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Car buying via text message

By Tara Baukus Mello · Bankrate.com
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Posted: 6 am ET

Communicating via text message is hugely popular these days, yet there has been no easy way for car dealers to use this method of communication with car shoppers and still remain compliant with regulations. The Seattle-based Carcode.me plans to change all that with a $20,000 cash prize it earned in the recent Hackomotive competition sponsored by Edmunds.com.

The three-day "Shark Tank"-style hackathon brought together 12 teams to showcase ideas and products that make the car-shopping process easier. A team of seven judges evaluated the competitors' ideas on the improvement to the existing car-shopping process, the perceived trustworthiness of the product, likelihood of real-world adoption, product quality and presentation quality.

The judges awarded the $20,000 grand prize to Carcode.me, a website plug-in that gives dealerships a phone number for mobile shoppers to text and provides the dealerships an app that allows the staff to respond in a compliant environment. There are numerous federal and state regulations for auto dealers, particularly when it comes to the car loan part of the car-buying process.

Second place and a $10,000 prize went to Team Au.to for an automotive-specific search engine, while third place and $5,000 went to Team Showroom for a website that says it offers a "visceral car research experience."

Would you use a car-buying app?

Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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