California has the seventh largest economy in the world. And what drives this economy is the willingness of consumers to take risks and buy products. To guard against risk, consumers often rely on commercial data to tell them the history of a product. So, for example, when someone is buying a house, he or she can see the history of the house: its property tax values, its renovations and what it sold for in the past. Shouldn’t the same process apply when buying a car? It should but it doesn’t.
A new piece of legislation, AB 1215, aims to protect consumers in the market for a used car by giving them information on the car’s history. The bill asks the right question: how can we protect consumers? Unfortunately, it provides the wrong answer: it relies on the National Motor Vehicle Titling Information System. Essentially, the NMVTIS is a program developed by the Justice Department to help keep track of car titles. But if you are looking for information on how many wrecks a car has had or how much work has been done to it over the years, the NMVTIS isn’t much use.