The AA has formed a marketing partnership with Vcars to use the AA brand to sell used cars online.
The announcement follows on from RAC entering the used car classifieds market with its acquisition of Netcars.
The AA will be pitching its used car classifieds website as the one which will “clean up car buying”. The AA also says it offers access to its 15 million members, including visibility to visitors to its own website and the AA Route Planner. AA president Edmund King wants the AA Cars service to de-risk the car buying process.
The deal between The AA and Vcars has been in the works for over six months.
King confirmed to AM that the deal is a brand partnership and The AA has not acquired any element of the Vcars business.
AA Cars will be competing in a crowded market, led by Auto Trader, with many players vying for dealer used car marketing spend.
The existing Vcars site has been transformed into AA Cars and customers will be offered a free AA Cars History Check for each vehicle. The history check is a 26-point check, not a full mechanical check.
At launch AA Cars currently presents 115,189 used cars for sale from over 2,000 dealers throughout the UK on the website, vcars.co.uk. It is offering all makes and models and does not have a price profile barrier.
King told AM: “It’s a marketing tie-up and we will endeavour to market the proposition of AA Cars to our members.
“Buying advice for cars is something we get asked about a lot so we wanted to offer something that amalgamates our expertise to help buyers with their used car purchase.”
King admits it is early days for the partnership, but he does believe AA Cars could become a market leader.
King said: “We want to see how it goes, it’s a pretty competitive market out there, but we do feel we have the various attributes that could help us become a market leader.
“It is still early days and I’m sure there will be lessons for us to learn along the way.”
AM asked King whether offering a 26-point history check and the idea of buying in confidence was enough to differentiate AA Cars from the competition.
King said: “We are giving customers something upfront with that history check.
“The offering is built around making the buying process more transparent and giving customers all the information they need to make a decision.”
Before launching AA Cars the AA studied the Office of Fair Trading Report into the pitfalls of buying a used car and has sought to address the issues raised around more transparency, information and checks on vehicles.
King said: “We know from past car history checks that a third of all cars checked had a significant hidden history.
"In fact, 1 in 10 had outstanding finance – and some debts can result in a car being seized from the purchaser; 1 in 8 were recorded as insurance write-offs; 1 in 16 had significant mileage discrepancies – for example, the vehicle had been ‘clocked’ to show a lower mileage; while nearly 91,400 had actually been reported stolen.
“This shows the importance of the AA Cars History Check up front and it should help de-stress the buying process for both buyer and seller so that drivers don’t make the biggest mistake of their lives.
“It’s vital that car buyers really do know what they are getting into.”