Nobody likes car dealerships. Technology is finally addressing this issue as a slew of Canadian startups are disrupting the space through digitization.
If you’d rather do your car shopping online, there are options. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell—and even if you require financing—there are platforms available today determined to meet your needs.
Some startups focus on buying, others selling, others both. Some manage their own inventory while others work with dealerships. Regardless, every option is more appealing than slimy salespeople roping you into endless hours of paperwork.
Below, Techcouver highlights the best options in BC and what they have to offer Canadian car buyers.
Canada Drives – Buying & Selling
When it comes to buying a motor vehicle on the internet, the brand most people in BC have heard of is Canada Drives, which sells its own inventory.
“Canada Drives has established themselves as the market leader in online car retailing, sharing our common vision for a seamless customer experience,” Jason Mullins, CEO of Mississauga-based goeasy, which recently invested $40 million into Canada Drives.
“The new capital, alongside the strategic partnership, will enable us to grow our available inventory, enhance our market-leading service, and continue to expand across the country,” stated Cody Green, co-CEO of Canada Drives.
Canada Drives has seen “explosive growth,” more than quadrupling sales, tripling inventory, and doubling its workforce in the past year. The company is now up to 700 employees.
If you want to start somewhere, this isn’t a bad spot.
MintList – Buying & Selling
MintList this year launched “Canada’s first two-sided online vehicle marketplace.”
The Vancouver startup’s platform enables consumers to sell their privately owned vehicles at auction and also buy a new or used vehicle from inventory across a network of pre-approved dealers. From start to finish, “it takes only 10 minutes for a seller to list their vehicle for sale,” according to a statement from the BC company.
MintList guides the seller through the process, from photos to answering questions on year and mileage. MintList then builds a profile of the vehicle “using a patent-pending artificial intelligence process to determine the vehicle’s condition and automatically estimate its auction starting price.”
“Buying and selling vehicles online is the future of the retail car business in Canada, and MintList is making this entire process easy for everyone through our two-sided marketplace that provides the convenience, choice, and confidence that consumers require,” stated Mike Wood, CEO of MintList.
The startup also takes advantage of trade-in incentives to save customers money. According to a MintList survey of 300 consumers, 66% were not aware that they are entitled to significant tax savings when they trade in a vehicle and purchase another vehicle from the same dealer.
MintList recently won a Stevie Award for Tech Startup of the Year in the Software category, marking the first Canadian company to win this award, now in its 19th year. The BC startup, cofounded in 2020 by Wood and Mehrsa Raeiszadeh, secured seed capital earlier this year and counts investors such as Vancouver-based Little Green Bamboo among its backers.
VINN – Buying
The automotive industry as a whole has not adapted to the shift to online as quickly as many had predicted. Although consumers have moved online, veteran automotive OEMs still sell the majority of their vehicles to franchise dealerships that in turn sell them to the consumer primarily through bricks and mortar retail sites.
Victoria-based VINN aims to revolutionize the automotive retail model by connecting buyers and dealerships through an online platform.
VINN aims to function a tool on both the consumer and partner side. With the consumer, their vehicle experts provide vehicle options if you’re not sure what type of car you want to be buying. Once they find you a car, they will search your area for the best deal. On the other end, VINN’s dealer partners benefit from higher sale conversions and get connected with car shoppers that are ready to buy.
VINN was founded in 2019 by Caleb Bernabe, Tom Avant, and Chet Flanagan.
Autozen – Selling
Vancouver startup Autozen emerged from stealth last year with a $4.2 million funding round.
Autozen is a consumer-to-business marketplace on a mission to create an easier and more transparent way for car owners to sell their vehicles. Like MintList, Autozen wants buyers to compete for the vehicle you’re selling.
At the helm is Olivier Vincent, who brings 20 years of techpreneur experience in marketplace, mobile, and AI companies.
“One of the unique features of Autozen is the fact that dealers compete against one another to give the best offer,” he explains. “Currently when car owners trade-in their vehicles they only get an offer from a single dealer (i.e. no competition) which means they’re likely not receiving the best price possible.”
A recent $5 million seed round is keeping the startup freshly funded.
Carooga – Buying
Another player in the online vehicle purchasing and delivery business in BC is Vancouver’s Carooga.
Startup Carooga offers online car buying through a customer-friendly experience that begins on their website, where you can enjoy a 360-degree virtual test drive of every vehicle and click to buy your favourite.
Car are delivered for a week-long, risk-free test drive. Financing is available.
“Married into the car business, I’ve seen firsthand the cries for change from thousands of customers,” said Carooga’s Brand Officer Jillian Loeppky. “They want honest advice, reasonable pricing, a test drive that lasts more than a few minutes, and are all so tired of the add-ons and fees.”
Clutch – Buying & Selling
Although Clutch was technically founded in Toronto, the well-funded company has both an office and a warehouse in BC, which is the platform’s biggest market outside of Ontario.
A veteran in the niche space since 2016, the Clutch marketplace allows for vehicle buying, selling, and trade-in. Delivered cars enjoy a 10-day trial. Financing is available.