Volvo announces venture to enhance infotainment system with Google services


Along with the launch of a new Vovlo Cars joint venture with Google to embed services into the Swedish automaker's infotainment system, recent technology development in the industry includes new augmented reality tech from Mercedes Benz USA and Kia Motors America, as well.

Volvo Cars announced Monday that customers can now access Google Assistant, Google Play Store, Google Maps and other Google services through its newly enhanced  Sensus infotainment system.

“Bringing Google services into Volvo cars will accelerate innovation in connectivity and boost our development in applications and connected services,” Henrik Green, senior vice president of research and development at Volvo Cars said in a news release. “Soon, Volvo drivers will have direct access to thousands of in-car apps that make daily life easier and the connected in-car experience more enjoyable.”

In addition to thousands of additional apps available through the Google Play Store, apps and services developed by Google and Volvo Cars have also been embedded.

This new venture builds on the strategic relationship between Volvo Cars and Google. Last year, Volvo Cars announced that the new generation of its infotainment system will be based on Google’s Android platform.

“The Google partnership is an important strategic alliance for Volvo Cars,”  Green explained. “The Android platform, Google services and Google’s working relationship with app developers in-house and worldwide will help us further improve the Volvo car experience.”

In other tech news, a new service from Mercedes employs augmented reality technology to provide customers a new way to explore vehicle features.

Mercedes-Benz USA recently announced that 2018 E-Class and 2018 S-Class drivers can now obtain computer-generated vehicle information in real-time by scanning the controls and displays inside their cars.

Customers can get an answer to questions about operating their vehicle in real time without having an owner's manual by using their smartphone camera instead.

The system is designed to explain unknown functions to the customer via text descriptions, photo and video content. There’s also an option for customers to request a direct link to sections of the digital owner's manual.

Meanwhile, last week the Kia brand also announced a new augmented technology venture with Facebook to enhance its digital assistant for Facebook Messenger.

The Korean automaker introduced its newly enhanced digital assistant at Facebook's annual F8 developer conference this year.

Kia’s Facebook page and website can now provide a more immersive experience in conjunction with Kia's second-generation digital assistant, according to the automaker.

iSeeCars launches new VIN Report app


Access to key vehicle information from iSeeCars to help in car-buying decisions has gotten a bit easier with the help of a new app from the company. recently announced the launch of its free VIN Report for Used Cars app.

The new app enables shoppers to easily scan a vehicle’s VIN barcode with their phones and get instant access to an iSeeCars .

“Consumers can simply scan the VIN barcode of a vehicle as they walk a dealer lot and have instant access to the key things they should check before making a purchase,” chief executive officer Phong Ly said in a news release.

“This invaluable resource equips consumers with the essential information they need to have a smarter dialogue with the seller and negotiate a better price. 

“Our car search engine has saved shoppers over $150 million to date, and we created this service to make our data accessible when consumers need it the most,” Ly continued.

With a combination of proprietary analyses and statistics from 25 billion data points, the iSeeCars VIN Report offering can provide up to 200 pieces of information, according to the company.

iSeeCars said VIN Report data is ideal for when shoppers have questions such as: Can I find a better price nearby?; Are there lots of similar vehicles for sale locally?; How much will this car be worth in five years? or When is the best time to buy a car like this?

Along with vehicle information that specifically compares dealers’ price competitiveness and transparency, key pieces of insight provided by the app include the following list of topics:

  • Price analysis 
  • Selling history
  • Projected depreciation
  • Supply analysis
  • Best time to buy 
  • Theft record
  • Open recall
  • Vehicle history
  • Title/lien info

In addition to scanning the VIN barcode with the new app, or entering a VIN number at, iSeeCars VIN Report is also available as a Google Chrome extension.

Via the extension, car buyers and sellers can easily research each VIN number it detects on any website browsed by shoppers.

“Our VIN Report helps consumers save time and money and provides the needed transparency to the often mysterious and tedious process of buying a used car,” added Ly. “We made it free so people can easily access helpful and insightful information to empower them to have a smarter conversation with the seller and negotiate a good price.”

5 features of DriveTime’s new wholesale buying tool

TEMPE, Ariz. - 

DriveTime retails a lot of metal to consumers through its nationwide footprint of dealerships.

Now the company wants to help its inventory buyers acquire necessary units from the wholesale space.

Earlier this week, DriveTime announced what it’s dubbed the “Genius Way to Buy a Car” at auctions with the launch of Buyonic.

