Car buyers can get invoice prices, loan rates on iPhone

Don't be surprised if some customer reaches for an iPhone while negotiating to buy a car.

Cartopia, a new iPhone application from insurer Nationwide Corp., not only provides customers with dealer invoice prices, it also offers them access to auto loan rate quotes from Nationwide Bank, Nationwide's 3-year-old online consumer bank.

The data are available in plenty of other formats, but it's new and different to have them all in one place and accessible in a hand-held device that shoppers can take to the dealership.

Advertising blitz

Cartopia has been around for a few months, but Nationwide just started promoting it in April in a TV ad campaign. The spots feature Nationwide's hyperactive, slightly annoying but "on your side" character "the World's Greatest Spokesperson in the World."

Sue McManus, associate vice president of interactive marketing for Nationwide, said there are a few other car-shopping apps on the market, but only a few.

"When we launched Cartopia in December, there were very few car shopping-related apps out there, and none of them has as many tools and functionality and content as our app," she said.

For example, the AOL Autos Web site and Car and Driver magazine offer apps that provide car-shopping advice.


Cartopia uses the customer's Apple iPhone or iTouch to provide a lot of data, including invoice prices and trade-in values from IntelliChoice, a vehicle history from Experian, and cost of ownership estimates.

What does Nationwide get out of it? Besides giving out auto loan rate quotes from Nationwide Bank, Cartopia also makes it easy for the customer to contact a Nationwide agent for a quote on auto insurance.

Nationwide launched its first custom app, Nationwide Mobile, last year. In case of an accident, it walks customers through a checklist of things you should do in an auto accident.

Nationwide says it has had more than 50,000 free downloads of the Cartopia app.

"We want people when they're thinking about buying a car to think about their auto loan plus your auto insurance," McManus said. "Both of those are very important."

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