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AutoCon 2012 Announces TrueCar Sponsored Full Ride Scholarship Program

Automotive Media Partners, LLC and First Class Educators are proud to announce the creation of a scholarship program sponsored by TrueCar of Santa Monica, California.  TrueCar’s pioneering sponsorship of this program provides the funds to cover the costs of transportation to and from Las Vegas, local transfers, lodging at the Aria Resort and full AutoCon conference registration.  One of the most surprising aspects of TrueCar’s sponsorship is that the company has fully funded twelve (12) AutoCon Full Ride Scholarships.  A dozen automotive professionals will receive the educational, networking, inspiration and innovation benefits from attending the AutoConnections Conference and Exposition at no out of pocket expense for travel, meals or conference fees to themselves or their dealerships. 

The TrueCar AutoCon Scholarship Program is further evidence of the remarkable transformation that has taken place at TrueCar since the beginning of 2012. After receiving a remarkable level of criticism within the auto industry during the second half of 2011, TrueCar has evolved and revised their automotive purchasing programs for consumers and affiliated corporations to be far more dealer friendly.  TrueCar’s objectives supported by these changes have included raising dealer profit margins to levels that provide more room for dealers to cover facility costs and the staffing levels needed to properly service new vehicle buyers sent to them by TrueCar.   

TrueCar understands and recognizes the need for ongoing training and thought leadership within the ranks of the retail automotive industry.  Their management team has decided that one of the best ways to demonstrate this commitment to betterment of the industry is to commit the funds necessary to support independent dealer focused educational events such as AutoCon 2012.  TrueCar executives Bernie Brenner and Mike Timmons approached the founders of the Automotive Digital Marketing and dealerElite professional communities, Ralph Paglia, Chris Saraceno and Mike Myers because these online networks have served as “Ground Zero” for some of the industry’s harshest criticism of TrueCar in the recent past.  Surprising for a company as large as TrueCar is, their management team has reviewed the criticism published by members of the ADM and DealerELITE networks and taken corrective actions, changed their business models and worked with State dealer associations to create vehicle purchase programs that make sense for participating dealers. 

How will the TrueCar AutoCon Scholarships be Awarded?

TrueCar has asked that the AutoConnections Conference Management Team take full control and responsibility for ensuring that the 12 Full Ride Scholarships be awarded based on merit and need.  Criteria will include a wide geographic representation by selecting automotive professionals from every region in North America.  Another consideration will be to award scholarships to professionals who represent a diverse range of vehicle brands and positions within the dealerships they serve.   The application process will be a simple online application that includes all the expected contact information, a description of the applicant’s role in the dealership where they work and space for them to describe in their own words why they should be awarded a TrueCar AutoCon Scholarship to attend the AutoConnections Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas from September 5th to the 8th.  The AutoCon Scholarship Selection Committee is comprised of Ralph Paglia, Chris Saraceno, Mike Myers, Carrie Hemphill and Brian Pasch.  As applicants are being considered they will be contacted by a committee member and interviewed via phone and email.  Final selections will be made by committee vote and the awardees notified by email and phone.

Applications for TrueCar AutoCon Scholarships will be accepted starting Monday July 16 and award selections will begin Monday August 6, 2012.

With 12 TrueCar AutoCon Scholarships being awarded, the odds of being selected are probably better than any other similar program in the auto industry… So, do not hesitate to apply and encourage other automotive professionals to do so!  All of us who are stakeholders in the AutoCon event are thrilled with the investment being made by TrueCar to support what we believe is the best event in the auto industry.  The TrueCar sponsorship of AutoCon 2012 and the Full Ride Scholarship Program is appreciated and respected.  TrueCar is a company that has received an enormous amount of criticism, much of which has been emotionally charged and at times, crossed the boundaries of decency and professional behavior.  Many other companies faced with similar criticism and public ridicule would have released a barrage of legal actions to defend themselves.  TrueCar has consistently taken the high road and responded to their critics with program changes and sending their senior executives to major auto industry events and meetings.  The TrueCar sponsorship of AutoCon is further proof that this company is led by professionals who want to be valuable contributors to the overall success of the auto industry.

On behalf of the AutoCon team and the 12 auto industry professionals who will receive the benefit of these scholarship awards, a sincere thank you to TrueCar is extended.

  • Ralph Paglia
  • Chris Saraceno
  • Mike Myers
  • Carrie Hemphill
  • Brian Pasch 


Apply for a TrueCar AutoCon Scholarship online at


Join the ADM Professional Community at and the DealerELITE network at

Tags: 2012, Announces, AutoCon, Full, Program, Ride, Scholarship, Sponsored, TrueCar

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Replies to This ADM Discussion


There was a lot of discussion with the AutoCon team and other industry leaders in considering the sponsorship. With respect to Jim, as a keynote speaker, he was first on my list.  I personally am looking forward to hearing him. I hope that you will be there as well. 



