Chrysler, TrueCar offer discounts after crashes

Marketing targets those in need of new car now

Dominique: The extra incentive is good business.

DETROIT -- Chrysler Group has agreed with TrueCar Inc. to offer discounts to car shoppers whose vehicles are totaled in crashes.

TrueCar's marketing program with Chrysler includes auto insurer Geico, said Larry Dominique, executive vice president of TrueCar. He is recruiting other automakers and insurers to join.

Chrysler confirmed last week that it is offering a $1,000 cash rebate.

The program puts a discount from Chrysler and potentially other automakers in front of customers very early in their shopping.

Each month, about 100,000 U.S. vehicle owners suffer crashes that are total insurance losses, said Dominique. Most need replacement vehicles right away.

Under the program, insurers such as Geico are training service representatives to tell customers that Chrysler will offer discounts to clients who buy or lease a car, Dominique said.

Geico has 24,000 customers a month who suffer total-loss crashes, he said.

The Chrysler discount fits a pattern in which various carmakers commonly offer targeted incentives to members of large associations, such as Geico and USAA, Dominique said.

About half of the 400,000 cars sold last year to TrueCar users by participating dealers were to members of these so-called affinity partners. TrueCar has about 8,000 participating dealer franchisees.

Dominique said the extra incentive provided by Chrysler to total-loss drivers is good business that also helps shoppers in need.

"We believe other carmakers will embrace the concept," he said during a visit to Automotive News offices here last week.

Also last week, TrueCar announced a new mobile app that allows car shoppers to take photos of their used vehicles and seek offers from one or more participating dealers, said Dominique. The app also asks sellers to fill out a short questionnaire about the vehicle's condition.

The app, known as "Sell My Car," takes nationwide a program that TrueCar has been testing for months with USAA, the giant financial and insurance services company for military personnel and veterans.

About 400 trade-ins a month have been sold by USAA members to nearly 600 TrueCar dealerships that are testing the program, Dominique said. USAA, which owns more than 20 percent of TrueCar, has about 10 million members.

Dominique said TrueCar will roll out the program to its other dealerships in the coming months.

You can reach David Barkholz at -- Follow David on Twitter: @barkholzatan

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