DriveItAway CEO John Possumato says that for a while he was a “voice in the wind” when he outlined his fledgling business initiative in which auto dealers provide ride-hailing drivers with rent-to-own vehicles.
Now, he regularly is invited to speak at automotive-industry conferences, including overseas.
“Judging from how many associations want to hear about this now as opposed to last year, the topic is becoming very timely,” he tells Wards.
Potential ride-sharing drivers looking for a vehicle they eventually want to own outright download the DriveItAway app that shows what’s available on participating dealers’ lots.
Tapping into dealer inventory and offering a path to ownership is unique and appealing, Possumato says. “There is no getting around the fact that long term, it is much more economical for ride-share drivers to own their vehicle. Drivers realize that.”
The program and its customized software also serve dealers who are interested in participating in the mobility-as-a-service movement “but don’t want to invest a lot of money in programs that don’t scale,” he says.
DriveItAway doesn’t charge dealers a fee for participating in the turnkey program but takes 15% of revenues on the rental rate. “I don’t make a dime up front,” says Possumato believes dealers are perfectly positioned – because of their local locations, inventories and service departments – to play a big role in ride-sharing.
The would-be professional drivers typically buy 3- or 4-year-old cars such as a fuel-efficient midsize sedan that’s in good shape but has some miles on it.
Many prospective buyers have subprime credit and lack a down payment. DriveItAway helps in those areas. “We made the industry’s first move of offering free credit repair for all drivers on our platform,” Possumato says. The company also offers a plan in which it fronts a $300 down payment.
But deadbeats need not apply. “With permission, credit scores are checked at the dealership,” he says.
His company allows Lyft and Uber drivers to use ride-sharing driving as a way to own a vehicle “without being locked into an endless cycle of high-cost temporary rentals or short-term leases,” he says.
He calls it an all-around win. “Ride-sharing companies love it because it increases their driver count, it hits a hot button with dealers and drivers get a car to earn money and improve their credit.”
The program was piloted a year ago. “Now we are in serious expansion mode,” says Possumato, an MBA graduate from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.