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This is a Great Time to Be a Car Consumer

Scott Painter has shaped the past of the auto industry, now he’s shaping the future. 

“I've had open heart surgery. I've had my house burned down. I've had my boat sink. I've had Softbank come in and shut down a company. I don’t believe in bad or good luck, but I do believe in being prepared.”

Scott Painter-1Scott Painter’s resilience has served him well.  Elected Class President at West Point, he founded Fair, an automotive financial technology company in 2026 after having founded and served as the CEO of TrueCar as well as of CarsDirect.com. He sees himself as a disruptor in the auto industry, but not the same kind as his long-time friend and consultee, the CEO of Tesla.

“There are elements of Elon that are very pure. I take the point of view of what’s supposed to be and that drives me what to build. Elon believes he was sent here to do big things and he’s willing to sacrifice anything to achieve them.”

Watch Scott Painter at METAL

By example, Painter tells this story: “Elon asked me in 2019 as he was beginning to scale the Model 3 ‘How could Tesla sell half the cars in the United States?’ I asked him, ‘How can you possibly make half the cars in the United States?’ He said, “I know exactly how many cars per square inch my robots can build. Sure enough, right now Elon is pouring more factory floor than all other automotive companies combined. The only KPI that Elon gives a shit about is how much square footage of floor space he’s creating. Because that's how he can create more cars.” Scott_Painter_MMD_IMG1

Though he believes Musk is setting back the EV industry by cutting prices in his quest for dominance, and though he calls Elon’s discounting of Teslas “one of the dumbest fucking things I've ever seen, especially from one of the smartest men in the world, destabilizing the residual value of used electric cars,” he also believes that this is a golden age for consumers - particularly for EVs. 

“If you look back over the last 100 years, you've got more diversity of cars right now than you've ever had. You've got six completely new car companies in the United States alone - Tesla, Rivian, Lucid, Polestar, Fisker, Vinfast and BYD is coming. There are 50 different make model trims of electric cars right now available. And there's another 50 that are coming in the next 2 years. I call that a product onslaught. It's a great time to be a consumer. It takes time to get these manufacturing facilities up and running, but you're gonna have so much choice. And these cars are all really well made. This is absolutely groundbreaking.”

Is he a fan of Tesla? Tesla almost buried me but I'm a fan of the product. I think Tesla is one of the most important companies in the world and it's a 5 trillion dollar company inside of 5 years.  I don't think that anybody's gonna be able to compete.”

Scott_Painter_MMD_IMG3Painter now runs Autonomy, an EV subscription business with a fleet of Teslas. He dismisses the big Hertz announcement that it’s selling all its Teslas as nothing more than standard, cyclical de-fleeting.  “Nothing happened in the last year to make electric cars worth less. They're durable. They're reliable. They operate. They're just fine. It's not like we discovered something wrong with a battery or the mechanical part of the car.”

Peering into the future, Painter’s Autonomy runs an open-ended lease that is 100% digital. “I've been asked for 30 years, ‘When are we gonna buy carsScott_Painter_MMD_IMG2 on our phones?’ But here’s the thing: we're not gonna buy cars. The 3 big vectors going on in the car business right now are electrification, digitalization and the end of ownership. This idea of telling the people who can least afford to go into debt to buy depreciating assets, to buy one to get to work is absurd. Three out of four Americans still need a car. We’re heading into a car-share world. We're just not gonna buy cars anymore.”

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