TMG has set up a new division, Trader Data Systems (TDS), to manage the service. It is in talks with a number of dealer groups and expects to start piloting later this year in preparation for a full-scale launch to the trade in 2006.
Targeted at manufacturers, dealers and consumers, Vehicle Status Check aims to take a sizeable chunk of the £60m vehicle provenance market by offering “best possible prices allayed to a better products”, according to Neil Hodson, TDS director and a former manager at Experian.
Dealers carry out 15 million checks a year on 4.2 million transactions.
The service will be available to them on their desktop, online or via the telephone, and will be integrated with TMG’s other dealer services, such as Dealer Edit.
TDS has, ironically, teamed up with rival HPI for the launch of the consumer offer – both companies hope to pick up market knowledge – before introducing its own product next April.
Less than 10% of customers check their vehicle prior to buying privately, where three million transactions take place each year, and TDS intends to educate them in a bid to grow the market. Vehicle Status Check researches whether the car has been stolen or salvaged, has had a number plate change, has outstanding finance, clocked mileage or has been involved in a major accident.
A suite of associated products, including a tool for insurers to check the make and model of cars and a car valuation service, will be introduced over the next few months as the company gears up for the full launch.
“We’ll be a credible third player and will challenge HPI and Experian’s position in the market,” says Hodson. “Dealers need another choice and we will drive the price and shake-up the market.” Auto Trader head of marketing Jonathan Williams says the service marks a new strategy for the business. “We want to reposition the brand as a trusted authority. Currently we are an intermediary but we want to be more involved in the process and TDS fits in with that,” he says.