A former Tesla executive who oversaw finance operations in Germany and the founder and former CEO of the internet auto resource TrueCar.com have partnered to launch a new car-financing startup, Fair.
The Tesla exec is Georg Bauer, and the former TrueCar CEO is Scott Painter, an influential but at-times controversial pioneer of a transparent-pricing approach to generating online sales leads for car dealers.
Details on Fair are currently modest. According to public-relations firm representing the new company, Fair will concentrate on auto “micro-ownership,” presumably developing new ways of buying or leasing vehicles without committing to traditional terms — a sort of car fractional-ownership idea, the automotive equivalent of what some customers do with private jets, but at a much less costly scale.
The startup has raised $16 million in what its representatives termed a “seed round.”
For the moment, Fair is just a website.
Painter has extensive experience with online auto companies, but he also has suffered the ire of dealers. TrueCar arrived in 2007, but by 2011 it was in trouble, facing a dealer revolt after it touched the third-rail of auto-dealer relations, pricing. TrueCar was paid $299 for dealer leads that were converted into sales, but its analytics were driving down sticker prices to unacceptable levels. (Forbes’ Joann Muller recounted the problems, which nearly destroyed TrueCar, at Forbes.)
Bauer is less well known, but he has spent time at both BMW and Mercedes, on the financing side.
Aside from extending loan terms and providing affordable leasing deals, there hasn’t been a huge amount on innovation in how cars are financed. It will be interesting to see what Fair comes up with.
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