The AA has completed the purchase of used car portal VCARS. The purchase comes four years since the AA and VCARS kicked off a commercial partnership under the banner of AA Cars. The original VCARS was launched in 1999.
According to the AA annual report AA Cars now has 2,300 dealers on its books with a “significant proportion” signed up for the AA Dealer Promise, its code of conduct which offers arbitration by the AA in disputes. The website has almost 131,000 used cars listed.
AA Cars will be chaired by Martin Clarke, AA chief finance officer with over 30 years of private equity experience.
Mike Lloyd has also joined the board. Lloyd is responsible for the AA’s consumer roadside, business services and financial services businesses as well as the marketing, digital and public affairs functions for the AA. He is an executive director of Automobile Association Insurance Services.
Simon Benson director of motoring services at The AA, said: “After more than four rewarding years of working closely with VCARS, we’re delighted to be bringing AA Cars fully into the fold.
“This not only gives our dealers the opportunity to benefit from the AA’s unparalleled online visibility but also a chance to build on the unique initiatives that only dealers using our site currently benefit from – such as free breakdown cover for the first 12 months, pre-sale vehicle inspections and a history check on every listed car.
“More of the customer’s car buying journey takes place online – we think it’s a very exciting time to be offering a complete toolkit for dealers looking to take advantage of this shift in purchasing habits.”
Paul Davis, former CEO of VCARS who will continue to work with AA Cars, said: “We have had a fruitful partnership with the AA over the last few years. Our association with the AA has been a significant endorsement of the work that we’ve put into the development of the business.
“But now is the right time for the business to be fully integrated into the AA and I am happy to help them on this journey. The future looks bright for our growing dealer network and customers.”