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Cox Automotive rules out following rivals BCA and Cinch in launching direct-to-consumer online used car website

Time 11 months ago

Cox Automotive has ruled out launching an online used car business for consumers, saying it wants to focus on supporting dealers rather than competing with them.

Speaking exclusively to Car Dealer, the president of Cox Automotive International, Martin Forbes, said that while other businesses are launching into the rapidly growing online-only space, Cox Automotive has no plans to follow rivals and wants to support its dealer customers and not go up against them.

‘This is an area that is very tempting to move into,’ he said in the interview at top of this story, ‘but it’s an area we don’t want to grow in.’

Forbes was speaking on the same day that rival BCA launched its direct-to-consumer used car website Cinch.

In a statement sent to Car Dealer, BCA said: ‘The new digital platform has been designed in response to feedback and service needs from both Cinch’s consumers and BCA’s dealer customers.

‘The Cinch platform helps its dealer partners increase their offering to consumers without additional investments in infrastructure, stockholding and marketing.’

The newcomer joins Cazoo and soon-to-be-launched Carzam in offering an end-to-end online platform for consumers to buy used cars. 

Cox Automotive, former owners of consumer used car marketplace, doesn’t want to follow rival BCA’s lead into consumer online sales.

‘I think it’s important to make our position extremely clear – that is, we have no intention or plans to move into the retail space,’ Forbes said. 

‘I fundamentally believe we should never be in a position of conflict with our customers. 

This is an area that is very tempting to move into, but that is an area we don’t want to grow.

‘We want to work with our customers; we are a B2B business and we will continue to grow our B2B products and services to allow and facilitate our customers to navigate the industry and market in these challenging times, help them navigate what is becoming a wholesale digitalised marketplace, but also, more importantly, helping them to make the shift towards online retail environment.’

Forbes recognised that that there is an opportunity for online-only used car sales and the trend has catalysed through coronavirus, but the new trend will take time to develop.

‘To grow in this space, clearly there’s opportunity – we’ve seen Cazoo and Carzam and a shift to selling through retail channels online,’ he said. 

‘Let’s remember here as an industry we’ve been slower to the party than other industries in that shift towards an online retail space.

‘The challenges we’ve experienced this year has accelerated these trends by a good number of years, and whether it be the franchised dealer network or other car supermarkets, everyone has really upped their game in what it takes to sell cars in an online retail space and the tools they need to do that. 

‘This is an area that is very tempting to move into, but that is an area we don’t want to grow.’

Forbes oversaw Cox’s sale of to eBay Motors Group and points to that as an indication of its B2B focus. 

‘When we sold I wanted to make that statement to the market that we weren’t interested in the B2C space – we’re a B2B business that will invest and continue to grow in this area and facilitate our customers through that journey of a digital or a physical retail environment.’

Forbes added: ‘We will continue to see this shift towards online, but I don’t think it’s going to move as quickly as people are talking about.

‘We’re seeing a very similar trend in the US, Canada, Australia and all the other markets we’re in. Some might argue the US is slightly ahead of the curve in this one, but it will take time to come and people feeling comfortable to do it.’   

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