Carvana Co. was founded in 2012 by Ernest Garcia and two partners. Today Carvana is a leading used-car dealer nationwide, the fastest growing in the US and well-known for its chain of used car vending machines. The vending machines allow pre-approved buyers to pick up their purchases at one of 32 locations nationwide. Other buyers can have their vehicles delivered directly to their door or to a location of their choice. Ernest Garcia III remains as CEO as of 2022. He and his father, Ernest Garcia II, are among the company’s largest shareholders.
The company operates an e-commerce platform that provides an end-to-end car buying experience without the hassles of dealers or dealerships. The platform can offer no-haggle pricing by leveraging its database of used vehicles and readily available data for local car markets. Buyers can search for and find vehicles, view them using the website's propriety technology, obtain financing and even register their new car or get insurance.
The company’s rise to fame was meteoric. The first vending machine was launched in 2013, leading to the brand's rapid expansion. The 1st fully-automated vending machine was opened in 2015 and then later, in 2017, the company held its initial public offering. The company IPOd on the New York Stock Exchange and saw its share price quickly double, triple, and quadruple as used-car trends and growing brand recognition boosted sales.
The post-IPO years included major acquisitions, including vehicle-data company Carlypso and imaging firm Car360, which greatly enhanced the website and car-buying experience. In 2020, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company initiated touchless delivery that allowed consumers to receive their vehicles with minimal interaction. Consumers can also sell their used cars to the company in exchange for cash or trade value. The trade-in business is a source of products for the company and is a key to its success.
All Carvana used cars are inspected a reconditioned by a team of industry professionals. They have no reported fire, frame or flood damage and are certified by CARFAX and AutoCheck data. Once purchased, consumers have 7 days to test drive and return the vehicle with no charge. The total number of retail units sold in F2021 topped 425,000 and resulted in $12.84 billion in revenue, or a growth of 129%. Cars that don’t make the cut are sold off through the wholesale unit, which is a significant portion of the business. The company has a presence in 47 contiguous US states and is planning to deepen and expand its coverage.
Legal issues began to mount in 2021 when the first of several states filed suit against the company. Among the complaints were a failure to properly register vehicles and deliver paperwork to consumers among other violations of state and local car-buying regulations. The suits have resulted in a number of states banning the company from operating, some indefinitely.