nicolas leroy

DriveK, a new platform for cars buying

May 16, 2010

[This post is supported by Sixt France car rental service.]

From TechCrunch Europe in April 2010:

DriveK says it isn’t just a new car configuration platform. The site, officially launching today at GeeknRolla, says “it’s like Kayak or MoneySuperMarket but for new cars and light commercial vehicles”.

Explaining the company’s model to the day’s first start-up panel, the company’s CEO Marco Marlia told the conference: “We’re not only a site but a platform… we want to be the de facto platform for people choosing cars across Europe.” The company already has a white label deal in Italy and is looking for more partners. Later this year DriveK will launch country-specific auto sites for the UK, France, Spain, Germany and Italy.

The site provides cast amounts of data on different car models and equipment, with the aim of hosting the “most up-to-date dataset in the industry, containing over 5,000 car models and trims and about five million equipment configurations.”

But what’s the business model? In short, qualified lead generation. Marlia says the automotive industry in the countries it’s targeting is collectively about €200 billion per year, with commission on car sales reaching about €10 billion a year.

DriveK is still in closed beta, but I’ve just received an access to test this new site. After few minutes spent on the site, I was impressed how they successfully leverage the potential of the Jato product database. Jato surely has the most comprehensive car product database, but it’s a challenge to transform this very detailed raw material into an easy-to-browse site. Some years ago, I have seen several product managers at Yahoo! Cars Europe trying to build a usable site using this database, but in the end all attempts led to very complex page navigation… On the opposite, DriveK is a pleasure to use. Quick review…

Homepage

No search form, but several entry points to browse cars:

Search result pages

Simple yet efficient…

Search result page at DriveK (May'10)

Product pages

There are two different kinds of product pages: each car model has a specific product page that lists the various trim levels available; then each trim level has a dedicated product page with very detailed information.

Product pages for each trim levels:

Product page for all trim levels:

Product page (all trim levels) at DriveK (May'10)

Product page for a specific trim level:

Product page (specific trim level) at DriveK (May'10)

But where are the offers?

When clicking on the “Quote” button available on product pages, you land on a form asking for your details – that will be used to connect customers with dealers. This “Quote” page is currently only available on the Italian site (it will be added on the UK site once the beta status will be removed, as Marco Marlia told me).

So yes, there are no offers from car dealers directly available on the site, and as such the comparison with Kayak is somehow misleading. I also suppose that DriveK is meant for users looking for new cars, not used cars.

Quote page at DriveK (May'10)

Final thoughts

As TechCrunch reported, DriveK aims to host the “most up-to-date dataset in the industry”. On this side of things, I think they’ve done an amazing job. In terms of user experience, DriveK seems to favor browse rather than search: this is an unusual choice these days… But I must say it works pretty well for cars selection.

Regarding the connection between customers and car dealers, I would have liked to have some car listings rather than a form. On a personal note, I don’t really like filling forms with personal details that will be sent to I–don’t-know-who. I think that more explanation on the “Quote” page are required to better inform customers.

In France, more and more people are looking to buy their next car in other European countries, as prices can be significantly lower. I wonder whether DriveK will try to look at this cross-border opportunity, as it has pan-European ambitions. Also, I’m curious to see if it will support both new and used cars, considering this is not only a straight choice for customers.