Available on either desktop or mobile device, DriveTime explained Buyonic is an internally developed application to streamline, automate and reinvent the auction purchasing process. 

“We’re excited about the features and early successes of Buyonic,” said Peter Hermes, managing director of inventory at DriveTime.

The features of Buyonic include:

• Pre-filtered vehicle lists guiding buy strategy and live auction actions

• Recommended purchase values

• Live performance tracking

• Capture estimated reconditioning value

• Real time adaptability on purchasing needs

“We began piloting Buyonic with our online buyers beginning in December of last year, and it is now in use with all of our in-lane and online buyers,” said Maureen Needham, director of IT for inventory at DriveTime.

“We are already planning enhancements including recommended delivery location and automated condition report evaluation,” Needham said.

Colin Bachinsky, vice president of inventory, elaborated as to why DriveTime is taking on this endeavor.

“While continuing to be a leader in automotive digital retailing, DriveTime is also innovating in other areas of our business,” Bachinsky said. “Long term, we expect our most recent innovation, Buyonic, to help us capture the entire inventory life cycle of auction, purchase and reconditioning data, allowing us to strategically use the information to win more bids at a better price with lower reconditioning costs, while continuing to provide our customers with high-quality vehicles.

“We’re just beginning to scratch the surface of the quality, efficiency and cost reduction opportunities,” he went on to say.

For more information on DriveTime, visit . 

Selly integrates VINFactor pricing tool to help dealers make better inventory decisions


Dealers who employ the Selly Automotive CRM can now make critical inventory decisions with the help of a newly added market intelligence tool for inventory and pricing.

The company announced Friday that it has partnered with VINFactor to make its market intelligence tool available to dealers via the Selly Automotive CRM.

“We have been working hard with VINFactor in Q1 2018 to develop and integrate their market data tool into Selly,” Selly Automotive chief executive officer Zach Klempf explained in a news release. “Steve and his team have put together a wonderful product offering that complements our CRM platform for auto dealerships.

“We strive to provide Selly dealers with the latest and greatest technology to help drive sales and conversion.,” Klempf continued.

Dealers can find market intelligence data from VINFactor embedded into Selly’s inventory module, according to the company.

The real-time pricing and inventory recommendations provided by VINFactor has made the Selly Automotive CRM more relevant and actionable.

Real-time pricing and inventory recommendations from VINFactor, make the product much more relevant and actionable, according to VINFactor CEO and founder Steve Greenfield.

“Providing Selly Automotive customers with real-time pricing and inventory recommendations from VINFactor makes the product much more relevant and actionable,” Greenfield said. “We’ve known Zach and the Selly team for years, and appreciate the partnership with their dealers.”

ActivEngage integrates live chat with LotLinx's mobile-optimized VDPs

ORLANDO, Fla. - 

Moblie car buyers can now access ActivEngage's ActivOne live chat solution via LotLinxAMP vehicle display pages.

ActivEngage is the latest certified chat partner to join the LotLinx Mobile-Optimized AMP Program, the company announced Monday.

This news follows ActivEngage's December integration with 700Credit to offer users the ability to pull credit inside chat conversations.

"We're excited to offer dealers an integration that connects them with today's mobile-first shoppers in real time," ActivEngage vice president of business development Eric Schlesinger said in a news release. "Twenty percent of ActivEngage leads include a sales appointment. By combining our industry-leading chat solution with LotLinx's mobile-optimized VDPs, we can deliver more ready-to-buy car buyers to the showroom."

In addition to the integration, ActivEngage and LotLinx also have plans to release a joint car buyer conversion report about the impact of online chat.

The joint report will discuss the importance of online chat conversions and its influence on in-store sales, according to ActivEngage.

"Our technology always focuses on dealers' needs, added Keith Schuyler, LotLinx vice president of client services. "Our certified partnership with ActivEngage is a powerful way for dealers to drive high digital ROI."

Car-sharing platform gaining steam in 2 Calif. cities


The competition dealerships are facing to retail vehicles to consumers in two of California’s largest cities is becoming even more complicated thanks to a mobile startup looking to connect people who want to share their cars.

About a year after landing more than $40 million in capital, Getaround, the platform that founders said can empower users to instantly rent and drive vehicle shared by people in their city, now has expanded its presence in both Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Earlier this month, Getaround expanded into the city of Angels as the platform explained vehicle owners in Los Angeles can reduce the financial burden of ownership and even make some fun money by listing their vehicle on Getaround. Each vehicle is equipped with Getaround Connect, a proprietary technology that enables renters to locate and unlock the car using the Getaround app.

