Car Deal Canada

Cars.com Explained

Cars.com Explained

Cars.com is one of the largest digital automotive marketplaces, connecting buyers and sellers through an intuitive online platform. Founded in 1998, it has rapidly grown to become a leading destination for researching, buying, selling, and managing vehicles online.


With over 4.9 million new and used car listings, Cars.com provides unparalleled selection and transparency. Its advanced search filters, vehicle history reports, price analysis tools, and user reviews simplify the process for consumers to find their perfect car. For dealers and sellers, it offers robust advertising, analytics and lead generation solutions to reach high-intent buyers.


In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the history of Cars.com, overview of its products and services, business model, future outlook, and more. Whether you are looking to buy, sell or conduct research – Cars.com aims to provide the most seamless end-to-end experience.

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History and Launch of Cars.com

Cars.com was launched in June 1998 as one of the first online automotive marketplaces. It was developed by a consortium of major media companies including Gannett, Tribune, Graham Holdings, and A.H. Belo.

The goal was to create a comprehensive platform for buying, selling, and researching vehicles online. In the early days, Cars.com focused on listing new vehicle inventory from dealerships across the country.

By 2000, just two years after launch, Cars.com had expanded nationwide in the United States. It was one of the few automotive marketplaces with listings in all 50 states. This rapid growth was fueled by the partnerships with leading media groups.

A key highlight from the early days was establishing the Cars.com brand as a trusted source for online automotive shopping. The company focused on building consumer awareness through print and TV campaigns.

 

Acquisition by Gannett and Spin-off

Cars.com was originally launched in 1998 as an independent company formed by a consortium of media outlets. In 2004, the company was acquired by media giant Gannett. Gannett operated Cars.com for over a decade as part of its digital media portfolio.

In June 2017, Gannett spun off Cars.com as an independent publicly traded company. The spin-off enabled Cars.com to operate with greater focus and flexibility as a standalone digital automotive marketplace. As an independent company, Cars.com was positioned to enhance its platform, expand its customer base, and deliver increased value to its shareholders.

 

Overview of Cars.com’s Platform and Services

Cars.com provides a comprehensive platform for buying, selling, researching, and managing vehicles. Some key elements of its offerings include:

 

New and used vehicle listings – Cars.com has over 4.9 million vehicles listed for sale currently from over 40,000 dealers nationwide. Shoppers can search through one of the largest inventories of vehicles across all makes and models.

 

Vehicle research tools – The platform provides detailed pricing analysis, comparison tools, expert and consumer reviews, recall checks, specifications, and other resources to research vehicles thoroughly before buying.

 

Buyer tools – For a streamlined purchasing process, Cars.com offers finance rate checks, payment calculators, cash offers on trade-ins, and more. Users can get pre-qualified for financing as well.

 

Seller tools – On the seller side, Cars.com provides customized advertising plans, lead generation services, inventory management systems, analytics, and solutions to market and sell vehicles efficiently.

With its end-to-end digitally integrated platform, Cars.com aims to create transparency and confidence for buyers as well as provide comprehensive solutions for sellers.

 

Value Proposition for Buyers

Cars.com offers significant value for car buyers with its comprehensive selection, transparent pricing, robust research tools, and wealth of user-generated content. Some of the key elements of Cars.com’s value proposition for buyers include:

 

Wide selection and transparent pricing – With over 4.9 million new and used car listings from over 40,000 dealers nationwide, Cars.com offers an unparalleled inventory for buyers to search. The marketplace provides VIN-specific pricing and full dealer price lists for transparency.

 

Vehicle history reports and recall checks – Buyers can purchase comprehensive vehicle history reports from Cars.com to get details on prior accidents, ownership, service records, and title issues. The platform also provides free recall checks to identify any open safety recalls on vehicles.

 

Intuitive search filters and comparisons – Cars.com makes it easy for buyers to find their ideal car with filters for price, mileage, features, vehicle type, and more. Side-by-side vehicle comparisons help make the right choice.

