Innovation is in Aaron Krane's blood.
Krane, who founded digital car-buying platform Drive Motors for dealership websites, has deep roots in the industry.
His grandfather was a physicist at Ford Motor Co. from 1964 to 1999, where he was stationed in the automaker's science laboratory. Krane said his grandfather worked on battery technologies.
Now Krane is continuing on that path of automotive innovation. Krane's Drive Motors is part of a growing contingent of upstart companies reshaping the industry by taking the retail experience to the Web for consumers who've grown accustomed to e-commerce.
This drive to create an intuitive, Amazon-like experience for car shoppers has led to a digitized F&I process in which consumers can research product offerings on their own time — a far cry from the in-store experience in which buyers may feel pressured to make a decision.
Drive Motors presents F&I options via menus on dealership sites through its online checkout platform. Fellow digital retail platform Roadster offers similar capabilities with its Express Storefront tool.
In addition, F&I app and Web platform AutoGravity enables consumers to shop around for vehicle financing and get a sense of what their monthly payments will be. Finance arms such as Hyundai Capital America see value in the app, which has been downloaded more than 700,000 times since being launched during the summer of 2016. Hyundai began making financing available on the app in September to California consumers looking for a Genesis, Hyundai or Kia model.
Should these companies be feared as dangerous disrupters in the F&I world?
Krane said F&I managers shouldn't fret. Just look at the profit potential.
Some Drive Motors dealership clients, he says, have reported an increase in F&I profits of up to $700 per vehicle on average thanks to the online presentation of these products.
Krane said the disruption will occur in the digital ecosystem.
"We are a disrupter to third-party websites such as TrueCar or Autotrader because we give innovation to the dealerships. We allow them to get the trust back that third-party sites have captured and capitalized for themselves," Krane told Automotive News. "If the F&I store happens to be a [Drive Motors] customer, they will love us because they will generate profitable orders."