It takes time to purchase a vehicle. The car buyer has to do their due diligence, which usually requires countless Internet searches, usually by car brand—make and model—and comparisons between those under consideration, and those typically involve a look at available features and specs. After the consumer narrows down his or her search to the right vehicles, she has to visit a few car lots, take a few for a test drive, discover that the car she wants isn’t available in her favorite color at the car lot closest to her home, and fill out endless reams of paperwork to apply for a loan. Then she has to wait for approval for a loan and delivery of her vehicle so she can drive it home. Depending on how many added features she orders, the process could take several hours over the course of a few days and weeks.
Thanks to the creative folks at AutoGravity, there is now a mobile app that makes the entire process easier and more streamlined.
What is AutoGravity?
AutoGravity is marketplace lending for car finance. The mobile app, available at the Apple store and Google Play, brings car shoppers together with dealers and financing companies to help consumers get the car they want at the dealer they want under the terms they want.
CEO Andy Hinrichs has 20 years experience in the automotive industry and auto financing on three different continents—Europe, Asia, and the US. Martin Prescher, the chief technical officer, has a Ph.D. in machine learning and astrophysics. Serge Vartanov is the chief marketing officer. These men and their team are the brain and muscle behind this mobile app revolutionizing auto financing.
AutoGravity introduced its first app for iOS last June and the app for Android following in July. A web-based version of the platform rolled out in August. Since then, they’ve seen more than 100,000 downloads and expect to hit a million by the end of this year. They’ve also made the top 100 finance apps on the Google Play list.
Year-to-date, the company has secured $50 million in funding, some of that coming from Daimler.
How People Buy Cars With AutoGravity
“Folks have a monthly budget for a car and go to a dealer to fit that budget,” said Vartanov. “So we built a proprietary database of dealers and show users all the dealers close to them.”
AutoGravity users can see each dealer on a map inside their smartphones or see a list with travel distances. They call the dealer with a simple click and view the available inventory of cars on the lot.
“We’re the digital glue between the driver and the dealer,” Vartanov said.
Once a user finds the car they want at the dealer they want, they can then submit a credit application on their phone and be pre-approved before they visit the dealer. They can pull in their personal information by scanning the back of their drivers license or linking to their LinkedIn profile. They then provide their social security number and hit “Submit.”
Vartanov said users can see up to four offers from four different lenders and apply for financing at any time from any location in 48 states.
For dealers, AutoGravity offers an API to facilitate financing through the marketplace right on their website. The user sees a widget that allows them to create an application.
On the lending side, AutoGravity works with lenders are the various stages of the lending process, from new loans to adding new vehicles to an account, refinancing, and leasing.
Following the Money
Since the app is free to download and use for auto consumers, AutoGravity has to make its money somehow. They receive compensation from dealers and lenders for the business they send through the marketplace.
“We generate healthy traffic for our lender and dealer partners,” Vartanov said.
It’s important, with so many moving parts, to ensure that car buyers and loan applicants are sent to the right dealers and lenders. All of that is taken care of by the machine learning programming inside the app. As car buyers search for vehicles and loans, the app learns their preferences.
“We learn what cars people click on, where they shop, and what their budget is, and we’re able to match users with the right deals,” Prescher said. “We optimize the user experience to find the right dealer and lender.”
Vartanov said more than half their users are millennials. Three quarters of them look at different cars and compare them before applying for financing. While they can offer new and used vehicles, most of the traffic they get is for used vehicles.
How AutoGravity Makes It Easier for Car Dealers
As if any of that isn’t enough, AutoGravity offers two white label products. The Fletcher Jones Auto Group, the largest Mercedes-Benz dealership, and Audi both have their own apps where their customers can shop for vehicles and get financing. Loyal Mercedes-Benz customers can go through all the steps in the Fletcher Jones app to get the car they want at the dealer they want under the financing terms that fit their budget. AutoGravity is looking for other dealer partnerships to round out this aspect of their business.
“Nobody else in the ecosystem that offers end-to-end car shopping can do this,” Vartanov said.
Prescher said people do not accept opaqueness as a part of the car buying process. They want transparency and ease of access, both of which AutoGravity provides. In the future, the company wants to offer more functionality inside the app to continue their mission of optimizing the car shopping experience and to make it more comprehensive. That might include electronic contracts, and more.
AutoGravity updates its platform every two weeks.