 

User reviews and ratings – Authentic first-hand reviews of vehicles and dealers on Cars.com provide buyers with insights from other owners’ experiences. With over 13 million ratings and reviews, these aid the buying decision.

 

Value Proposition for Sellers

Cars.com provides a robust platform for vehicle sellers to connect with motivated buyers across the country. Some of the key benefits for sellers include:

 

Lead Generation and Inventory Management

With over 27 million monthly visitors, Cars.com delivers a high volume of quality leads to sellers. Dealers can easily manage their inventory and vehicle listings in real-time through Cars.com’s dealer portal. As soon as a vehicle is sold, the listing can be removed to keep the online inventory accurate.

 

Advertising and Analytics Solutions

Cars.com offers customizable advertising solutions to help sellers promote their inventory and stand out. Detailed analytics provide insights into ad performance, lead quality, and return on investment. Dealers can optimize their ad spend and target in-market buyers more effectively.

 

National Reach to Millions of Buyers

With its nationwide presence, Cars.com allows sellers to reach buyers across the U.S. Lower distribution costs coupled with targeted advertising expands a dealer’s geographic customer base. Smaller local dealers can gain exposure on par with larger dealer groups.

 

Business Model and Revenue Sources of Cars.com

Cars.com operates on a subscription-based model for dealerships and retailers. Dealers pay a monthly fee to list their inventory on Cars.com and access various advertising and analytics tools. This provides Cars.com with a steady, recurring revenue stream from its dealer partners.

In addition to dealer subscriptions, Cars.com generates advertising revenue from auto manufacturers who pay to promote their makes and models on the site. Strategic partnerships with insurance companies and auto lenders also drive additional revenue through commissions and lead generation.

Cars.com also profits from the sale of vehicle history reports to potential buyers. Shoppers can purchase these reports to get a comprehensive background check on a used vehicle before purchasing.

This diversified revenue model allows Cars.com to offer its services to buyers for free, while still generating substantial income from dealers, OEMs, and other partners on the platform.

 

Revenue Sources of Cars.com

Cars.com generates revenue from multiple sources through its digital marketplace platform:

 

Subscriptions from Dealers and Retailers

The majority of Cars.com’s revenue comes from subscription fees charged to auto dealerships and retailers. Dealers pay a monthly subscription fee to list their vehicle inventory on Cars.com and access tools for inventory management, analytics, and lead generation.

 

Advertising from Manufacturers

Vehicle manufacturers like Ford, Honda, Toyota also pay advertising fees to promote their makes and models on Cars.com. Advertising solutions include display ads, sponsored listings, vehicle detail pages, editorial features, and video ads.

 

Strategic Partnerships

Cars.com has formed strategic partnerships with auto insurance companies, lenders, and other players to cross-sell relevant offers to consumers on its platform. These partnerships provide an additional revenue stream through commissions or revenue sharing agreements.

 

Sale of Vehicle History Reports

Cars.com allows consumers to purchase detailed vehicle history reports from partners like Carfax and Autocheck for used car listings. It earns a commission from the sale of these reports to potential buyers.

 

Technology Innovation

Cars.com has made significant investments in artificial intelligence and machine learning to enhance the automotive buying and selling experience. Some key innovations include:

 

Improving end-to-end transactions – Cars.com uses AI to analyze vehicle history, price trends, and consumer preferences to generate real-time, guaranteed offers for vehicles. This streamlines the selling process and provides transparency and efficiency for buyers and sellers.

 

Expanding through acquisitions – The company has made strategic acquisitions to add new capabilities like Accu-Trade’s vehicle valuation technology which leverages machine learning for accurate price assessments.

Cars.com also utilizes AI in applications like chatbots on its sites to improve customer experience. The company is committed to continuous innovation to make transactions faster while reducing friction for users.

