TC50: TrueCar May Keep Car Dealers More Honest

TrueCar joins GoodGuide in helping consumers obtain more information about the products they buy – information that sellers don’t necessarily want them to have. In TrueCar’s case, that information is simple yet elusive: just how much you should pay for a new car.

TrueCar aggregates data from a variety of (mostly unnamed) sources to determine how much money other people have paid for new cars around the country. It then places its findings at your disposal so you can determine whether or not that dealership down the street is offering you a good deal. The outcome, hopefully, is that you save not only hundreds and possibly thousands on your new car but the time it would have taken to comparison shop as well.

To use TrueCar, you just have to enter your zip code and the model you’re interested in buying. The price data is offered to you in a variety of visual formats such as bar graphs and charts. And it can be narrowed down to a local, regional, or national level. You can also view the history of how a car’s price has changed over time.

The site currently accounts for only about 25% of all relevant transactions. The founders want to hold off from launching it publicly until they’ve reached at least 50% and they are confident that one day they will hit 75%.

The expert panelists were concerned in particular about the sources of TrueCar’s information and its uniqueness. Jeff Weiner asked where the company got its information and why the pricing information offered by other sites like Edmunds didn’t stack up. The founders insisted that all of the data was out there and publicly available; it was just hard to tie it all together and make sense of it. And since they had built a sophisticated system to synthesize it all, their pricing insights were deeper and more informative.

Don Dodge and Sean Parker were also skeptical that the provision of this pricing knowledge would actually change consumer behavior, since people are lazy and subject to price discrimination, even when it comes to commodities.

Watch TrueCar’s TechCrunch50 presentation here.