The car loan industry is one that has not seen much innovation in recent years. Buyers still have to spend half a day or more going over financing and paperwork to actually drive home in a new or used vehicle. This is all changing now at long last, thanks to the latest entrant into this niche market by Auto Loans Peer to Peer platform DriverUp. They are the very first operation that allows investors to directly and simply become involved in auto loans that have not been readily available to the majority of investors in the past. They are also improving the process of car financing for buyers and car dealers alike by providing their streamlined and direct application platform.
DriverUp Intro & Background
What the creators of DriverUp, Sierra Auto Finance, have developed with this revolutionary new concept is an actual online auto marketplace that was constructed from the ground up to handle auto financing. Powered by their wholly owning parent company Sierra Auto Finance, they benefit greatly from this close association with the nationally known specialty car finance company. DriverUp proves to be the first opportunity for 99% of the investors' world to participate financially in auto lending activities. The platform is determined to improve on a most basic level the way that car loans are sourced and serviced, both for car purchasers and the dealers who actually sell the vehicles.
They way they go about doing this is with their easy to utilize high-technology platform. This was constructed by employing advanced data analytics and proprietary software that concentrates only on the transacting and investment securitizing of these specialty car loans. The people at Sierra Auto Finance and their new platform creation DriverUp have the real-world experience to accomplish this the right way. Their ultimate goal is to see the dealer, car buyer, and investor all walk away satisfied with the final financial arrangements and transaction.
DriverUp Founder and Management Team
DriverUp is the uniquely and wholly owned brand of specialty loan issuer Sierra Auto Finance. Their board of directors and founders are the same for the parent company and the DriverUp platform and brand.
President and CEO Samuel Ellis oversees the strategy and leadership of both Sierra and DriverUp. Before he came to Sierra, he started and served as CEO of Exeter Finance Corp. Before this, he worked as AmeriCredit's Senior VP for Risk Management. Prior to his coming to AmeriCredit, Samuel served as the VP for Risk Management for Summit Acceptance, the forerunner to Capital One Auto Finance.
Chief Operating Officer W. Brett Beebe counts more than 14 years experience in auto finance. He founded and served as President for JBC Funding until 2012. Before this, he worked in numerous management positions for AmeriCredit Corp, such as VP of National Accounts, VP of Strategic Alliances, and VP of Structured Finance. Besides working as COO for Sierra and DriverUp, he presently works for the Urban Green board.
Director of Technology Christopher Mahanna brings more than 14 years experience to the table in applications design and loan originations, and support and development for the auto finance industry. He worked in management for EFG Companies as Director of Technology and for Exeter Finance Corp as Technology Manager. Before this, he worked as Platform Architect for Provenir at AmeriCredit in their IT and Risk Management in the capacities of developer of the origination system and designer of the reports.
The loans on DriverUp are purchased in whole, not fractionally, from the platform which pre-funds them before listing them. They give you as an investor all of the relevant details on every loan, such as the car details you would be underwriting. The investor returns for these loans that start at 8% interest charges and go up are anticipated to be between 8% to 9% after the servicing charges. These loans are intensely focused on the pre-owned car market as the new car industry is dominated by the tough to compete against captive finance corporations that hand out unbelievably cheap rates so they can keep moving inventory by putting borrowers in new automobiles. The site does not say what the loan amount limits are for buying used cars nor what the time frame for repayment would be.
How DriverUp Works
DriverUp is unique from many of the peer to peer lenders on the market today because it pre-funds the loans themselves before putting them on their investor marketplace. This makes them somewhat like the crowdfunding operations in real estate, and it makes the all around experience of buying and financing a car better for both the dealer and the borrower. Borrowers learn right away if their loan has been approved.
As of time of publication, DriverUp had partnerships with several hundred auto dealers to build up the number of borrowers whom they plan to fund. DriverUp's dashboard they provide to the dealers is simple to utilize so that the customers are capable of simply completing their online applications to obtain DriverUp loans.
Enter you the investor to the platform. DriverUp requires that you start with at least $100,000 as a minimum initial investment. This would allow you to fund somewhere between approximately five and 15 whole used car loans. The distributions, which include both principal and interest payments, may be reinvested at any point by the investor in another used car loan.
- Instant Approval – All of the loans done on DriverUp are pre-funded, so borrowers (and their dealers) know instantly if they have been approved.
