News International, publisher of The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun and Sun on Sunday, is set to go head-to-head with Auto Trader in the UK with the launch of a new online car classified website.
It aims to create a market-leading “premier car digital destination” and is targeting car dealers as the key to the success of the new enterprise.
The website will use a mix of motoring editorial and classified advertisements to build traffic and generate revenues for News International as income from traditional print continues to fall.
News International is recruiting a head of product and content with an advertisement specifying experience of “championing the consumer”.
The lucrative online classified market is now set to become more competitive with parties focusing on the big profits made by market leader Auto Trader. Last week Cox Enterprises, owner of Manheim Auctions, bought Motors.co.uk from Daily Mail General Trust (DMGT), the firm that publishes the Daily Mail and Mail On Sunday. The site claims to be the UK’s second largest online used vehicle classified with 161,000 used cars registered.
Auto Trader is run by Trader Media Group in which Guardian Media Group has a 50.1 per cent stake and ApaxPartners the remainder. It generated operating profits of £104.8m in 2010. It advertises about 370,000 cars at any one time.
Dealers will have greater choice as to where they advertise their stock and at what cost. Some dealers have complained Auto Trader’s charges are too high.