Have you ever wished a car you were selling had a resume; something to detail all of its features and giving you a clear picture of its worth? With the launch of the Centralized Vehicle Data Repository, in essence, it can.
Based on a recommendation from the IARA (International Automotive Remarketers Alliance) Standards Committee, the Centralized Vehcile Data Repository makes electronic vehicle descriptions available through AutoIMS’ inventory management system. With it, consignors, who are responsible for remarketing vehicle portfolios, can access vehicle identification number (VIN)-level manufacturer build data, MSRP, recall and warranty information, and input their own data.
“We allow consignors to call for the specific vehicle data description and information through their existing connection to AutoIMS,” said Mike Broe, CEO/President, AutoIMS. “We make a data call to the Chrome/AutoData database on a VIN-by-VIN basis, and make the resulting information easily accessible in AutoIMS.com, where most major commercial consignors manage their remarketing inventory.”
The repository is one of the newest IARA initiatives. “It’s still being perfected, but is being used as we speak to streamline the gathering of information about vehicles being sold through various channels,” said Tony Long, the executive director of IARA.
Drawing Board to Reality
Once the idea for the repository arose, it became a reality quickly. “The Centralized Data Repository is a great example of a project that came about from an exchange of ideas at one of our IARA Roundtable Forums,” Long said. “We brought two companies into the conversation, AutoIMS and Chrome Data, and they were able to come up with a useful product that is now a reality. In a matter of months, we went from the drawing board to functionality.”
Following the genesis of the idea at the Roundtable, the Standards Committee outlined the vision, then sent a survey to IARA members to validate that the solution would meet their needs. “After the IARA committee reviewed the results, it was clear we needed assistance from vendors that had experience with managing vehicle data in the industry and a way to integrate that data with the end user,” said Dan Heinrich, SVP Remarketing Solutions, GM Financial.
That’s when the committee looked to Chrome Data and Auto Auction Services Corporation (AASC), parent company of AutoIMS, to support the project. “The data repository was created to give consignors better visibility into their inventory by using VIN decoding, or a better description of the vehicle,” Broe said. “AASC has partnered with Chrome/AutoData to deliver the better descriptions through AASC. The IARA Standards Committee asked for better data to assist it in describing and pricing their vehicles and to better understand what they can about warranty and recall information.”
Heinrich said working with AutoIMS was a good fit, as it’s already a solution familiar to the industry. “This solution assimilates the data within an existing industry solution for which a lot of remarketers already have integration standards set up, creating a seamless transition of data,” he said.
Broe said AutoIMS’ goal is to ensure consignors can manage inventory across the entire lifecycle of remarketing. “We were excited to participate in this endeavor when asked because we see ourselves as critical to the consignors’ mission to sell cars faster for more money,” he said.
Chrome Data also proved to be a good fit, with a robust data offering ready for the taking. “Chrome Data has spent 20 years building and improving solutions and data sets for accurately describing vehicles and over the past several years our efforts to gain support from the manufactures to utilize their build data to assist in properly describing their products has gained momentum,” said Craig Jennings, managing partner, Chrome Data Solutions. “Properly and accurately describing vehicles is critical to consumers, dealers, dealer service providers, insurance companies, finance companies and the complete remarketing industry. Chrome recognized that partnering with IARA and AutoIMS was the most efficient and appropriate means to offer these services to the remarketing industry and we applaud the standards committee action and the AutoIMS partnership.”
With a centralized system, consignors can easily access vehicle data, including information about every vehicle’s factory-equipped options. The result? Consignors can more accurately price vehicles based on build data. And with the original MSRP available, consignors can also price late-model units with limited transactions in the wholesale market.
“Unlike manufacturers, remarketers handle vehicles they didn’t produce. Sometimes the information from the VIN doesn’t provide all of the information they need to accurately price the vehicle. With OEM build data, we get right down to trim levels and other valuable details needed to competitively price the product and price it according to how it’s equipped,” Long said. “From a manufacturer’s standpoint, there is also inherent value because it helps capture accurate residual values.”
On a broader level, the repository is intended to result in fewer incorrect trim levels, greater transparency across the industry, improved pricing models, and increased residual values. Safety recall information will also be easy to find.
“From discussions I had with my peers, everyone sees the value in the transparency of the data and working that information into their business processes,” Heinrich said.
The repository saves time and hassle, too. “Centralizing the database reduces both business processes and IT burdens that remarketers would otherwise have to face if they were to individually connect to build data sources,” Broe said. “It wasn’t long ago that on a visit to a sub-prime lender client, we noticed one of our users straining to see details in a vehicle photo on a condition report in AutoIMS. It turned out the client was trying to see the vehicle badging on the side of the truck to verify whether it had a diesel engine — a very valuable option on that model. If she could determine the truck had a diesel engine, she could price the truck appropriately.”
The client sells over 60,000 vehicles per year at auction, said Broe. “Instead of calling the auction or straining her eyes at a photo and still being uncertain, she will now be able to verify the engine and much more, at the click of a button and spend her time on more valuable activities,” he said.
The Centralized Vehicle Data Repository has the potential to have an industry-wide impact. “Any time you bring more transparency to the purchase it makes everyone involved feel more confident and in control,” Heinrich said. “I see this being a tool that will allow us to increase efficiencies and hopefully provide more accurate information to increase the value of the vehicles being sold. This should provide more flexibility for remarketers to use multiple channels with confidence.”
Broe agreed the repository could have industry-wide effects. “We feel the impact is critical because of the detailed descriptions and information available to consignors during the remarketing process,” he said. “The more a consignor knows about each vehicle, the better the vehicle can be priced and announced to potential buyers. Accurate descriptions and announcements greatly increase the opportunity to sell their vehicles at first offering at a fair value. All parties benefit from better selling percentages, which result in reduced inventory carrying costs, satisfied buyers, and a more efficient marketplace.”
Jennings sees the repository as a step forward, helping the remarketing industry evolve from outdated, painstaking data searches to an easy-to-use, robust data platform. “It’s almost implausible that an industry as large and advanced as automotive remarketing still can’t properly access critical details about the products they are buying and selling without physically performing a time-consuming, detailed inspection of the vehicle and even then hidden features such as navigation, lane departure systems, premium audio, airbags or the appropriate exterior color name may be missed or misrepresented,” he said. “The centralized data repository is a significant offering to help solve this problem and the data repository will evolve rapidly with the addition of build data from more manufacturers and new data sets as recommended by the IARA standards committee.”
More Data to Come
When asked how he sees the repository evolving over the next five to 10 years, Broe said he only sees it growing. “As the remarketing industry uses key data like we are able to provide, all participants will see the value in accurate descriptions and pricing,” he said. “We see other manufacturers participating, and this data has the potential to automatically flow starting from the original purchase process through all steps of the remarketing process. In addition, the proliferation of sight-unseen Internet purchases and the increasing popularity of remote-repping physical auction sales place great importance on the accurate identification of the content on any given vehicle.”
Heinrich agreed that, as users gravitate toward the repository, its data and participants will grow. “As the data is consumed and the value is realized, more manufacturers will want to be involved and provide data to continue to build on the repository’s success,” he said.
Heinrich also sees the repository as a symbol of the value of industry collaboration. “A lot of time and effort went on behind the scenes between companies with one common goal. Everyone wanted to find a solution that would have an impact in the remarketing industry and could help solve a need that almost everyone was facing,” he said. “This solution was brought forward by the user, solved by vendors involved in our business, and will be used to help benefit remarketers and dealers.