Starting in September, dealers will be allowed to post used vehicles on AutoTrader.com with Experian Automotive's AutoCheck vehicle history reports in addition to reports from Carfax Inc.
The agreement between AutoTrader.com and Experian is being hailed as a victory for dealers who are angry about Carfax's perceived stranglehold on vehicle history reporting.
Carfax and AutoTrader.com have a marketing agreement that requires dealers to use Carfax vehicle history reports if they include such a report with their used-vehicle listings.
Experian's agreement with AutoTrader.com comes a month after the owners of 120 auto dealerships filed a federal lawsuit against Carfax alleging that Carfax engages in anti-competitive practices and violates antitrust laws. The suit seeks damages of more than $50 million.
Carfax did not respond to requests for comment. No other company besides Carfax is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
"It's great news; it's a victory for the industry that AutoTrader.com is now allowing dealers to choose which vehicle history report company they want to do business with," says Jeremy Alicandri, vice president of corporate development at Habberstad Auto Group, in Huntington Station, N.Y. His dealerships are among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Carfax.
"This should lead to more competition between Carfax and AutoCheck to deliver a better product to dealers. It's that simple."
Carfax, by making itself the brand consumers know through aggressive advertising, has become the dominant player in used-vehicle history reports. Exclusivity deals with third-party classified sites, such as AutoTrader.com, strengthened its position.
David Pyle, senior vice president of dealer sales at AutoTrader.com, would not explain how Experian will be allowed to have its vehicle history reports posted on AutoTrader.com, given the site's exclusivity deal with Carfax.
The companies say the September start date will give them time to work out business and technical matters. More than 20,000 dealerships list vehicles on AutoTrader.com; about 61 percent are franchised dealerships.
Pyle says the agreement with Experian is the result of listening to dealers who are its customers.
"They told us they want some choice and to have the ability to have another provider," Pyle says. "We have had a relationship with Experian for quite a while so this is something that has been in discussion for some time.
"It stems from our customers' desire to have multiple choices with providers."
John Gray, president of Experian, says September will be the first time in recent history that its vehicle reports will be included in AutoTrader.com listings. More than 12,000 dealerships subscribe to AutoCheck, Gray says.
"We've been advocating dealer choice for years," Gray says. "We provide dealers a quality product with robust, rich data and a strong service organization to support it."