People in Los Angeles can now instantly rent nearby cars all through the Getaround iOS or Android application — no need to meet in person to get the car keys.

And then on Wednesday, Getaround, announced the upcoming launch of Uber Rent powered by Getaround, a carsharing option within the Uber App. Soon, Uber customers in San Francisco will be able to instantly find and rent vehicles shared on Getaround using the Uber app. Cars will be available to rent across the city, and users will be able to choose from low-emission sedans to sporty SUVs.

Uber Rent powered by Getaround will initially roll out in San Francisco.

While perhaps not directly targeting dealers looking to retail vehicles, Getaround is certainly looking to reduce the amount of units in operation.

Getaround believes carsharing is a major part of the environmental sustainability movement. An independent study by the University of California Berkeley Transportation Sustainability Research Center measured the impact of carsharing. The study found that for every one vehicle shared, about 10 are taken off the road. This means that for every 1,000 vehicles shared on Getaround, roughly 100 million pounds of carbon dioxide are offset.

And in densely populated locations like Los Angeles and San Francisco, Getaround has even higher hopes for a positive environmental impact.

“It’s an understatement to say that LA’s traffic and emissions are some of the worst in the country,” said James Correa, general manager for Getaround Los Angeles. “We’re excited to bring Getaround to LA and start taking cars off the road to help reduce congestion in our city.”

Correa helped the company soft launch Los Angeles in March, quickly onboarding the first 50 vehicle owners onto the platform. Many owners are earning over $1,000 per month already by sharing their car when it would otherwise be idle. With people in LA seeking transportation alternatives this spring and summer for road trips, apartment moves, and errand runs, now is the time for vehicle owners to list their cars and start earning money.

Getaround is dedicated to making the Los Angeles market successful and works closely with local governments to reduce congestion and emissions by encouraging designated parking spaces for carsharing communities. The company has office space in Culver City and has already hired over a dozen full-time and part-time employees. The team is also forging relationships with local auto body shops and automotive vendors.

What sets Getaround apart from competitors is that the company doesn’t own its fleet of vehicles. Each car is owned by a person who lives in the city. There are no signup fees, annual dues, or access cards, reducing the barriers for Los Angeles residents to try carsharing.

“As we expand and carsharing becomes universal, we’re not only providing people with access to transportation and economic opportunity, but we’re also helping cities solve environmental issues such as traffic, congestion and smog,” said Sam Zaid, chief executive officer of Getaround.

“We’re excited to become a part of the greater Los Angeles transportation network and to leverage our technology to create sustainable mobility options throughout the city,” Zaid continued.

And Zaid is also upbeat about what Getaround’s prospects in San Francisco could be.

Uber Rent powered by Getaround can enable Uber riders to instantly signup, reserve and unlock vehicles on the Getaround platform right from the Uber app. The two companies worked closely together to design the app experience and to integrate the Uber app seamlessly with Getaround. This builds on a previous partnership announced in May 2017 where people without cars can rent a rideshare-ready Getaround vehicle to drive with Uber and earn money.

“At Uber, we want to bring together multiple modes of transportation right in our app so we can give riders a viable alternative to personal car ownership,” said Jahan Khanna, head of product mobility at Uber. “We’re excited to partner with Getaround to bring carsharing to our rider app for the first time.”

Zaid then reiterated what Getaround’s objective is.

“Our mission is to empower people to carshare everywhere, and we’re making that possible by providing more people with access to carsharing through the apps they already use,” Zaid said. “Most of a person’s transportation needs can be met by coupling ridesharing for quick trips with carsharing for trips with multiple stops or longer getaways. It’s the perfect combination for people who have chosen to live car-free.”

These developments in Los Angeles and San Francisco arrived about a year after Getaround announced the company had raised $45 million in new capital. The Series C equity round was led by Braemar Energy Ventures, a venture capital firm specializing in energy technology with investments across the automotive space.

Also joining the round were Toyota Motor Corp., through its investment in SPARX Group, and SAIC Capital, the venture capital investment arm of Shanghai Automotive, as well as existing venture investors, including Menlo Ventures and Triangle Peak Partners.

To learn more, list your car, or rent a car nearby, head to , or download the iPhone or Android mobile app from .

