Motor Industry News
Vehicle data company mycarcheck.com looks set to benefit from the demise of Trader Data Systems (TDS) which this week declared plans to cease business by the end of April. TDS has announced its intention to put the brakes on services from April 28th 2008, leaving the expected gap in the market to be filled by the likes of mycarcheck.com and its associated SMS service mytextcheck.com.
TDS, the company, which forms part of the highly lucrative Trader Media Group Company (TMG) owners of the Auto Trader magazine, decided to pull out of the vehicle data market due to increasing competition.
As a result of ferocious rivalry, the cost to consumers of checking a car's history has plummeted in the past 12 months. Just a year ago, car checks cost as much as around £40 each with some companies but due to a recent round of price cuts, costs were slashed to less than £5, with mycarcheck.com leading the way with a check for as low as £3.95.
About 10m cars change hands in the UK each year, of which only a quarter are bought new. That means over 7.5m people a year buy used cars... and eight out of ten rely on the 'honesty' of the seller to tell them about the vehicle's past. "It is a highly competitive industry. Consumers are rightly demanding more and more for their money and the only way to compete is to keep improving the quality and quantity of information," said Roger Powell of mycarcheck.com.
The company is the only one that automatically tells its clients if the car they are thinking of buying has been stolen and recovered, regardless of whether it was damaged while out of its owner's care. The other firms will only tell customers if the car was seriously damaged or written-off by insurers when stolen.
"It's important to know if the car was stolen and recovered because only the thief knows what that car was used for," said Mr Powell. "It could have been cloned, used in robberies or an abduction, in a drive-by shooting or it could have been used to ship drugs into the country and the first the buyer knows of it is when he gets dragged off for a full-body search by Customs because the sniffer dogs have shown an interest".
He said there was a strong chance that the thief could still have a key to the recovered car, making it vulnerable to being stolen a second or third time, particularly if it was a high-performance car.
About 350,000 vehicles are stolen in the UK each year, of which only about half, 175,000, are recovered. The demise of Trader Data Services means that mycarcheck.com, Experian and HPI are the main suppliers left in a market which continues to grow as more drivers became aware of the importance of knowing as much as possible about their vehicles.
"All the companies are constantly having to come up with new ideas and packages to attract customers," said Mr Powell, who recently entered into agreements with Nationwide Autocentres and Thompsons Solicitors to provide mycarcheck clients with cut-price MoTs, free vehicle inspections and legal cover if they buy a Premium Package from mycarcheck.com or mytextcheck.com.. "Increasingly people want more than just a basic data check and to stay competitive we are willing to provide that - not every company does."