Announced at the recent Auto Remarketing Canada Conference in Toronto, CarProof, the event’s lead sponsor, will be heading up “The Transparency Advantage,” or TTA, an industry think tank committed to innovation and forward movement in the automotive market.

The organization and its members will work together to examine the current state of the industry, identify opportunities, commission studies and share research that will work to unite the industry around the next phase in transparency, and ultimately, help dealers buy and sell more cars, CarProof explained.

The $1 million research fund will be sponsored, funded and resourced by CarProof, said the company’s new president and chief executive officer Ed Woiteshek, but the think tank will not be specific to the vehicle history report market and will be heavily guided by its founding and participating members.

Woiteshek took on the position of president and CEO at CarProof last fall after founder and former CEO Paul Antony stepped into the role of chairman.

As the new CEO of CarProof, he was tasked with a strong mandate from the company’s board of directors and founders to “build out a strategic innovation platform” — and the investment in the new industry think tank is part of that platform.

“Transparency throughout the used-car buying and selling process is critical for the future success of our industry. We have come a long way the last 10 years and have the opportunity to take it to the next level,” Woiteshek said.

This new initiative is just one of many new developments from CarProof, as the company also announced at the conference that it will expand into the U.S., with plans to release more details about this development at a later date.

Taking a look at the inspiration for “The Transparency Advantage,” Woiteshek pointed out that most companies and industries only participate in forward thinking and planning two to three years out at best, and it is often very company-specific.

“The mission of TTA is to come up with innovations for the next generation of transparency to make the car buying experience fun again,” Woiteshek said, for the wholesale and retail markets.

He contends the industry needs to be thinking ahead five to 10 years, and with most in the automotive business very busy in their day-to-day jobs, it can be hard to find time to do so without a concerted, collaborative industry effort such as the TTA.

As aforementioned, the company-specific nature of many similar projects don’t often end up benefitting the industry as a whole.

“We want forward thinkers to check their company specific biases at the door and think like the ‘CEO of the Industry’ in a completely unconstrained, free flowing way,” Woiteshek explained.

As for the thinking behind the move, keeping up with the times is key, as well as changing perception of the used-car industry.

“When consumer problems exist, disruption becomes present,” said Woiteshek. “The consumer problem in our industry is that the used car buying process is still not fun for consumers … it is not a bold prediction to say that in 10 years in some form this problem will get solved.”

Developments in technology, such as virtual transactions, are coming our way, and fast, said Woiteshek, and “innovation is no longer a choice. It is a requirement.”

The new think tank, and its 1,000 participating members, will dedicate time and money to gather some of the ideas of top experts in the industry, focusing on how to transform the automotive business to evolve and profit in the future.

“It won’t ask questions like, 'Is full transparency coming? It will assume that is inevitable and ask questions, such as 'How should a dealer operate in a fully transparent world to make money? What are the key steps to building a killer consumer experience?'" Woiteshek explained.

Though CarProof is branching out to many aspects of the remarketing industry, including the valuation and reconditioning markets, the company’s foundation is vehicle history reports, which by nature, work to increase transparency.

“Our mission statement has always been to help create trust and transparency in the automobile industry.  We are passionate about this cause and investing to innovate on it,” said Woiteshek.

He also pointed out the company does well when the industry does well, and the think tank will also help give CarProof — and other members of TTA — ideas on where they should allocate product resources over the next five years.  

“We believe that as virtual transactions gain traction the next five to 10 years, there will need to be a step function change in transparency.  But what that exactly means is to be decides.  Let’s define the path together!" Woiteshek concluded.