Trailblazing A New Era for the Automotive Customer

A paradigm shift is taking root in the world of automotive sales.  According to recent reports, 62% of Canadian car buyers would choose an online purchase option over an in-person retail experience.  Across Canada, shoppers express similar sentiments around wanting to spend less time in a dealership, a desire for more transparency, and a want

A paradigm shift is taking root in the world of automotive sales.  According to recent reports, 62% of Canadian car buyers would choose an online purchase option over an in-person retail experience.  Across Canada, shoppers express similar sentiments around wanting to spend less time in a dealership, a desire for more transparency, and a want for an easier shopping and purchasing process.  Amid this backdrop, Lenders, OEMs, and Dealers are looking to adopt data-driven strategies and digital tools to address these pain points and ultimately modernize the customer buying experience. 

At the intersection of this revolutionary shift is taq Automotive Intelligence, a Canadian-owned organization that is reimagining the next generation of the customer experience.  taq’s forward-thinking approach, drawn from years of experience and a depth of industry knowledge, drives them to design and deliver fintech products to support the demands of the new tech-savvy automotive consumer and ultimately, enable their Lender and OEM partners to deliver the optimal customer experience that aligns with their own strategies. 

“We aren’t a one-size fits all, cookie cutter solution”, says John Currado, president of taq.  “What differentiates us is the way we work with our partners, creating customization with our products and services to create scalability for them.  Ultimately, their success is our success”. 

From the Beginning

Originally founded as a SAAS business in the mid-90s, the company, originally branded as SCI, pioneered one of the first lead management tool platforms that consolidated online leads and delivered them to automotive Dealers and OEMs, a complementing suite of products to their existing agnostic lead delivery channel.  In 2006, the company became the exclusive lead delivery and lead management provider for General Motors US, and in the subsequent years, established lead delivery partnerships with Mazda Canada as well Ford, GM, and Honda Dealers.  Over two decades of gathering valuable lead data, the company became well-versed in the shopping and buying habits of automotive consumers, continuously updating the platform to include key measurement tools to help Dealers measure the efficacy of their engagement efforts. 

The company’s trajectory changed drastically in 2015 when they built a state-of-the-art credit portal to support SCI LeaseCorp efforts to deliver a new leasing product for all Stellantis (formally FCA) dealers/customers in conjuntion with subvented loans through Royal Bank of Canada and non-prime loans from iA Financial. This new competitive lease offering paved the way for Stellantis to reestablish a full financial suite of products to regain a competitive edge in the Canadian Market.  By bolstering the credit portal with their data-rich lead delivery and lead management platform, taq had distinction of bringing to market the first 360-degree Dealer solution to manage the full end-to-end customer buying cycle.  Agnostic in design, the platform’s interface helps Dealers manage active leads effortlessly across multiple channels and allows them to connect with customers throughout their entire buying journey.  Built with functionality to measure valuable KPIs, sales activity, and store portfolio data, it intuitively guides Dealers to make data-driven decisions to engage and reengage with their customer base. 

“We are acutely aware that building a digital strategy for automotive dealerships is crucial in an increasingly digital world’, shared Joanne Peddle, VP Product. “The need for a robust data management platform drove the design of our cutting-edge One platform in-Dealership solution, which delivers on a streamlined and connected experience for Dealers to manage leads, credit applications and their customer portfolio in one place. It’s an eco-system that uses data to help Dealers deliver a streamlined buying experience to their customers”. 

To this day, taq’s One platform remains the only solution of its kind in the Canadian marketplace. 

Challenging the status quo

2020 became a watershed moment for the organization.  CEO Alan H. Bird recognized the ongoing challenges facing the auto industry, challenges specifically driven by the savvy automotive consumers and the emerging direct-to-consumer OEMs, both of whom had different expectations around “customer experience”.  Armed with decades of extensive experience in digital retail, financial lending and competitive leasing, and an understanding of the compelling forces influencing that experience, the company was driven to evolve and rebrand as taq Automotive Intelligence. 

The rebranding also marked a change in strategy for the organization.  With their One platform fully established in the market, the company turned its attention to building a robust state-of-the-art digital retailing solution that would revolutionize the way vehicles could be bought and sold.

“Rebranding to taq Automotive Intelligence was an important milestone for our company”, says CEO Alan Bird.  “The taq Automotive Intelligence brand represents our strategy to use data and insights to design intuitive and autonomous products and services that are future-focused, rooted in Automotive Intelligence, and deliver on a connected and convenient customer experience.  We are modernizing the customer buying journey and what that is will continuously evolve.  By Building What’s Next, taq will evolve with it.” 

taq’s north star values – Continuous Improvement, Embracing Change, a Relentless Pursuit of the Uncommon, Creating Win-Wins, Building What’s Next – permeate throughout the infrastructure and culture of the organization, evidenced by processes that the team has established and continuously improve.

“We challenge our teams to explore novel ideas and look at technology through the lens of the consumer”, says Ryan Ramasra, VP Development.  “We use pop up innovation labs to evaluate technical feasibility, rotating teams who show a keen interest in innovating and experimenting around a particular project. It’s an approach that gives us a key strength in understanding quickly what the next iteration of a piece of functionality might be”. 

taq invests heavily in strategic vendor partnerships that will allow them to create more innovative products, as well as technologies that will advance the career growth of their team members.   They are committed to helping team members build out their tapestry of skill sets to fuel innovative thinking and retain their competitive edge. 

Looking ahead

This past July, taq announced a formal partnership with Vietnamese electric automaker VinFast, making VinFast the first OEM to implement taq’s intelligence-based direct-to-consumer digital retailing solution in the Canadian marketplace. By leveraging the connectivity of taq’s credit portal and their digital retailing solutionintegrated with VinFast’s website, taq has extended to VinFast the ability to govern their own customer’s buying journey. Their customers can move seamlessly from vehicle orders to financing and delivery via configuring finance payments, submitting credit applications and stipulated documents, and digitally signing their contracts. 

“Our partnership with taq is rooted in our shared desire to modernize the customer journey, providing consumers with a secure, fast and effective digital-first experience, says Wilton Wong, VinFast Canada’s VP Financial Services. “With a customer-centric philosophy, VinFast always strives to deliver the best experience to our customers, and taq is aligned with that goal.”

Next on taq’s docket is the digitization of strategic customer, SCI Lease Corp, a collaboration that will see a transformation of the automotive leasing process to a completely digital experience for the customer.  That process, fraught with inefficiencies and administrative hassles, has remained unchanged and unchallenged for decades.   By digitizing each piece of the journey for the customer, taq will introduce solutions with unparalleled convenience, transparency, and efficiency. 

John Currado shares that taq aims to collaborate with OEMs and Lenders who want to drive the consumer experience.  “However, that doesn’t mean the same thing across the board and each OEM or Lender has a unique perspective on what experience they want for their customers” he adds.  “We have no interest in being a commodity.  Our value comes from our ability to customize solutions for our OEM and Lender partners, delivering on their strategies but also positioning them for long-term growth and sustainability”. Placing Automotive Intelligence at the heart of its solutions, taq is poised to challenge the landscape of automotive sales in the Canadian marketplace, and with it, lay the foundation for how the customer experience will drive the future of vehicle sales in an increasingly digitized world.