LexisNexis Risk Solutions rolls out global telematics platform


Technology might be providing a way for automakers and franchised dealerships to gain sales opportunities long after the buyer finalizes the contract in the F&I and the vehicle is delivered.

LexisNexis Risk Solutions highlighted that OEMs looking to leverage connected car data to offer their customers usage-based insurance (UBI) options through participating insurers and create greater customer engagement through driving behavior back can now build new consumer services and take advantage of telematics data filtering, normalization and analytics with the launch of a LexisNexis Risk Solutions Software Development Kit (SDK).

LexisNexis Risk Solutions, a unit of RELX Group, explained the key advantage of the SDK is that it can allow OEMs to easily plug into the LexisNexis Global Telematics Platform, which can offer high levels of data security, advanced analytics for big data and a direct data pipe into the insurance markets' software infrastructure.

Since the SDK uses the same data infrastructure as LexisNexis embedded, connected car solutions, the SDK also can enable OEMs to extend certain connected car benefits to owners of legacy, non-connected vehicles in the current fleet.

The SDK can enable OEMs to build innovative customer applications across different regions and in different languages, all on the same platform or to improve existing and full-featured customer-facing apps without impacting experience. OEM access to the Global Telematics Platform also can enable customers to benefit through the use of their driving data to secure insurance products.  

“From trip scoring, to journey histories and visualization, our highly secure, global platform can ingest driving data from OEMs wherever their vehicles are located in the world — filtering, normalizing and contextualizing the data to provide the backbone of new products and services to support the OEM’s brand experience,” said Rutger Van der Wall, vice president of global products and insurance at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. 

“The SDK removes the complexity and cost OEMs would otherwise face in developing the technical infrastructure needed to help the industry connect to insurance products for the type of consumer services their customers want, based on their driving data,” Van der Wall continued. “It allows OEMs to focus on design and delivery, product innovation and consumer engagement using driver scoring, journey and route information.

“Insurance is the second-highest cost in the total cost of ownership for a consumer,” he went on to say. “If OEMs can help lower the cost of vehicle ownership through usage-based insurance, their sales proposition is strengthened considerably. At the same time, by using real-time data from the car, the analytics capability of OEMs will be enhanced, creating much greater opportunities to engage with customers and build trust and loyalty at a time when consumer mobility needs are shifting.”

Using the LexisNexis Risk Solutions Software Development Kit, Van der Wall also explained OEMs can:

— Extend connected car features to owners of non-connected vehicles through the same global telematics platform.

— Use the technical capacity of the global telematics platform to reduce the complexity and cost of building a consumer grade data normalization, filtering and telematics scoring infrastructure.

— Take advantage of faster speed-to-market with supported and documented frameworks, APIs and best practices.

— Power applications without the cost of duplicating infrastructure, building driving scoring knowledge internationally, opening more markets faster.

— Integrate seamlessly into existing apps, allowing OEMs to maintain a consistent customer experience while connecting to LexisNexis Risk Solutions and insurers.

For more information about the LexisNexis Risk Solutions Software Development Kit (SDK) and the LexisNexis Global Telematics Platform, send a message to [email protected]

Innovators in AI and more set to gather for FICO World 2018

SAN JOSE, Calif. - 

Some of the world’s leading experts in artificial intelligence (AI), applied analytics and decision management will gather in Miami Beach, Fla., later this month for FICO World 2018.

Silicon Valley analytic software firm FICO highlighted that Sebastian Thrun, chief executive officer of Kitty Hawk Corp., and co-founder and president of Udacity, as well as chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, will be the keynote speakers at FICO World 2018, which begins on April 16.

With the theme of “Analytics for the Customer-Obsessed Business,” FICO World will focus on how organizations can advance their business and improve the customer experience using analytics. As the use of AI and machine learning expands in organizations, FICO World attendees will learn how to best leverage analytics and decision management technology to solve business issues.

Thrun and Kasparov are two of the foremost innovators in their fields. Thrun is the CEO of Kitty Hawk, a personal airborne vehicle company, and co-founder and president of Udacity, an online private educational organization. He was a Google Fellow and vice president, and a research professor at Stanford University. Thrun works on revolutionizing transportation, education, and mobile devices. At Google, he founded Google X, and led the development of the Google self-driving car.

Kasparov is a pioneering figure in computer chess, most famous for his two matches against the IBM super-computer Deep Blue in 1996 and 1997. Kasparov has researched and collaborated with many high-tech luminaries and companies on human-machine cooperation, the economic consequences of tech stagnation, and the future of intelligent machines.

