FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- By year end, AutoNation Inc. will use TrueCar Inc. again at all of its dealerships, closing the chapter on a bitter dispute that had the nation's largest new-car retailer dumping the third-party lead provider in July 2015.
"It's a great partnership," AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson said. "We're in full agreement and alignment on all the issues."
With new TrueCar leadership in place, AutoNation decided to crack open the door to using the service again. It launched a pilot program in late April, adopting TrueCar at 55 stores. That pilot, which was expanded in July to 78 stores, was a "complete success," Jackson said. AutoNation is rolling TrueCar out to the rest of its 270 dealerships over the next two months.
Jackson credited TrueCar CEO Chip Perry's leadership for the restored relationship. The split came after AutoNation refused TrueCar's data-sharing demands. After TrueCar founder and then-CEO Scott Painter stepped down, new CEO Perry said TrueCar would dismantle many of the practices that upset dealers, including the data-sharing demands.
At the time of the split, AutoNation also complained it was being overcharged. Now the cost has come down "significantly," Jackson said.
AutoNation still will rely primarily on traffic generated by its own brand and websites. AutoNation websites are generating 30 percent of sales, Jackson said, with sales from third-party providers at less than 10 percent.