Walmart says auto retailing venture won't sell cars directly
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s venture into auto retailing will come through several degrees of separation.
Wal-Mart won't sell cars directly, nor will it partner directly with dealers. Instead, the nation's largest retailer will lease space in select stores to its partner, CarSaver, an online auto retail platform, much as it leases space to McDonald's and others.
CarSaver, in turn, will connect shoppers with the dealership groups and lenders that it has partnered with, such as AutoNation Inc. and Ally Financial.
This clarification of an earlier Automotive News article -- which mischaracterized Wal-Mart's relationship with dealership groups -- is the result of information provided by several of the parties involved.
CarSaver's program allows customers to structure a deal and connect with local dealerships that CarSaver has certified, as well as lenders and insurers, from Wal-Mart Supercenters. So far, CarSaver has had a space in a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Stuart, Fla., for about one year, Wal-Mart spokeswoman Molly Blakeman said.
"It is not uncommon for us to test different customer offerings in our stores using our leased spaces. We currently have a one-store pilot underway with CarSaver in Stuart, Fla., and are still evaluating customer response," Blakeman said.
Blakeman said she could not confirm that CarSaver will launch in other markets. But CarSaver and AutoNation last week confirmed the program will launch in Houston, Dallas, Phoenix and Oklahoma City on April 1.
This will not be Wal-Mart's first foray into connecting its customers with cars and trucks. The company's members-only Sam's Club stores have an affiliation with third-party vehicle shopping site TrueCar.