Editor's note: The original article misstated the number of dealerships that work with AutoFi. It is more than 2,000 dealerships.
As the large dealership software companies continue to gobble up smaller players, independent vendors are taking note of a changing playing field.
Kevin Singerman, CEO of AutoFi, a digital shopping and finance platform, told Automotive News last week that his company's continued sovereignty gives it an edge to pull forward in a market with few players of "any significant size."
"There is nothing wrong with having a great outcome and selling your business," Singerman said. "But we would be leaving so much on the table. Why would we exit right now, when this is finally coming to life?"
This year alone, major analytics firm J.D. Power purchased Darwin Automotive, one of the largest dealership finance software providers; Solera Holdings Inc. acquired dealership software provider DealerSocket; and dealership management system giants CDK Global Inc. and Reynolds and Reynolds Co. also made acquisitions, recently buying digital retailing vendors Roadster and Gubagoo.
AutoFi thus far has evaded a buyout. Singerman cites leadership's dedication to staying in the market rather than entertaining the right offer. And remaining independent has allowed AutoFi to land partnerships with major players, without divided loyalties, he said.
AutoFi works with more than 2,000 dealerships nationwide and already has close ties to Ford Motor Credit Co. and Chase Auto. Most recently, the company landed a deal to create a shopping and finance platform for Santander Consumer USA, one of the country's largest subprime auto lenders and the private-label lending partner for Stellantis.
"The future we saw is finally tipping over, and we want to be a key enabler of that," Singerman said. "I would never have been able to convince a leading global automotive bank to work with [our] company five years ago. It would feel too early for us to choose another path."