What do dealers really think of used car giant Auto Trader? – Car Dealer Investigations Video

  • Special video documentary published today (watch it above)
  • We chat to dealers large and small about advertising giant
  • Auto Trader bosses talk about profits and how the firm grew into a tech titan

Time 8:08 am, July 29, 2022

Car Dealer’s latest Investigation video has been published today and looks at how Auto Trader got so big. 

The documentary features interviews with a host of car dealer bosses – including franchised and independent – as well as motor trade experts.

We ask bosses from Auto Trader if they’re embarrassed by the profits the firm makes, what they think was the catalyst to its huge growth and whether they believe the firm has peaked.

And we chart how it all began for the advertising giant and look at how it grew into the hugely successful business it is today.

The exclusive video has interviews with Auto Trader’s executive team including CEO Nathan Coe, COO Catherine Faiers and Chris Kelly, the firm’s chief technology officer.

Last year, Auto Trader made record pre-tax profits of £301m – a margin of around 70 per cent – which equates to some £25m a month.

£25m profit

Boss Coe says the motor trade shouldn’t compare these profits to what car dealers make and instead look at other marketplaces like RightMove or TrainLine.

Coe said: ‘I think that our margins are very, very high. 

‘But you’ve got to remember that we operate a very different business to a retailer – we have no plan to be a retailer – and actually, in the marketplace space, the sorts of business that we are, those margins are more normal. 

‘There are, believe it or not, businesses with much higher margins than what we have. 

‘So I think it’s not something that I feel embarrassed about, I think it is just the nature of the business that we run. 

‘We are always thinking about doing the right thing, making sure that any price changes that we make are reasonable and respectful of what’s going on for retailers and the value that we’ve delivered.’

Steve Fowler quote

Consumer motoring journalists and finance experts also give their opinion on Auto Trader in our video.

Steve Fowler, editor in chief of Auto Express, says: ‘Auto Trader is kind of a necessary evil for car dealers isn’t it? They just can’t avoid being on it. 

‘It’s the biggest used car classified platform in the UK. And if you want to sell cars, you got to talk to them, whether you like it or not.’

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Car dealers including Snows COO Neil McCue, Vines Group MD Sean Kelly, Swansway Motor Group’s Peter Smyth and Luscombe’s boss Robin Luscombe all give their frank opinions about the brand.

We also speak to Specialist Cars and IMDA chairman Umesh Samani, Car Quay’s Jamie Caple and Emerald House of Cars CEO PJ Quinn about the independent dealers’ thoughts on Auto Trader.

You can watch the video now on our YouTube channel or listen to it as a Podcast on your favourite platforms by searching for ‘Car Dealer Investigations’. 

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.

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