In addition to keynotes from Thrun and Kasparov, FICO World will offer more than 75 presentations across 12 tracks from thought leaders in a variety of industries, including speakers from Southwest Airlines, Citi, Mastercard, UBS, Sprint, and SunTrust. 

The event will focus on topics such as AI, cybersecurity, risk management, customer engagement and innovative applications of decision management.

“FICO World 2018 promises to unlock the value of advanced analytics, human creativity, and industry best practices.  Three decades of artificial intelligence advancements will take the stage for the benefit of our clients worldwide,” said Wayne Huyard, executive vice president for sales and marketing at FICO.

“It will be an event rich in analytic-actioned experiences, solutions and vision,” Huyard continued. “All can benefit and every business worldwide is invited to attend.”

As one of the foremost international conference on applications of predictive analytics and decision management technology, FICO World 2018 is sponsored by leading organizations in the field. Amazon Web Services (AWS) will be joining as a Platinum sponsor. Credit reporting agency Equifax and TSYS, a leading global payments provider, are Silver sponsors.

FIS, a global provider dedicated to financial technology solutions, is also a sponsor.

The full conference agenda .

On April 16, prior to the official kick-off of FICO World, FICO is offering a one-day intensive hands-on training on the basics of analytically driven credit decisions.  Attendees will be able to participate in various sessions presented by FICO experts, including consultants from Fair Isaac Advisors, FICO’s consultancy group.

FICO will provide a comprehensive introduction on the FICO Score.  Sessions will also address origination fundamentals, customer management, and collections and recovery.

Attendees will leave Credit Bootcamp with best practices on how to incorporate analytics into operations and what decisions need to be made across the credit risk lifecycle.

There is limited space available. .

DealerSocket chooses former Symantec exec as COO


An executive with vast experience at some familiar names within the personal computing space now is in the automotive arena.

On Thursday, DealerSocket announced that Jose Arcilla has joined the company as chief operating officer.

The company highlighted Arcilla joins DealerSocket from Symantec Corp., and brings more than 20 years of experience leading operations across some of the most recognizable software companies in the world. Throughout his time at Symantec, Blue Coat Systems, Adobe and McAfee, Arcilla led and managed teams handling new accounts, professional services, customer success, customer support, retention and renewals, all of which he is now leading at DealerSocket.

“Jose’s experience in achieving operational excellence and his customer-centric focus make him a perfect fit as our new COO at DealerSocket,” said Sejal Pietrzak, president and chief executive officer of DealerSocket.

“My goal is to delight our customers and help them maximize the return on their investment in our software solutions,” Pietrzak continued. “Jose’s proven track record of over two decades of nurturing a customer-first approach will create an even stronger culture of offering our customers positive and seamless experiences.”

DealerSocket reiterated that its vision is to drive the future of automotive by simplifying the experience for our customers, consumers and partners by offering a suite of products that are seamless and integrated.

“We are constantly devising new ways to streamline our customer engagement lifecycle. This will ensure we will connect with our customers at the right time, with the right resources, and create solutions for our customers the first time, every time,” Arcilla said.

“Our ability to truly differentiate our customer experience allows us to act as our customers’ trusted advisors.  We will reactively, proactively and ultimately predictively engage to help our customers become even more successful,” he went on to say.

VinSolutions introduces CRM capability built to provide dealers deeper insights on customer behavior

MISSION, Kan. - 

VinSolutions announced Wednesday that it has launched an all-new solution, called Enterprise Customer, which can give dealers insight regarding customers' related activities across dealership group rooftops.

The new capability has been added to the company’s Connect CRM and newly released Connect Mobile application.

In addition to a holistic view of customer profiles, Enterprise Customer also features an intuitive group-level customer record viewer and a summary of customer Connect desking activity.

"At VinSolutions, we prioritize staying aligned with the needs of our customers and the shifts in the automotive retail industry," Chase Abbott, vice president of sales at VinSolutions and Dealertrack F&I said in a news release. "We know dealer groups need a seamless way to view customers across their rooftops – without having to sift through multiple CRM instances — and we know all dealerships need a way to empower their staff with intuitive mobile technologies.

"Enterprise Customer and the new Connect Mobile app meet those needs, and they help dealers build and nurture relationships," Abbott continued.

The new app can allow dealership salespeople to quickly obtain customer information on a mobile device and features a new centralized appointment calendar.

Connect Mobile is available for download at the App Store and the Google Play Store.