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New cars at Auto Trader

Auto Trader last week strengthened its offering in the new car market with the launch of the internet-based New Cars Comparator.

Lookers, Inchcape-owned Autobytel UK, Dixon Motors’ Jamjars, Virgin Cars and Norwich Union are among the first organisations to sign up to the concept, which will be backed by a £2.5m ad campaign over the next two months, part of a £7m spend this year.

New Cars Comparator enables consumers to search for the best deals nationwide – Auto Trader’s research has shown price variations of more than £2,000 on a £10,000 new car – by inputting the exact model and specification details. Within the next three to six months, consumers will also be able to compare best prices across different model ranges, for example, for family cars or 4x4s.

“We will build up the facility over the next six months and become the market leader for new cars,” says Jason Biffin, Auto Trader Digital head of e-commerce. “We are in talks with several other big dealer groups and some manufacturers who we expect to sign up within the next three months.”

The comparator will be promoted via the regional weekly Auto Trader magazines, which also now include a ‘Buy New’ section, to help the company treble the number of online new car searches (currently 500,000 a month) in the first year.

Auto Trader is also looking to raise the number of new cars on its website from 15,000 to 50,000. Retailers will be able to promote extras like finance deals, insurance and cashback offers so they will not be competing purely on lowest price against internet operators, while the search options will also include pre-registered cars.

Dealers pay 50p for each customer that clicks on their vehicle, a model that is already used on other websites.

“Consumers will go through the process of choosing the car and specification and then clicking on the model of their choice, so any traffic to dealers will be a targeted lead,” adds Biffin. He also intends to add an additional facility to the online used car search engine to bring up the best new car price if it is similar to the used prices.

Although the concept is not new – Yahoo-owned Kelkoo already offers national new car price comparisons – Auto Trader believes its long-standing relationships with retailers will prove crucial.

It has more than 8,000 franchised and independent retailers signed up to and expects this to continue rising.

Adding in the regional paper product figures, the company claims to be doing business with 60% of the UK’s franchised and independent retailers.

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