BuildGroup, an operator-led, permanent capital investment company focused on modern business models, announced its investment in DigniFi,, an AI-powered SaaS-plus financial platform that connects consumers with lenders for auto parts, repairs and services. BuildGroup led DigniFi’s $14 million Series A round.

“By engaging all three audiences—lenders, customers and dealers – DigniFi is building a true marketplace that will only continue to grow as its machine learning system expands, it collects more data and as the number of lenders on its platform grows.”

The financing positions DigniFi and its network of 5,000 auto service center partners to get Americans back on the road at a moment when automobiles are more essential than ever. In addition, the company has signed an agreement with Neuberger Berman Private Equity to purchase up to $275 million of assets. Leveraging data from more than $120 million in loan originations to date, its online machine learning platform is powered by proprietary data sets and advanced automotive analytics to deliver access to customized loan offerings for consumers in need of car repairs.

“This round of financing further supports DigniFi’s expansion into a fully integrated, AI-powered SaaS-plus platform for point-of-sale financing at auto service centers,” said Jim Curry, co-founder and managing partner of BuildGroup. “By engaging all three audiences – lenders, customers and dealers – DigniFi is building a true marketplace that will only continue to grow as its machine learning system expands, it collects more data and as the number of lenders on its platform grows.”

New-Car Prices Jump

July 02, 2020

The valuation analysts at Kelley Blue Book reported the estimated average transaction price for a light vehicle in the United States was $38,530 in June 2020. New-vehicle prices increased $1,141 (up 3.1 percent) from June 2019, while rising $160 (up 0.4 percent) from last month.   

“Though Q2 sales are expected to be down 35 percent due to COVID-19 and the ensuing economic recession, transaction prices over this time strengthened more than normal,” said Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “The industry average climbed 3 percent– helped by increases in non-luxury cars—and light truck sales mix at around 75 percent of the total market. Today’s new-car buyers are likely more financially secure despite the economic uncertainty, and they are purchasing a disproportionate number of trucks and SUVs. However, buyers are still shying away from luxury brands, which saw prices dip 1.5 percent.”

Supply and inventory challenges remain a concern across many parts of the country and in high-demand segments, due to factory shutdowns this past spring, and slow supply chain ramp-ups since. Along with a recent resurgence in used-car values, this will likely keep prices elevated during the summer months.

Cars continued their comeback, showing improvements of all body styles and averaging 3 percent gains. Compact cars led the way with nearly 4 percent increases, thanks in part to the new Sentra. Mid-size SUVs had the biggest jump of any segment, rising 6 percent on the redesigned Ford Explorer (up 12 percent), Jeep Wrangler (up 5 percent), and the all-new Hyundai Palisade, which sells for $42,516 on average, $2,000 higher than the segment average. Lastly, the mix of SUVs and trucks is still pushing the average new-vehicle price up, with June’s light truck mix expected to be around 76 percent, up from 71 percent one year ago.

Carvana has launched CarvanaACCESS, a direct-purchase platform that gives independent and franchised dealers the ability to buy wholesale vehicles from Carvana. As consumer trade-ins and other wholesale vehicles are processed at Carvana locations across the country, they will be made available on CarvanaACCESS.com in a “timed bid” online auction enabled through a partnership with Manheim Digital. All vehicles on CarvanaACCESS are presented with full condition information and 360-degree imagery, ensuring buyers are informed and armed with detailed information in making their bidding and buying decisions.

“This direct purchase platform unlocks the full potential of Carvana’s capabilities matched with technology modules from Manheim Digital, creating a whole new way to buy wholesale, directly from Carvana. We look forward to working with even more wholesale customers to provide them with our incredibly diverse inventory and national network,” said Scott Wood, senior director of wholesale operations at Carvana.

DealerSocket  announced that its award-winning DealerFire website platform earned acceptance into the Honda Dealer Website Solutions Certified Program. This certification means DealerSocket’s DealerFire website platform is immediately available to Honda’s approximately 1,000 U.S. dealers.

Today’s announcement marks the 20th OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) certification for DealerFire, which completed Honda's robust selection process that measured best-in-class services, a national reach, and extensive automotive industry expertise.

Analysts at Edmunds report that June will be another down month for auto sales as the industry continues to combat challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, forecasting that 1,080,656 new cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S. in June for an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 12.8 million. This reflects a 28.7 percent decrease in sales from June 2019 and a 3.6 percent decrease from May 2020.

“It comes as no surprise that the second quarter was a disappointing one for the automotive industry, but the good news is that auto sales didn’t come to a complete standstill either,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds’ executive director of insights. “The fact that retail sales — not fleet — are what kept the market propped up speaks volumes to the resilience of the American consumer. And the way that dealers were quick to pivot to online sales also underscores the incredibly responsive and resourceful nature of the industry in the face of adversity.”

Edmunds experts note that sales are also down for the second quarter in a row this year, forecasting sales of 2,914,860 new cars and trucks in the second quarter, which reflects a 34.3 percent decrease from the second quarter of 2019.

“The marketplace is growing less inviting as automakers pull back on incentives and inventory dwindles due to factory shutdowns, particularly when it comes to trucks, which have been the one bright spot for sales during the pandemic,” Caldwell said.

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