Key Car Dealerships Turn to Unique Tech Platform for Growth, Creating a Lifeline for their Industry’s Future

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With tech start-up Joydrive, dealerships might have the answer to the projected demise of automotive retailing

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  • The traditional dealership model faces significant market headwinds as the customer and industry evolve
  • 48 dealerships around the country have now joined Joydrive’s network to prepare for future growth and launch a new way for customers to buy cars 100% online without visiting a dealership
  • In less than six months, Joydrive has built what will soon be the nation’s largest digital store with nearly twice the inventory of Carvana
  • Joydrive plans to be first nationwide digital store for new/used cars, and the most extensive network of connected dealerships, by the end of ‘18

With the auto market rapidly changing and the role of dealerships under threat, two industry leaders are making a bold move to transform the landscape and lead dealerships into the future.    

Technology start-up Joydrive is announcing that Tom Durant of Classic Chevrolet, the largest Chevrolet dealership in U.S. nine out of the last eleven years, has joined Don Fleming of Northwest Motorsport, one of the country’s largest independent pre-owned dealerships, on Joydrive’s Dealer Advisory Board to radically change the way customers interact with and buy cars from dealerships. Additionally, Durant’s Classic dealerships and Northwest Motorsport have joined Joydrive’s network to list their inventory on the unique digital store.

“We are selling cars today the same way we sold them 40 years ago, even though many consumers clearly want an alternative,” says Durant, chairman of the Texas Auto Dealers Association and long regarded as one of the most influential dealer principals. “I don’t want to be the group that’s left behind, and this is an important step toward embracing a different future.”


The highly fragmented dealership industry is grappling with customers demanding an entirely new buying experience – both a 100% e-commerce solution and a full selection of all new and pre-owned brands in one marketplace. Further developments like subscription services and self-driving cars could also pose challenges for dealerships. Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, has acknowledged, “disruption and revolution are coming.” And legendary car exec Bob Lutz has called the traditional dealership model, “a threatened species.”

Joydrive’s proprietary platform lets customers buy their cars from dealerships 100% online without having to visit the dealership. Unlike other sites, this includes a trade-in, financing, warranty coverage, scheduling the home delivery and even a five-day return period.

The addition of Durant’s Classic dealerships will expand the Joydrive network to 48 dealerships across five states: WA, OR, TX, OK and FL, but with the ability to delivery anywhere in the country. This includes mainline and luxury brands, with nearly twice the inventory of $4 billion Carvana, including new vehicles which Carvana does not offer. Joydrive expects to create the first and largest nationwide digital store for new and used cars by the end of 2018. At that time, the Joydrive network will also represent the largest dealership group in the country.

Joydrive has been operating in a beta mode since 2016 – developing and perfecting the technology in partnership with early supporter Don Fleming’s Northwest Motorsport. An early adopter of the internet, Fleming grew his dealerships quickly and now sees Joydrive as an opportunity to continue that trajectory into a new era.

“The simple reality is that customers want alternatives,” says Fleming, “and we are excited to lead the industry in giving customers what they want.” Adds Durant, “Joydrive is the first and only solution I’ve seen that gives my dealerships the opportunity to win the digital customer while not sacrificing the relationships and premium experience that are so critical.”

Founder Hunter Gorham, a former Ally Financial exec, has led Joydrive from an inventory of 500 new/used vehicles in November to over 3,000 in March and expects to be at 20,000 once expansion into Texas -- second only to California across all dealership measures -- is complete.

“Joydrive is enhancing the existing dealership model by empowering dealers to provide both the online experience and national marketplace customers demand,” says Gorham. “The most canny and farsighted dealers are joining us to give consumers what they most want -- a new buying experience, while also ensuring they are in a position to adapt and grow in this next period of industry evolution. We’re making buying a car easy and even fun.”

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Greg Behr
GBW Strategies
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