I hope AutoCon will be a success but I will not be in attendance. Having TrueCar sponsor AutoCon is like having the tobacco industry sponsor a healthy lifestyle convention. Awkward at best and sinister at worst. I don't trust Scott Painter and I'm sure Jim Ziegler doesn't either.

Take a look a look at some Painter comments on the auto industry from just last month:

“It’s an entrenched, monopolistic system,” said Painter.  “The auto industry is really the last to change.  It has long-time contributors to the lobbying fund.  It’s incredibly protectionist.”

“Once something becomes unkillable, it becomes accepted,” said Painter.

So I leave you with famous adage: "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts."


Couldn't help but laugh out loud on that comment. I understand and am sorry we won't have the chance to meet. Maybe at a future event. Best wishes and happy selling.


Patrick for the WIN!

Mike, Ralph, and to the rest of the Autocon team. I feel like you guys are acting like the "typical" car dealer. YOUR NOT LISTENING TO YOUR CUSTOMERS! These people are the ones paying to go to AutoCon where I'm sure your not doing it for free, or out of the goodness of your heart. Your doing it to not only help the industy improve but to put a few bucks in your pocket as you should. We, the cusotmers are speaking up and saying (in my own words) "Get lost True Car, I hope you rot in hell". =) I wish you guys would just listen a little more... Just my $.02. Again, I won't be attending 100% because of True Car.


I'm not a salesperson. I'm the Social Media Director for an auto group. What TrueCar does has little to no direct effect on my salary. But there are a lot of decent hardworking people here at my auto group who depend on commissions to feed their families. I can't go to a conference that's sponsored by someone who hurts their bottom line.

IMO, why don't we just start a company that reports TrueCar's actual costs to do business and offer to work on lesser margins to win over TrueCars business? It's a business death spiral to zero and I just can't get on board with this type of business practice. Happy selling at AutoCon.


I respect your position but disagree that TRUECar's business is a death spiral. I would have agreed that may have been the case previously had TC not implemented many of the recent changes including; not displaying the lowest dealers price in the portal and making dealers justify displaying pricing below cost. Both very important changes to TRUECar dealer pricing tool that reinforce pricing discipline. In my previous position, I was responsible for pricing vehicles in ten states, across multiple markets and at all trim levels. My team sold over 13,000 vehicles on the Zag/TRUECar platform through a centralized BDC and I was rarely the lowest price in the market but relied on process and customer service. We didn't make great PVR or commissions on all vehicles but many vehicles we killed it and the margins and subsequent commissions were great. The stores also benefited from stair step money and high CSI drove customers back to our service departments. TRUECar has relationships with over 100 of the premier Affinity groups in the country including USAA, Consumer Reports, AAA, American Express, Geico, Progressive, and many more. We currently work with over 4600 dealerships with hardworking people responsible for their families as well and we will continue to market and develop programs to support them. Maybe.... just maybe, in the future our teams will work together .



I wonder if you would publish a statement, on TrueCar's web site, that you "killed it" in many car deal profits, using USAA/ZAG/TrueCar, in your dealer days. Is that what TrueCar wants to Truely convey or are you trying to, now, play both sides of the fence, on behalf of TrueCar? Many of your statements have a lack of credibility, based on TrueCar's business model, in favor (highly) of the consumer. Actions speak much louder than words. The majority of dealers have made their decision on TrueCar. Your company's actions were heard loud and clear. They overshadow your statements, in their defense. Google Cars wants your spot. It seems they'll be joining you soon. You'll have someone that understands you. Franchise Owners don't want portions of their profits to bleed out on Wall Street, with stock company's and IPO's. They now see the threats to their own business model. Oil and water just don't mix. We're learning to say "no," even to Google, if we need to. We have to remain small businesses. It's how we thrive.


TrueCar's business model, simply put, is to provide consumers and dealers with data that supports where they should price and buy cars in a market. When the Toyota Prius was bringing over MSRP; we priced over MSRP. Scott Painter purchased a high demand Range Rover through us that we received just a few nationally and it wasn't discounted. We priced the vehicle to our local Los Angeles market and made great margin because that is what the vehicle demanded. I believe in pricing discipline in the market place and there will always be vehicles that have more demand than others and should be priced accordingly. This is the foundation of TrueCar. In my "dealer days" I hosted many focus groups and always asked the question; What do you feel is a fair profit for a dealer when he sells a car? I have asked this question for more than a decade and the answer hasn't changed. Most consumers (and this is corroborated by studies done from several major polling companies) feel that the dealer should make around $2500 for the sale of a car. They don't understand how low the margins actually are and I believe that by educating about pricing and demand in the market you can increase margins with a disciplined pricing model. The key for TC is to enable a free market place for dealers that enables them to price against the market and not each other. This is a major product change at TrueCar as well as a positive culture change at the company. Since I joined last year over half the executive team at TC has been replaced; many of them by automotive executives like myself. This change is why you see us sponsoring events and scholarships like AutoCon and why we have added over 1500 dealers over the past few months. New Affinity programs, new products, new team and a different culture is why we will be supporting over 5000 dealers by next month. 



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