At the 2018 SXSW Interactive Festival, we’re showcasing how we’re using human-centered design, advanced technology, deep industry expertise, and strategic partnerships to transform the car-buying experience.

The Challenge

Purchasing a car is a significant decision that can be time-consuming and stressful for many people. According to a survey by Capital One, 50% of people find buying a car more tedious than making important life decisions like deciding on a college or naming a baby. Additionally, 62% of car buyers are uncertain they got a good deal, and 78% feel they may not get the car they want during the shopping process.

We wanted to understand why buying a car can be so anxiety-inducing. We found that some customers were disappointed when they realized the payments were more than they had expected, as the total cost of ownership exceeded the car’s sticker price. They often did not know this at the beginning of the shopping process when they had set their hearts on a particular car. This left them with difficult choices to make, either starting the process over or settling for a less expensive option.

The Solution

To address these pain points, Capital One launched the first version of Auto Navigator in 2015. It’s a cloud-based web application built on a microservices architecture, powered by machine learning, that makes car shopping more manageable for customers. It allows them to find, finance, and purchase a car with ease, convenience, and confidence.

In 2016, we released an updated version that increased the number of cars available to browse from over 12,000 participating dealerships across the country, to more than three million. Using real-time data, we can provide customers with an estimate of their payments for any combination of cash down and terms they choose. Moreover, customers can pre-qualify for financing without any impact on their credit score before ever visiting a dealership.

Since its launch, we’ve continued to improve Auto Navigator by incorporating human-centered design, which involves listening to customers, observing their behaviors, and rapidly prototyping new features.

The Future

Our goal is to push the boundaries of the car-buying market to benefit customers. At SXSW, we’re previewing the latest evolution of Auto Navigator, which includes an augmented reality feature. Customers can use their mobile phones to scan cars and view personalized information such as pre-qualified financing, estimated monthly payments, and nearby dealerships. This feature will be available on both Apple and Android devices, leveraging ARKit and ARCore, respectively, as well as Capital One’s proprietary models to identify and price cars.