DETROIT -- Vowing to build a better relationship with car dealers, TrueCar CEO Scott Painter showed an early version of a new mobile app at the Automotive News World Congress that he said will help automakers target customers more efficiently.
The app, aimed at millennial customers, can collect data that will allow automakers to target customers by profile, activity and location “nearly a dozen different ways,” Painter said Tuesday. It can also help predict who is going to buy a new car, what they may buy, where they’ll buy it and when.
“TrueCar enables you to hyper-target your individual consumer, customizing incentives for each of them, based on their individual needs, affiliations, financing, even the cars in their garage,” he said.
It’s part of the $150 million Painter said TrueCar will invest in developing new products this year.
TrueCar also said it plans to spend $100 million on consumer advertising this year to tout the app and its brand, and has hired actor Owen Wilson, the voice of Lightning McQueen in Disney’s “Cars” movies, to serve as the voice of its TV, radio and Internet advertisements.
The car-buying platform is taking a growing role within the industry as it steadies itself following backlash from dealers, who protested the company’s early television ads in 2011 that emphasized TrueCar’s role in getting consumers the best possible price. Critics argued that the company’s business model would spur a “race to the bottom,” as dealers undercut their prices.
The company changed its strategy, accentuating in its marketing and message to dealers that the business model aimed to bring new customers into dealerships, not reduce dealer profits.
With 5 million unique visitors monthly, TrueCar reports that sales through its channels, including its affinity partners, constitute 4 percent of all new-vehicle sales in the U.S. It expects to expand its dealer network to 10,000 within the coming weeks.
TrueCar went public in May, reporting $56.8 million in revenue for the third quarter.