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The AA launches into used car classifieds through Vcars partnership

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, 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.”

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  • ICEAGE - 09/07/2013 14:37

    Thank goodness for this!........ At last we may have a real competitor to the profitiers at AUTOTRADER who have had a monopoly for far far to long. Let's hope this is a success for both the AA and Vcars; the competition is desperatley needed and will bring better service and better prices for used car advertisers all over the UK.

  • Rob Taylor - 09/07/2013 18:43

    Similar to political parties "all tit for tat" - RAC go first with RAC Cars, now AA with AA Cars.. Sounds like AA have tried being innovative and failed, so copied someone elses homework..

  • Nobby - 10/07/2013 08:42

    What both these organisations are trying to do is to push their brand and products, no harm in that. But are the motoring public getting the best deal? I still believe they probably are if as a buyer you can get the peace of mind with an AA/RAC 'warranty' when purchasing from independent/specialist dealers. But buying from franchised dealers the proposition is actually more compelling, longer warranties, better checks, cars prepared to manufacturer approved guidelines, back-up and support. If main dealers want to look for an alternative to the Autotrader jungle then two sites we've seen, Trusted Dealers and Prestige Dealers fit the bill perfectly, no private ads, no independents, basically a level playing field for all franchised dealers. As I've said before on here manufacturers still need to get their approved schemes to the forefront of the market place, its no good just expecting all customers will visit their sites. Customers like to check what is available to them and to cross reference and compare. The big issue is that manufacturers think their used car locators are operating very effectively. The fact is they probably are compared to what they previously knew what was happening in their used car marketplace. Nowadays with all the available analytics, brands can now see a real tangible worth in how many people visit and enquire. My response to this is they could be doing so much better with a little 'out of the box' thinking. Whilst the AA and RAC will provide a safety net for the consumer, the brands need to let the customer know by expanding their online presence that there is something even better than the AA/RAC have to offer.

  • Shedloads - 10/07/2013 09:43

    With three times as many members as the RAC, the AA is bound to win this little spat. Also, I'd trust a product backed by Edmund King more than one being offered by the profiteering vulture capitalists who now run the RAC!

    • Rob Taylor - 10/07/2013 18:38

      @Shedloads - Sounds like you work for the one with the 3 times as many members #veryprotective. Many businesses have taken on Autotrader and failed, clearly there is a market for a competitor and whoever that is good luck to them..

    • shedloads - 10/07/2013 18:55

      @Rob Taylor - No Rob I've nowt to do with either of them, but I do know Edmund King and the wide boys who run RAC and I know who I'd trust to sell me a used motor. Also it's a numbers game isn't it? If you've got 15 million members to flog used cars and associated products to and your nearest competitor has only got 5 million, then really you've got a better chance of selling more used cars haven't you? I think the AA brand might just carry more credibility in this arena as well. The RAC is really just a small breakdown organisation isn't it?

    • Rob Taylor - 11/07/2013 10:26

      @shedloads - It is very much a numbers game, and run rate would suggest the more members the bigger opportunity, the bigger opportunity = the potentially better closing ratio. I dont have an affinity to either business, however reading through the lines it does suggest that RAC is more well known in the motor arena from a warranty perspective, and just noticed that RAC Warranty are under license to The Warranty Group - who suggest they are the worlds largest? Back to the initial debate - In my mind, it can only be good for the consumer if there is more competition.

    • Shedloads - 11/07/2013 19:57

      @Rob Taylor - I'm not convinced that more players = better for consumers. I think too many players = confusion and so more possibility of customer rip offs....did you see BBC last night? Unfortunate for RAC. But that's what you get when you prostitute your brand to a well known car sales pimp/ supermarket for a couple of million dirty dollars. I rest my case I guess. Back to Nobby's argument....better buy from a manufacturer backed franchised dealer every day of the week!

    • Robert Taylor - 12/07/2013 11:02

      @Shedloads - I do agree with parts of your argumentin terms of is it better for consumers, I did catch parts of the BBC programme and essentially the programme was referencing the hard sell attitude of sales people, in another respect i suppose if you are paid below minimum wage as a basic in a sales environment, it is understandable people are hungry to make money and use differing ways of sales closing methods- to put it lightly. In respect of the RAC, I didnt take much notice of the allegiance/ affinity so to speak, as in all truth the car supermarket sales people were clearly not being truthful when they suggested all cars are viewed/checked by the RAC, as I noticed the RAC commented that only a selection of cars are checked - why only a selection though is the question i guess?

  • Miles Better - 15/07/2013 14:39

    These companies aren't offering what we really need nor are they looking out for our interests...What we need is a REAL alternative for us the dealers to take our industry back. It's coming...It's 1 month away and it could just turn everything on its head. Spread the word and watch this space.

    • Rob Taylor - 15/07/2013 15:21

      @Miles Better - Isnt everyone in it for money? Trying to re-invent the wheel isnt going to work and unfortunately there is so much competetition in warranty, gap and other associated products, and for that matter also DMS systems, CRM systems - how can the motor industry revolutionize in just one month??

    • Nobby - 15/07/2013 16:03

      @Miles Better - How can we spread the news when we don't know what it is? A little more info would be helpful, are you providing the product or are you a dealer? I would be most surprised to find something that 'turns everything on its head', but hey, we're not too sceptical in the auto industry are we....

    • Miles Better - 15/07/2013 17:32

      @Nobby - I'm a car dealer and guilty of my fare share of sceptisism!! But having being asked to look at what is coming, my opinion is it would be good for all of us. I can't go into it too much because it isn't mine to go in to but I've been told a month and it'll be launched. Know a few other lads who've been asked to have a look at it too and they seem to like it, it looks like a real chance to change things for the better! I am sure they will put it on here when it goes live I'm just saying there is something on the way that is worth looking at...and if we all like it we could be on to something.

    • Miles Better - 15/07/2013 17:42

      @Rob Taylor - I don't think its about re-inventing the wheel, but I think there is a better cart coming to attach the wheel to. It's just my opinion but I think it's worth a look, I don't mind anyone making money but it's what we get in return for that money that I'm interested in.