Online, vehicle exchanges like OVE or ATC are great because they allow easier access to vehicles across the country. The downside is shipping the vehicles. My biggest issue is not the price, but instead of the random nature of drop off and delivery. Finding cheap vehicle shipping is easy, guaranteed delivery is hard.
Owner/Operators make up the bulk of capacity for single unit moves, and O/Os operate to maximize short-term profit. This means they will try to run full at all times and wait for payment from a customer they may not see again. Consequently, many O/Os (and small fleets) will think nothing of waiting days to either pick up a car or pick up a check. These delays are essentially random, making it nearly impossible to give a guaranteed transit time and pick up day.
Using brokers creates a principal-agent moral hazard situation, as well. Most brokers take a transport job and post it on CentralDispatch.com, where a carrier finds it. The broker has done his part of finding a carrier, but the carrier’s company does not have the same responsibilities to the end customer (you) as does the broker. Service quality degrades, delays increase, and ultimately it’s a poor experience.
Ultimately, the industry needs a hub and spoke model, but I think, no one transport company understands demand enough to know how to roll out a model like this. Ideally, major cities would be connected by either rail or the 8-10 car trailers, and those cities would locally be served by 1-3 car hotshots that just ran all day around the city, picking up cars and bringing them to a central terminal, like DHL, FedEx, or UPS.
Anyone want to fund my new Auto Transport Company? Probably won’t take more than a 100 mill to roll out nationally.