IRVINE, Calif. — Add AutoGravity to the growing list of firms looking to digitize the finance portion of the car-buying process. The fintech firm unveiled today a mobile app that will allow California car buyers to secure vehicle financing or a lease.
By following a four-step process on their mobile devices, consumers will receive up to four finance offers based on the price of the car, term, trade-in, down payment and where they land on the credit spectrum.
The entire process, according to the company, takes a few minutes. Many of the top banks in the automotive industry have agreed to work with AutoGravity, the company told F&I and Showroom, so they’ll be able to offer consumers similar rates and offers to what a dealership could offer.
"AutoGravity changes the game by giving car shoppers direct access to up to four great financing offers right on their smartphones, anytime and anywhere they want. Approved customers arrive at the dealership confident and ready to close the deal," said Andy Hinrichs, AutoGravity's founder and CEO, in a company press release. "Our industry-leading technology has been embraced by leading banks and dealer groups — trusted partners that help us make the digital car buying and financing process as enjoyable as driving a new car off the lot."
The company noted that while the application is available to download on iOS or Android nationwide, financing is only available to consumers in California . However, there are plans to expand outside of the state in the near future.
The company has been focused on building the technology rather than marketing it. That will change early in 2017, officials said. Despite the lack of marketing, company officials told F&I and Showroom the company has exceeded more than 80,000 downloads. They believe that count will reach 100,000 by year's end.
In November, AutoGravity announced a partnership with Calif.-based Fletcher Jones Auto Group. Through the partnership, AutoGravity built the dealer group an app similar to its own but specific to Mercedes-Benz and Fletcher Jones. Reception from Fletcher Jones and customers has been positive, according to the company.
“What we have jointly developed with them is an app called Fletcher Jones Drive that utilizes AutoGravity technology and the same process, but now caters to the captive audience that this dealer has,” Hinrichs told F&I and Showroom. “So we have now taken the AutoGravity technology and created a private label version for Fletcher Jones that is off to a very successful start and caters to the existing clientele of the dealer.”
While the hope is that the app will gain mass appeal by the end of 2017, officials noted that dealers will be critical to the success of its solution. In other words, the firm doesn't want to usurp the dealership or the lenders. Hinrich said his hope is that the company and its solution will become the “digital glue between lender and dealer.”
“We are a very different startup from what you see out there in the automotive startup world. We are not proclaiming that dealers are obsolete and that lenders will go the way of the dinosaur. We are saying the opposite; dealers play a very important role, and lenders bring an important role bringing efficiency and scale to the process,” Hinrichs said.
“What the automotive finance industry is lacking is a comprehensive digital experience for the customer," he added. "And for the dealer, a digital delivery channel, this is the issue that AutoGravity is solving. And we’re solving it in a partnership with lenders and a partnership with dealers.”