When TrueCar first came out the dealers hated them. Dealers would fight each other to “win” and give the best price to the interested buyer, often at a loss. Then this new price would lower the average price, reset the lowest price sold car and the cycle would start again. Dealers hated it so much that they fought back. But TrueCar didn’t fight back.
Why? Because TrueCar’s true customer, i.e. the ones that pay them, are in fact the dealers. Every time someone enters their personal information and the details of the car they are interested in, that information is sold to the dealers. The dealers then bombard you with spammy emails and phone calls if you were naive enough to give them your real number. TrueCar provides real leads, not the soft leads from Glengarry Glen Ross.
So TrueCar adjusted the information provided to website visitors so that dealers no longer fought for your single car deal. Instead TrueCar somehow now provides you with a price that is still below MSRP, still below factory invoice, still below “average” paid (however that is calculated) and yet still with room for a nice profit for the dealer.
Now this is an actual win-win. TrueCar provides a nice service to both car buyers and car dealers. It provides solid leads to dealers and it provides useful information to buyers. However, it should be clear, that the TrueCar price may not be the lowest price available. It might be the lowest price available within the dealers that have signed up with TrueCar but not necessarily the lowest price with dealers outside of TrueCar’s network.
So, bottom line is that the TrueCar price is really just the new starting point for negotiations, albeit one much closer to the true trading price. You should still shop around by email or phone. Use the TrueCar price as the starting point.