Scott Painter, who founded used-vehicle subscription service Fair, said he is working to launch a new software-as-a-service platform to help subscription providers achieve scale and become profitable.
Painter, who stepped aside as Fair's CEO last year, said he has been quietly working since March on a new entity, NextCar Inc. NextCar will not be a consumer-facing subscription provider like Fair, he said, but rather help vehicle subscription companies grow and make money by providing services they'll need to operate, such as debt capital, insurance, access to inventory, maintenance capabilities, fleet management and digital servicing.
"It is all of the component parts of a subscription business, but we are not focused on building our own brand and going direct to the consumer," Painter told Automotive News.
"These are all things that when we started Fair just didn't exist, and we had to basically attempt to create all of those things," he added. "Each and every one of them is their own business and a very, very hard thing to do, and that's where I've been focusing my time at NextCar."
He declined to share details of the amount of capital NextCar has raised to date, or its investors, leadership team and partnerships, other than to say "we have a complete team, we're fully funded and we are working hard on building these solutions." Painter said more information could come in the first quarter of 2021.
He said he chose to announce NextCar following a Reuters report last week that cited sources saying Painter was considering acquiring Fair from investors, including SoftBank.
"There's no deal on the table to buy Fair. And I'm not going to really comment on speculation," Painter said this week. "Given the names involved, like SoftBank and others, I guess I understand why there's so much interest in that, but there's no announcement there. There's no acquisition. There's nothing on the table, and it is just pure speculation."
Painter added: "I'm chairman of Fair right now and I'm focused on building the solution set over at NextCar, and that's all I'm doing."
Painter stepped down as Fair's CEO in 2019, saying then that the company needed new leadership to help it achieve profitability.
Fair in May named Brad Stewart its new CEO. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based subscription service in September said it plans to expand into longer-term leases for used vehicles.
Stewart is "making really good operating decisions about what Fair is facing in the marketplace and how it has to design its product. Those are decisions for him to make and he's got my full support," Painter said.
A Fair spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.
Vehicle subscriptions generally bundle such options as roadside assistance, limited warranties and routine maintenance into a monthly payment. Painter said he believes a subscription service is simpler than a traditional vehicle lease or purchase and is able to be completed entirely digitally.
NextCar will operate as a vendor to subscription providers, supplying technology and components necessary to operate so subscription companies don't also have to develop them on their own, Painter said, likening NextCar to auto retail vendors that provide services to help dealerships operate.