Manheim, AutoTrader leader says transparency 'makes everybody a winner'

“Transparency yields trust, and that makes everybody a winner,” says Sandy Schwartz, president of Manheim and AutoTrader Group. Photo credit: JOE WILSSENS

DETROIT -- Data is a powerful tool that, when used correctly, can help dealers stock the right vehicles for their markets and provide transparency that helps auto consumers feel that they paid a fair price, said the president of Manheim and AutoTrader Group.

"Transparency yields trust, and that makes everybody a winner," Sandy Schwartz said at the Automotive News World Congress today. For dealers, "Stocking the right vehicle is extremely important, in my mind, as we go forward."

Schwartz said companies such as Kelley Blue Book and AutoTrader.com, which are AutoTrader Group properties, have powerful data gathering capabilities because much of their business is transacted digitally.

He said the companies own much of the information. However, he said, there are safeguards to how that information is used and protected.

For example, vAuto inc., another AutoTrader property has the ability to gather information about which used vehicles are selling in a dealers' market and for what price. While information about market activity is shared, dealers' individual sales information is not.

"We don't go to one dealer cross the street and say, 'Hey this guy over here is selling this,'" he said.

Schwartz also said he believes that the dealership as a place to buy vehicles is here to stay but will change dramatically. Twenty years from now, there will be fewer salespeople who will engage in less negotiating. He said he is not an advocate of one-price vehicle selling, but he favors prices that are within a $200 to $300 of range of what is considered "fair."

You can reach Arlena Sawyers at asawyers@crain.com



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