Tread connects car enthusiasts via plate numbers

It is not uncommon in the automotive enthusiast community to admire another’s ride. The best most people could do was give a thumbs-up as they passed or leave a note on a parked car’s windshield. But no more; this is 2016. Today Tread launches, an app that connects enthusiasts using their license plate numbers.

There are many questions a person might have about the wisdom of an app like this. First of all, are drivers expected to use it while they’re driving? “We don’t want anybody texting while they’re driving,” said CEO and founder Jason Bosnak. “It’s not our intention for users to talk about a driver right in front of them.” He suggests letting a passenger, if you’ve got one in the car with you, use the app. Or remember the license plate number and message them via Tread when you’re parked. Or use a dash cam to capture the number for later.

The press materials for the app said that users could message other users to challenge them to a race, which Bosnak admitted was poor wording. “You could find someone who has a car that’s similar to your car and ask about parts and problems, ask if they race,” he said. “It’s not necessarily a race-off in the streets. We’re not promoting people break laws everywhere.”

Tread is promoting that enthusiasts can communicate with each other via this app rather than using forums or Facebook pages devoted to one make or even one single model. “It’s a segmented community,” Bosnak said. If you’re into cars, even if you’re really into your car, you’re probably also into other cars. Tread is aiming to connect people like you to share events, cool cars on the street and virtual garages.

Over the past year, Bosnak has worked to make a simple app to use on the go and a website with features like the virtual garage and connections to Facebook and Twitter. The app — which is available for iOS now and Android within a month or two — will always be free to users, but Bosnak hopes to use targeted ads. “We could pair up advertisers with the cars you drive or are interested in,” he said. For example, if you post on Tread about needing new front brake discs, the app could show you when those discs are on sale at the AutoZone a mile from your house.

The last concern is privacy, and it’s a concern for Bosnak too. “It’s very important, and we’ve spent a considerable amount of time thinking about it,” he said. He’s spoken with lawyers regarding the reasonable expectation of privacy; a car parked on the street is fair game, but a car parked in someone’s driveway is not. “We want to protect people so information isn’t disclosed,” Bosnak said. “It’s something the internet is challenged with.” Members have complete control over their vehicles on the site and can remove any post they don’t like. “I’m sure we’ll continue to learn how to better control our network. We want it to be enjoyable and safe for everyone to use.”