The new technologies division comes on the heels of the JM&A collaboration, which will launch this year with a certified pre-owned vehicle protection product. J.D. Power's joint product line also will be offered on Darwin's platform, Betts said, alongside other industry options.
"It made sense for us to get into that business," Betts said. "And we knew we wanted to partner with someone who really knew how to do it."
J.D. Power's moves come at a time of great expansion and competition in the digital retailing space. Consumer adoption of online vehicle sales has skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic and prompted a proliferation of partnerships, acquisitions and new entries to the space. Automakers are developing branded digital retailing tools, and dealership management system giants CDK Global Inc. and Reynolds and Reynolds Co. have expanded with acquisitions of their own.
J.D. Power enters the fray with mountains of consumer and dealership research, as well as programs such as the National Automobile Dealers Association's used-car guide and other investments that provide industry data central to facilitating vehicle transactions. This differentiates the analytics company from other digital players that must rely on third-party integrations to complete transactions, Betts said.
"There's a huge transition happening with digital retailing, and more and more, the data exists to be able to decide what we should offer a person for their trade, what used cars are worth and what the lease rate should be," he said. "We're accumulating data assets that will help power the software to make the right decisions and help carmakers and dealers sell cars efficiently."