 

Cars.com Mobile Apps

Cars.com offers free iOS and Android apps to enhance the car shopping experience on mobile devices. The apps allow users to search new and used car listings, access pricing and comparison tools, calculate payments, get price drop alerts and more – all on the go.

Key features of the Cars.com apps include:

 

  • Intuitive search with filters for make, model, price, mileage etc.
  • Vehicle research tools like price analysis, comparisons, reviews, recall checks
  • Payment calculators, affordability metrics, and financing rate checks
  • Price drop alerts and saved search notifications
  • Scan VIN barcodes to pull up listing details
  • Car maintenance reminders and cost estimator

 

The iOS app has a 4.7 rating based on over 5,400 user reviews, while the Android app is rated 4.5 based on over 100,000 reviews. Users praise the intuitive interface, robust tools and real-time inventory access of the apps. The seamless integration with the Cars.com website along with native app performance are other highlights.

 

Cars.com for Dealerships

Cars.com provides a robust platform for dealerships and retailers to connect with in-market car buyers. The tools and solutions offered help dealers effectively advertise their inventory, generate high-quality leads, manage their inventory, analyze performance, and build their reputation.

Some key features of Cars.com for dealers include:

 

Advertising and Lead Generation

Dealers can showcase their vehicle inventory to 27 million monthly site visitors. Targeted display ads and sponsored listings help generate leads. Dealers also get access to exclusive buyer leads and can communicate directly with interested shoppers.

 

Inventory Management

With seamless inventory integration, dealers can easily upload their vehicle catalog in real-time. Inventory merchandising tools allow optimizing vehicle details to boost visibility. Dealers can track inventory analytics to adjust pricing and model mix.

 

Analytics and Reporting

Cars.com provides dealers with an analytics dashboard to track visits, leads, impressions, clicks, and other metrics. Dealers can measure ROI on their advertising campaigns and optimize performance.

 

Reputation Management

By monitoring customer reviews, dealers can respond promptly and build credibility. The platform allows managing and promoting dealership ratings and reviews to showcase reputation.

 

The Future of Cars.com

Cars.com is poised for continued growth and innovation in the coming years. The company aims to further consolidate its position as the leading digital automotive marketplace. Some key areas of future development include:

 

Growth Outlook and Market Position

With its nationwide reach, comprehensive platform and strong brand awareness, Cars.com is well-positioned to grow its audience and revenue. The company will focus on enhancing its end-to-end transaction solutions to create a frictionless buying and selling experience. This can help attract more shoppers and retain existing customers.

 

New Developments

Cars.com plans to launch instant, guaranteed offers for selling vehicles directly through its platform. This will provide a quick and convenient option for consumers looking to sell their cars. The company is also investing heavily in artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to deliver more personalized recommendations and tailored experiences to users.

 

Expanding Offerings and Reach

The company aims to expand its service offerings and capabilities through strategic acquisitions and partnerships. This can allow Cars.com to enter new verticals within the automotive sector. The company also plans to grow its audience reach by enhancing its mobile apps and making them the go-to automotive solution for consumers across devices.

 

Competitor Analysis

Cars.com faces competition from other major online automotive marketplaces. Here is an overview of its key competitors:

 

Autotrader

Owned by Cox Automotive, Autotrader has over 4 million vehicle listings and attracts around 14 million unique monthly visitors. It provides similar buying and selling tools as Cars.com, including price analysis, vehicle history reports, reviews etc. Autotrader has a strong brand recognition but Cars.com offers a more user-friendly interface and search experience.

 

TrueCar

TrueCar focuses more on new car listings and connecting users with local dealers based on pricing data. It has around 8 million monthly visitors. TrueCar emphasizes upfront pricing and transparency but has a smaller used car inventory compared to Cars.com.

 

CarGurus

CarGurus attracts over 20 million monthly visitors with its vast vehicle listings and proprietary algorithms to recommend good deals. However, Cars.com has more holistic end-to-end solutions. CarGurus mainly makes money from dealer subscriptions while Cars.com has more diversified revenue streams.

