent Think with Google article, Brian Benstock, general manager and vice president of Paragon Honda, said, "Our customers want to live their lives. They don't have the time to drive out to the dealership, drop off their car, and wait for it to be serviced. Technology has changed their expectations, and we knew we needed to change our approach to service and marketing in order to meet those.”

GM more upbeat about used market than a year ago


General Motors president Dan Ammann acknowledged the situation involving overall off-lease volume in the wholesale market and how the automaker and its captive — General Motors Financial — set residual values created some notable stress.

“We were just saying last night that when we were together a year ago, we were quite concerned, but we feel a lot better about it now,” Ammann said during a conversation with industry media after his opening keynote presentation during last week’s Vehicle Finance Conference hosted by the American Financial Services Association.

Ammann then differed to the executive seated next to him inside a marble-clad boardroom at the Bellagio in Las Vegas to elaborate on why GM’s assessment of the used-car market is less concerning now. That colleague was GM Financial president and chief executive officer Dan Berce, who took his turn on stage during a panel discussion later at AFSA’s event.

“Obviously at this time last year, used-car prices were down in the neighborhood of 7 percent year-over-year,” Berce began. “Now more recently, year-over-year stats have been flat. That certainly doesn’t mean that the residual-value matter is behind us because there are still going to be a lot of off-lease vehicles this year and through 2019 before supply starts to flatten out.

“Residual value management is really a joint effort between GM and GMF,” Berce continued. “GM has taken some steps to strengthen residual values with their management of inventory and management of their fleet sales versus retail. Their incentive spend has been favorable to residual values.

“It really starts from the OEM, but from a finance company standpoint, we do all of the remarketing, whether it’s off-lease, company cars, fleet,” Berce went on to say. “We’ve got good technology with the combination of online sales and physical auctions. We have a pretty good optimization model where we can figure out what markets the cars should go to, what the best price point is.”

Of course, after many of those vehicles navigate their way through the remarketing channels, they end up at GM franchised dealerships as certified pre-owned models. And GM has had a robust start to 2018 with its CPO sales.

In January, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC stores turned a total of 27,635 CPO units, according to information compiled and shared by Autodata Corp. That January figure represented an 8.2-percent lift year-over-year.

Then in February, Autodata indicated GM’s certified program registered 29,229 retail sales, marking a 4.5-percent improvement year-over-year.

And also of note, Cadillac CPO sales — which are associated with a separate program — is building off a record year in 2017 when the brand turned 48,245 units. After compiling a 37.9-percent sale jump for all of 2017, the luxury badge has started each of the first two months of 2018 with double-digits gains, according to Autodata.

Likely all of those encouraging trends are why Ammann, Berce and the GM and GM Financial teams are upbeat about the used slice of its broad operations.

“CPO is an important part of the residual value strategy. It’s a vehicle that the consumer prefers in most cases because of reliability and the OEM standing behind it. That’s certainly good from a residual value perspective to have a good CPO program,” Berce said.

As mentioned, Ammann delivered the opening presentation of AFSA’s annual gathering of auto finance leaders. He discussed not only GM’s current state of affairs but also how the automaker is part of the industry-wide advancement in technology with the end goal being autonomous vehicles. For example, in just a few months, GM plans to release a vehicle designed without a steering wheel.

James Treece of Automotive News asked Ammann about how GM is handling the conundrum of consumers often waiting for at least the second generation of a technologically advanced vehicle before taking delivery and how that condition might impact leasing and eventually the certified prospects for the first iteration of a model.

“That’s a very good question,” Ammann began. “One of the big changes that’s happening right now is how cars are upgradable and technology is upgradable. We will be adding features over time.

“We’ve gone from this historical mindset that’s perfectly logical that you buy a car and it depreciates, to now you buy a car and it can get better over time, more features, more capability with updates,” he continued. “That’s a very significant change and arguably could have a very positive effect on residuals and CPO.”

PNC Bank, TrueCar team up to offer new digital auto ‘shopping experience’


PNC Bank and TrueCar have teamed up to offer consumers a new digital auto shopping experience.

PNC Total Auto, powered by TrueCar, was launched Tuesday, a tool which the companies shared lets auto shoppers “browse, borrow, buy in three easy steps.”

The end-to-end digital car buying experience is designed to help consumers better understand how much a car will cost before they go to the dealership — ending up more confident in completing their vehicle purchase when they get to the showroom.

Shoppers can use the tool on their computers, tablets or mobile devices to shop for cars from their local dealers, as well as narrow their search by feature and price.

They can also apply for financing, and if approved, receive a check to bring into the dealer the very next day.

"We recognize that the negotiating and car buying process can be stressful," said Lakhbir Lamba, head of retail lending products at PNC Bank. "PNC Total Auto better prepares customers to make informed shopping and purchasing decisions by providing a fair, comparable price and a simplified process."

The new digital auto shopping platform combines TrueCar search and pricing with PNC's "Check Ready" program.

Through Check Ready, if a customer’s application is approved, they are authorized to purchase a car for up to a certain amount, PNC explained. But the check doesn’t include a final price or a dealer name, which gives the shopper flexibility to shop around.

The Check Ready program can be used for contracts between $7,500 to $50,000 on vehicles 8 years old or newer. PNC shared they can assist customers with auto loans larger than $50,000 through other products.