Entrepreneur

Tred rolls out at-home test drive service for car buyers

Tred is applying the idea of “trying on at home” to cars.

The startup launched its home-delivery test drive service in the Greater Seattle area today for people looking to buy a new car and closed $1.8 million in seed funding.

Buying a car is a big decision. Autotrader.com and Polk Automotive did a study in 2011 that found that new vehicle buyers spend 11.5 hours shopping for cars online and 7.5 hours shopping for cars offline. You have to research cars that are right for you, visit a dealership, take the car for a test drive, and negotiate price. This process is time-consuming and can be stressful, particularly with car salesmen lurking about.

Potential buyers can schedule test drives for cars that interest them wherever and whenever is convenient. Tred has partnered with local auto dealers and brings those cars to consumers so they can experience it on their own turf. If you are deciding between two vehicles, you can schedule delivery of both at the same time and make side-by-side comparisons even when they come from different manufacturers. People can also do experiments like arranging bicycles in the trunk, installing car seats, loading groceries, or determining which car fits best in the garage and whether a car really suits their lifestyle.

“Tred cuts the time in a dealership substantially and eliminates all the pressures of making car buying decisions on the showroom floor by bringing cars directly to where busy families and professionals are comfortable — on their own terms, during their schedule, and at the best possible price,” said cofounder and chief executive officer Grant Feek to VentureBeat. “So for the busy family, there’s no more worrying about the impatient toddler who doesn’t want to sit through pricing negotiations or long periods of time finalizing paperwork.”

After the test drive appointment, Tred will send a price report and dealer contact information. The company said it works with dealers to offer “rock-bottom, no haggle” prices. It is able to do this because dealers appreciate the ability to focus on serious shoppers who are more likely to buy. When people are ready to buy, they bring their price certificate into dealership (within two weeks) for redemption. The price is predetermined and significantly cuts down on time in the dealership since you only go once. You know exactly what you want and exactly what to pay. You are under no obligation to buy.

Another benefit of this model is objectivity. Tred’s auto experts are not loyal to a particular brand and can present the facts impartially. They do not make sales commissions, so there are no ulterior motives or pushiness, either.

“There have been other Internet innovators who have entered this space and tried to work with local dealerships, but Tred is taking a different approach,” Feek said. “First, Tred is for dealers by dealers, and we don’t make a business decision without first consulting them and considering their ROI. Secondly, we’re committed to helping dealers participate in the customer-service revolution that is sweeping the rest of the retail economy. And we believe that doing so is the single best way to capture Gen Y and busy families and professionals.”

Feek is a Seattle native who used to work in real estate development and finance. He founded Tred in 2012 and participated in TechStars Seattle. Chairman and CEO of General Motors Rick Wagoner, Chris Sacca’s Lowercase Capital, David Cohen, Maveron Capital, Fraser McCombs Capital, Great Oaks Venture Capital, and Founder’s Co-Op participated in the financing. It will support the company as it expands into new cities.

Feek drives an Outback.

Photo Credit: Tred

More information:

Tred redefines the $600B new car market by letting you test drive from your doorstep. We deliver through Tred concierges who are incentivized by customer service reviews rather than sales commission, so shoppers feel no pressure to dis... read more »

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