While facing tough competition, Cars.com retains leadership in terms of brand awareness and consumer reach. Its marketplace model also allows for more collaboration, instead of direct competition, with other sites. Continued product innovation and nationwide scale positions Cars.com well versus rivals.

 

Conclusion

Cars.com has fundamentally transformed automotive buying and selling with its comprehensive digital marketplace platform. Over 20+ years, it has consolidated its leadership through continued innovation and nationwide reach.

Key highlights include its robust inventory of new and used vehicles, intuitive search tools, and integrated end-to-end solutions for buyers and sellers. Cars.com adds transparency to car shopping while providing dealers and OEMs an effective channel for lead generation and targeted marketing.

With over 27 million monthly visitors and 4.9 million vehicle listings, Cars.com will continue enhancing its offerings. Investments in AI, machine learning, and strategic acquisitions will further grow its portfolio. As consumer preferences evolve, Cars.com is poised to shape the future of automotive retail.

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Questions About Cars.com

Cars.com Canada is the Canadian version of the Cars.com digital automotive marketplace. It connects Canadian car buyers with car dealers and private sellers to help them buy and sell new and used vehicles online.



Cars.com Canada provides listings for over 500,000 new and used vehicles from thousands of auto dealers across Canada. This makes it the largest online automotive marketplace in the country.

Cars.com Canada provides listings for vehicles in all 10 Canadian provinces – British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Yes. Cars.com Canada allows customers to read and write reviews of specific dealerships across the country. This provides helpful information on dealership service quality, prices, professionalism and more to help buyers choose.



Yes, Cars.com Canada allows private party sellers to create a free ad to sell their used car. You can upload photos, set a price and communicate with interested buyers who contact you through the site.

Cars.com Canada makes money through selling monthly subscription packages to auto dealers across Canada. These packages allow dealers to showcase inventory on Cars.com Canada and connect with motivated buyers.

Yes. Cars.com Canada has been operating since 1998, provides very detailed listings, and has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau demonstrating its trustworthiness. The site also has strong security measures to protect user data.

Cars.com Canada offers over 30 search filters to find the perfect vehicle including make, model, year, price, mileage, exterior color, drivetrain, fuel economy, body type, engine specs and more. Advanced search filters help easily narrow options.

Yes, Cars.com Canada has iOS and Android mobile apps that allow car shoppers to search vehicle listings, view photos/prices and contact sellers while on the go. The app provides the full functionality of the website.

No, Cars.com Canada does not directly provide car loans or financing. However, the site allows you to submit a single loan application through Canada Drives to receive personalized rates from a nationwide network of lenders and dealers.

Cars.com Canada uses advanced data analytics to provide very accurate used vehicle value estimates customized to the Canadian market. Estimates match closely to actual selling prices.



Yes. Cars.com Canada partners with EPOCH Inspection Services to allow buyers to conveniently book inspections with ASE-certified mechanics at the location of the used vehicle they are interested in buying.

Yes. The Cars.com Canada editorial team provides very helpful pricing reports and guides on their site to educate buyers on real market values, negotiation tactics, and how to get the best deal.

Cars.com Canada itself does not handle payments as it connects buyers with third-party sellers. Accepted payment options depend on the individual seller, but commonly include credit/debit card, bank transfer, cash, and financing.

Cars.com Canada does not directly handle trade-ins. However buyers can get an estimated trade-in value before contacting dealers listed on Cars.com Canada to discuss combining a trade-in on their lot with the new car purchase.



Yes, Cars.com Canada provides information on the latest purchase incentives, cash rebates, manufacturer discounts and financing deals available on new cars sold by Canadian dealers listed on their platform.

Yes, Cars.com Canada provides a fully bilingual website and mobile app available both in English and French. This caters towards French-speaking buyers in Quebec and other regions.

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