Carwow buys car magazines Auto Express and Evo for undisclosed sum

  • Carwow announces purchase of Autovia which publishes popular magazines and websites
  • Business will be integrated into the newly-formed Carwow Group immediately
  • Watch our exclusive video interview with Carwow CEO John Veichmanis above 

Time 9:30 am, February 14, 2024

Carwow has snapped up the publisher of two popular motoring magazines in a huge deal that will see the disruptor enter the printed media market.

Carwow told staff this morning that it had acquired Autovia, publishers of magazines Auto Express and Evo, and websites Carbuyer and DrivingElectric, for an undisclosed sum.

Autovia was spun out of Dennis Publishing by private equity group Exponent after it completed a sale of the wider business to Future plc in October 2021. The automotive arm has been for sale ever since.

Speaking exclusively to Car Dealer in a video interview you can watch above, Carwow’s chief executive officer John Veichmanis said his firm would invest more in the magazines and create new products to monetise the different brands’ audiences.

He sidestepped a question about whether the acquisition could lead to redundancies, but did promise to invest in the ‘much loved’ magazines. 

He said: ‘Our thesis is that we can invest more into these brands, not less. Ultimately, we don’t want to buy a business that we are going to shrink. That’s not our MO at all. 

‘We are a high-growth scale up and we really respect the brands. We respect the work of the team. And we want to use that to build a new Auto Express, a new Evo, that can do more for the people that read [them].’

Auto Express is a weekly car magazine, launched in September 1988, which sells around 31,000 copies a week. Evo is a monthly title for passionate motoring enthusiasts which sells around 20,000 copies. It was launched in November 1998. 

However, it’s clear the online reach of the brands included in the sale was the main attraction for Carwow. Veichmanis said Autovia’s portfolio will boost Carwow’s 65m annual hits by a further 100m.

Subscribe to the Car Dealer weekly briefing

Carwow has built a huge following online with Mat Watson fronting videos for its popular YouTube channel. It is now the largest in the world with nearly 9m subscribers and 1bn annual views.

Veichmanis added: ‘We are a marketplace but what’s different about our business is that we’re powered by content and we think in this particular category, that’s really important because consumers are making difficult choices. 

‘We want to help them make a good, confident and informed choice and Autovia helps us do even more of that with a much larger audience, particularly given their online reach.’

Asked if he will continue to publish Auto Express weekly, Carwow’s CEO said the print title was a ‘core part of building the brand’ and that he wants to ‘continue to appeal to the loyal subscriber base’.

‘We ourselves are huge car enthusiasts – that’s what we do every single day and on a personal level I feel really excited about being the custodian of these brands,’ he added.

‘They are phenomenal brands and we want to continue to invest in them. Our monetisation model allows us to diversify the revenue streams for these brands so that we can continue to invest more.’

Veichmanis explained the Autovia team will now be ‘integrated’ into the larger Carwow group as it builds new products to appeal to the different audiences the new brands bring.

‘Our intention is not to put Carwow ads all over Auto Express or all over Evo – we are going to build products that suit the needs of those users,’ he added.

Asked if this acquisition would help tip Carwow – a business that has never made a profit – into the black at last, Veichmanis said accounts for 2023 would paint a rosier picture than the year before.

Carwow booked a £29.4m loss in 2022 on revenues of £40m after investing heavily in its Motorway-rival, Sell My Car. 

Veichmanis said: ‘We are absolutely focused on becoming profitable and yeah, 2022 was a challenging year in terms of profits given the investments we made particularly in Sell My Car, but we’ve really reaped the rewards of that in 2023, so when we publish our accounts in September you’ll see a completely different picture both in terms of revenue growth and profit.’

Carwow is currently raising fresh funds in a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube. So far it has secured £2.7m from 2,659 investors. This is the second time it has turned to the public to raise money, with the previous Crowdcube campaign raising £4.9m in 2019.

Speaking about the deal, Julian Lloyd-Evans, executive director at Autovia, added: ‘We are very pleased to become part of the Carwow Group.

‘In Carwow, we are excited to be part of an industry-leading marketplace business that delivers a great customer experience and significant sales for its OEM and dealer partners.’

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

More stories...

MFL Advert
Server 108