Stellantis launches Spoticar used car service in UK

Stellantis has launched its Spoticar used car service in the UK as it pushes back against the growing popularity of online-based sellers such as Cazoo and Cinch.

The UK is the 10th European market launch for Spoticar after the brand started in France in May 2019.

Former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles brands such as Fiat will join the program next year, Nick Richards, Stellantis used vehicle operations director in the UK, said in an online launch of the brand this week.

Spoticar will offer “the widest choice of any used car brand” with 12,500 models from 500 retailers displayed on the website, Richards said.

The site will also include cars from non-Stellantis brands.

“We know from our experience in Europe we are going to see a significant increase in traffic and sales [from adding more brands],” Richards said.

UK dealers have traditionally derived much of their income from the higher margins offered by used car sales, but buyers are increasingly moving to online alternatives.

“The digital marketplace has changed significantly over the last few months,” Richards told journalists on the call. “We want to make sure we give customers the maximum amount of choice rather the pushing them to other used vehicle marketplaces.”

UK-based online used car specialist Cazoo was valued at more than $2 billion after raising funds in October last year and in March agreed to sell itself to a blank-check company for $7 billion ahead of listing on the New York Stock Exchange. The company was founded in 2018.

Cazoo’s big UK rival, Cinch, meanwhile secured 1 billion pounds ($1.4 billion) in new funding earlier this year after launching in October 2020. Cinch is backed by the Constellation Automotive Group, which operates auction house BCA and consumer used car buying platform, giving it access to a large supply of second-hand cars.

Cinch’s and Cazoo’s business models are similar to that of Germany’s Autohero direct-to-consumer brand, owned by used car trading platform Auto1, which said in January it was listing on the Frankfurt stock exchange to raise funds to grow the business. It has drawn comparisons with U.S. online car dealers such as Carvana, Vroom, Shift and Carmax.

Spoticar, however, is banking that its buyers still want to look around the car before buying, rather than having it delivered unseen.

“While the majority of buyers are increasingly comfortable completing their purchase online, nearly 65 percent still value the physical experience of viewing and test driving vehicles before signing on the dotted line,” Spoticar said in a press release, citing 2020 research by UK online used car platform Autotrader.

Some Spoticar-affiliated dealers in France offer home delivery but it’s not a big selling point.

Spoticar in the UK will not offer online purchasing on the website until 2022. Customers instead will reserve cars online.

Stellantis will also use the Spoticar platform to sell used cars it owns, for example, those that have come off finance agreements. However, Spoticar said it won’t use the platform to bypass dealers, a big fear of the switch to direct sales model. Instead, transactions will happen via the retailer.

Stellantis aims to have more than 1 million used car sales and transactions by the end of 2021 as part of the Push to Pass plan.

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