RAC Cars’ pledge to shake up the classified motor marketing sector by providing free advertising to dealers looks set to be cut short.
The brand has announced a new partnership with Motors.co.uk. This will see the launch of a new website in late May and it becoming part of the Motors.co.uk network, creating a combined audience opportunity of 5.4 million visitors per month and stock levels above 400,000 cars.
However at the end of 2016, the partnership will cancel the RAC Cars promise of free dealer advertising – a pledge it made in March 2015 when it argued that dealers were “being held to ransom and paying top dollar to advertise” in the broader market.
A spokeswoman for Motors.co.uk said any dealers which currently advertise on RAC Cars but not on Motors.co.uk would continue to be listed on RAC Cars from May until the end of 2016, when their advertising agreement will terminate.
To continue from January 1 2017, and to be included on the wider Motors.co.uk network in the interim, they would need to take an advertising package with Motors.co.uk.
All dealers already advertising with Motors.co.uk will appear on the new RAC Cars website for no charge in 2016, regardless of their advertising package.
The spokeswoman clarified that Motors.co.uk will not be moving to a free advertising model.
The Motors.co.uk network already includes major automotive websites such as Parkers, Sunday Times Driving, Motoring.co.uk and Carsite.
Through the partnership, dealers will be able to access both brands’ consumers via a single Motors.co.uk stock feed.
Customers will also easily be able to take advantage of the RAC’s range of products designed to inspire buying confidence including history checks, vehicle inspections, loans, breakdown cover, insurance and the RAC BuySure scheme.
For RAC Approved Dealers that provide BuySure, there will be an enhanced package on RAC Cars giving them additional advertising prominence in recognition of the fact that all their vehicles are prepared to a high standard.
"Significantly enhanced competition"
Robert Diamond, managing director of the RAC’s Motoring Services business, said: “In response to frustrations from dealers and concerns expressed by buyers, RAC Cars has always had the ambition of shaking-up the used car market.
“We believe that we have certainly done this, significantly enhancing competition in the sector to get a better deal for vehicle retailers while, at the same time, giving buyers more choice, together with the buying confidence the RAC name brings.
“Our partnership with Motors.co.uk is the logical next step to deliver maximum benefit for dealers via our significant combined reach and the ability to engage with our eight million members. There is also a very real benefit to both dealers and consumers as every decision to buy is supported by the opportunity to take advantage of the RAC’s industry-leading products.
“It is clear that in Motors.co.uk we have chosen the right partner with one goal in mind – to deliver more leads to dealers. And, in creating great, cost-effective solutions for dealers we are also providing great car-buying solutions for customers to buy the right car for them.”
Phill Jones, managing director of Motors.co.uk, said: “In RAC Cars, we have a partner that shares our passion for becoming a trusted matchmaker for automotive buyers and sellers.
“This is great news for both car dealers and prospective buyers. It will provide dealers with access to a larger audience of in-market car buyers through a single relationship, while consumers will benefit from a greater choice of vehicles and the reassurance of RAC’s compelling consumer products. It also underlines Cox Automotive’s ongoing investment in Motors.co.uk to be the trusted advertising partner to the automotive industry.”