Driveitaway Holdings founder and Chief Executive John Possumato views this as the most exciting time to be a part of the automotive industry as it works toward a transition to electric vehicles.
Mobility platform DriveItAway, founded in 2017, offers a rent-to-own subscription model that allows a consumer to “test drive” an EV by making monthly payments that build toward a downpayment if the consumer chooses to buy the vehicle. If the consumer does not want to purchase the vehicle, they can return it and end the subscription at any time with no penalty.
The company was created to provide subprime consumers a pay-as-you-go retailing process to limit portfolio risks, but the model also fits to get consumers into EVs at a lower cost and encourages adoption, Possumato told Auto Finance News.
“Drive now, decide later’ fits perfectly for folks who hesitate to make a long-term financial commitment on a new EV/plug-in hybrid EV purchase right away,” Possumato said.
Possumato began his career in the auto industry when he purchased a relative’s Chrysler Plymouth store and transformed it into selling commercial fleet vehicles, he said.
Auto Finance News spoke with Possumato about his career, his approach to leadership and his thoughts on auto finance industry trends. What follows is an edited version of the conversation.
Auto Finance News: What are your company’s goals in about 10 words or less?
John Possumato: Enabling all the means to secure reliable, sustainable personal transportation.
AFN: What do you think is the most underrated lending trend?
JP: I don’t think the retail automotive market in subprime and deep subprime lending has caught up with the “de-risking” that current technology and new ownership models, such as subscriptions, now provide.
In general, the lending market is working under the old traditional paradigm — friction-filled, lack of transparency, high markups due to high repossession costs — when a brand new one has developed, enabled through technology and new sales processes, such as vehicle subscriptions (long-term rental, short-term leases, whatever you want to call it). DriveItAway and many others are working to change this, particularly as the market transitions from ICE to EV.
AFN: What is your favorite piece of leadership advice ever received?
JP: I have always liked this quote from Lao Tzu: “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when the work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, ‘We did it ourselves.’”
A leader’s primary purpose, in my view, is to inspire and motivate others, to release and grow others’ “superpowers.” Do that within an organization and magic happens.
AFN: Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
JP: The bill collectors keep me motivated. … Seriously, going back a long way, one professor at The Wharton School, Ed Shils, was the first in the nation to “legitimize” entrepreneurship as a discipline in a major university business school, way before entrepreneurism was regarded as a serious career course. He did that before I got there, but listening to him and taking the courses he arranged set me on my path as he brought in real-world successful entrepreneurs to review the ups and downs of what now has become mainstream, founding start-up businesses. Back then this was very unusual at a university.
Currently, the automotive ecosystem itself has a major influence on my career, as it is in the early stages of a historic transition, ushering in digital platforms and EVs. I’m privileged to be part of it all.
AFN: What’s something your employees would be surprised to learn about you?
JP: I’m not sure much would surprise them, but maybe the fact that I’m naturally very introverted, as I do speak and moderate at a lot of industry events, podcasts and more. While I’m passionate about what we do and the mountain we are climbing, and naturally want to talk about it and the developments in the industry, I’m just as happy reading a book on the side of a deserted mountain in a cave.
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