- Several revolutionary initiatives – The platform is busy testing out a few revolutionary car-buying and financing ideas like e-signatures, paperless car loans, and image capture documents.
- The Mobile App – heralded as the best way to make sure that the car dealers will be a part of the process and informed, the new mobile app will ensure that the old school two hours of headaches and in-dealership paperwork fades into the dustbin of history. It is already being released to selective markets now.
- Download of the DriverUp Loan Book – Allows the investors to concentrate their efforts on investments in loans for particular makes and models of cars as well as specific geographies. The platform and its book permit you as an investor to develop your own complicated credit screening model to automate your investments on the platform.
- Ease and convenience – The UI is easy to work with, investor dashboard is logical and understandable, and dealer tools are powered by company proprietary technology.
- Investor Updates on Investments – The company is not satisfied with only monthly or even quarterly updates on the investments in a given investor's portfolio. They prepare daily information on the auto loan performances in your investment portfolio. On the dashboard, you possess an access that is password-protected which will allow you to analyze your own personal monthly return summary along with individual loan performance information for every contract in which you have invested.
- Customizable Loan Detail Screen – Here you are able to slice and dice up all of the information on performance that you wish to review and analyze. You can also download this data on performance so that you have a chance to view and analyze it while offline and off-platform.
DriverUp is based in Austin, Texas, like its parent company Sierra Auto Finance. The platform's corporate headquarters is found at 601 North Lamar Boulevard, Austin, TX 78705.
DriverUp Interface Screenshots
DriverUp does not disclose much information on its site and platform pertaining to the safety of the investor and borrower information. Presumably its parent company Sierra is employing standard 128 bit SSL encryption technology to protect the transfer of customer and client data, as this is the industry standard, and they have been making auto loans commercially for several years now. Sierra does mention that they regard customer privacy as a very serious matter. This is why they restrict the access to the information that is protected and sensitive to only the employees who really need to know such information so that they can deliver world-class service to their borrowers and you their investors when you transact with them.
DriverUp Complaints and Ratings
Since DriverUp is less than a year old, there are no consumer agency ratings on its operations as of time of publication. The flip side of this is that we also found no complaints listed for them.
A little research revealed that their parent company Sierra Auto has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. They enjoy this coveted and highly sought after rating because of the amount of years they have been in business, their volume of complaints registered with the BBB on a business of this size, their best practice responses to the 55 different complaints registered against them, and their appropriate resolution of the complaints that were filed against Sierra.
In total, 55 different complaints have been closed out with the BBB over the past 36 months, of which 23 were settled in the prior 12 months.
DriverUp Customer Support
DriverUp offers an easy to find a phone number and a contact form. We like that their customer support allows borrowers to pay either online, by phone, by auto withdrawal, by mail, or by MoneyGram express payment through their wholly owned parent company Sierra Auto Finance. The staff at DriverUp are passionate about what they are doing, and this shows through in the way that they field and answer your questions when you contact their customer support people.
DriverUp Costs & Fees
The rates for borrowers on DriverUp car loans start at 8% and go up from there depending on the creditworthiness of the borrower. Investors pay a monthly servicing fee for the management of their investment account and monthly payment servicing receipts, though the amount is not disclosed on the site.
Final Words on DriverUp
DriverUp has been turning auto loans on their heads all year, but this is still a young brand and concept, as it only launched in 2015. The CEO has a wealth of relevant experience within the auto finance space which serves them well in their strategy and direction. Investors are earning around 8% to 9% on loans that are ultimately secured and considered to be relatively safe in good economic times and bad ones. For those investors who are interested in and actively seeking a means of diversifying their investments, buying into whole loans that are backed up by something more than a personal guarantee seems like a smart move these days.
- Loans backed up by an asset.
- You can search for a car, make a deal on one, and get it financed all in one stop.
- The rates are competitive compared to traditional used car lenders.
- Investors need to be prepared to hold these loans all the way to maturity, as DriverUp is not making a secondary market nor buying the loans off of their investors.
- Investors are not able to invest through their IRAs at this time.
DriverUp is shaking up the used car loan industry by offering a one-stop shop for buying and financing cars and all at an affordable and highly competitive loan rate of from 8% on used car loans. Investors are anticipated to make between 8% and 9% in annual returns on these solidly asset-backed loans which are in practice quite different from most of the loans in the crowdfunding and P2P personal unsecured loan space.