Several hundred car dealers in Norway have come together to build a digital platform that could shake up the country’s auto marketplace sector and represent significant regional competition for Schibsted.

With an injection of NOK25 million ($2.4 million U.S.) in equity from 36 different companies, and 330 dealers, Drive Mobility AS is currently hiring staff, and has just appointed a day-to-day leader, Eirik Foss Stene.

It claims to be “the only digital tool a car dealer needs.” Previously called Newco Norge AS, it decided at its first annual meeting on May 2 to change its name to Drive Mobility AS. Behind it stand Norway’s car dealer association and most of the country’s leading car companies.

The initiative is very much inspired by Wayke, a Sweden-based effort to compete with Schibsted-owned Blocket, without repeating its mistakes. Since its foundation in 2017, Wayke has received strong support from co-owner, the Swedish Association for Motor Retail Trades and Repairs (MRF). Drive has struck a software as a service (SaaS) deal with Wayke, which boosts the startup’s efforts to get up and running.

This is due to happen in fall, initially only as a software company for dealers with a log-in function.

Car dealers in Norway are well prepared for this step, having been briefed by their Swedish counterparts running the dealer organization MRF.

Schibsted forced to Wayke up?

Meanwhile, with a bigger base for its software, Wayke now looks set to be able to scale up its operation. This means that Schibsted is likely to meet a tougher environment in both Norway and Sweden in the coming years.

So far, Wayke’s strength has been to give dealers digital software for all their needs, which includes tools to produce, follow up and publish ads and other marketing tools.

Schibsted and Finn.no have owned Sentinel Software — which is behind CarWeb — since 2017. CarWeb, the leading software company for car dealers, will be the first Schibsted business to be challenged by the new digital tool.

When Wayke started, some dealers in Sweden stopped advertising at Blocket, but they soon returned due to the latter’s dominant position.

Drive.no will be a platform only for car dealers, with all cars to be checked by Bus. Individuals who want to sell their car can do so directly to dealers on the Wayke page. Nettbil has not yet launched in Sweden, but has been a huge success in Norway.

Drive time: 700 dealers targeted 

Drive is aiming to sign up close to 700 dealers. It has not openly declared that it is gunning for Schibsted, but it certainly increases the negotiating power of Norway-based car dealers when Schibsted and Finn try to increase prices.

Drive says it represents a tool for dealers to control their marketing from a single platform. It will make it possible to publish ads on dealers’ own web pages, brands’ homepages, Drive.no, social media and Finn.no. It will be a competitor to CarWeb.

According to its statute, the Norway-based startup will be “selling digital products and services as well as business that is naturally related to this. Members of the Norwegian Automobile Industry Association must always have priority with the company’s products and services.”

Drive’s activity/industry, according to its registration, will be the “operation of web portals.” The company’s chair is Stig Morten Nilsen, CEO of the dealers organization in Norway.

Other board members include Per Helge Gumpen, owner and business leader at one of the big dealer groups in Norway, which represents Volkswagen and Skoda among others; Bjarnar Haslar, manager of Bilia in Norway; and Svein-Arild Johnsgaard, co-owner of the Sulland Group; alongside a couple more big names from the Norwegian dealer world.

Drive Mobility is not an immediate “Finn.no killer,” but it will probably hurt Schibsted in the long run. In the short run, it seems that it already has a version of Nettbil in the works. Acquiring cars from private owners and selling them via auction has been a highly profitable new business for Finn.no.

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