Google is restructuring its car buying tools, and part of the process means shutting down its Google Cars shopping service. Launched a little more than a year ago with expectations that it would disrupt the auto sales industry, other early commentary noted that some dealers were already unhappy with the way the service worked and that Google Cars would need to overcome their issues in order to succeed. Rolled out in the San Francisco Bay Area, the service worked by showing local inventory in the area when you searched for a car at the Google.com page. Cars appeared above the traditional search results, and if you clicked on one you were taken to a page with more options and the ability to refine the search.

Dealers paid a fee for the lead if a buyer clicked to contact them and get a quote, that fee said to be a little higher than with traditional channels. But dealers didn't like the fact that all of the contact options were anonymous – a shopper got a disposable e-mail and phone number that was active only as long as the shopper responded; after six unreturned phone calls, for instance, the phone number would no longer be valid. That hampered dealers' follow-up opportunities.

The service actually shuttered at the end of January this year, but Google still has plenty of tools like surveys and mobile - it's just that none of them so overtly make the search giant a paid middleman between dealers and buyers. Search for a car on Google now, and you get an info box next to the results with information on the vehicle, but no options in that box will lead you to a dealer.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 7 Comments
      sstowes
      • 9 Months Ago
      I haven't used many of the services personally, but of the ones I have used, I'm partial to Cargurus.com. Knowing what is and isn't a good deal (or even an excellent deal) is the best way to go. Google's record has been a bit hit-or-miss in regards to its ventures and/or acquisitions.
        fran
        • 9 Months Ago
        @sstowes
        Yup! Travis Griffith is my good and honest friend to rely on car recommendation and a great writer too.
      Jake
      • 9 Months Ago
      This version probably wasn't collecting enough personal information so they need to revise it a bit.
      nissanofhampton
      • 9 Months Ago
      why anyone would pay to join a site to buy a car is mind numbing. If the buy would visit a few web sites to find costs and then offer the dealer a fair profit it would make this process so much easier. But everyone goes out and buys a book or joins a service to find a way to screw the dealer out of a fair profit. The buyer has actually makes this much harder than it has to be!
        me
        • 9 Months Ago
        @nissanofhampton
        No one wants to deal with car dealerships. They add zero value to the transaction. If they all went out of business tomorrow I would not shed a single tear.
        tump
        • 9 Months Ago
        @nissanofhampton
        The buyer didn't pay the fee, the referee did. On one hand, this was a consumer protection layer and on the other hand, it wasn't popular (I had never heard of it and I'm in the target audience and in SFBA.) Seems like a weak effort on Google's part (and in a long line of weak efforts.)
      Phoneboy101
      • 9 Months Ago
      I like this concept. I buy cars often. Where I live there is one privately owned website that has gotten the lions-share of car listings in the region, both private and dealer, but it still misses some of them. I'd like to see a more comprehensive resource.