Friday 26th June 2015
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What is a car supermarket?

Well, it is a retailer/dealer who has an online or actual location where they sell cars.  They are usually non franchised, independently owned and sell both old and new cars from various manufacturers.  Their range is often large and they could have hundreds of cars on their forecourt.  It’s a great way to test drive and compare and contrast a variety of cars, giving the consumer more choice.  Some people say their prices are a lot more competitive and that you will feel the ‘hard sell’ far less in a car supermarket.  These retailers frequently offer affordable finance deals and the cars come serviced, with an MOT and full documentation. Here’s a quick run down on some of the big players in the car supermarket sector:

Carwow: They make choosing and buying your perfect car easy and enjoyable. By comparing the best offers from their top local and national dealers, you get the car you want, from the dealer you like best, at a price that’s right for you. they are probably the best known car supermarket and they have been hugely successful.  For instance, they have been named the Ultimate Digital Car Supermarket by Auto Trader and they were the first major car supermarket to gain Specialist Automotive Finance (SAF) approval.  Honest John awarded Motorpoint Highly Approved Trader (HAT) status and  they were also named Car Supermarket of the Year by Motor Trader magazine in 2013.

Their business model is based on buying in bulk which gives them more buying power and they say this allows them to pass on the savings to their customers.  They claim that they have sold almost half a million vehicles which has generated over £2bn worth of savings for customers compared to the equivalent models from traditional dealers.
Motorpoint stock European specification cars and give the balance of the manufacturer’s warranty.  They always offer test drives, have specially trained staff and take vehicles in part exchange.  Huge savings are possible, they are known to have sold a 61 plate Mercedes Benz S class S35O0L CDi at just under £60 grand with fitted extras worth just over £13,000 and a saving of £17,500. has huge numbers of savings with many in the region of £4 to £7k.  Many French cars are considerably reduced. their selling points are wide choice and low prices.  They say “there are savings of up to £3,000 for a car when compared to a franchised dealer”.   Interestingly, they also say “ find your next car haggle and hassle free”.  A clear hint that you needn’t bother to haggle which seems a bit odd when you put savings forward as one of your main selling points.  Also, Cargiant don’t accept cheques or credit cards, so do be carefully about your payment protection rights and look at buying via debit card through Paypal. Check out the Consumer Act 1974, Section 75.

Some companies like don’t sell directly but act as facilitators which may imply they have some invested interest in guiding you towards a particular supplying retailer. is more of a discount centre which works with a large network of franchised dealers. recently went bust but that doesn’t mean the car supermarket industry is failing.   Their administrator Grant Thornton said Carcraft had suffered from “poor market reputation, lack of investment, a high cost base, expensive loan note financing and an insolvent balance sheet”.  Apparently, their losses amounted to £8 million per year.

Critics claim that car supermarkets don’t allow you to haggle as much as at a dealership and not all cars are strictly warrantable, some claim the cars aren’t even in good condition.  Easy car finance is a problem according to some opponents and people with CCJs may not get a deal at all.  But like any industry there are always good and bad operators. Car supermarkets claim that they are trying to create a more open market and are trying to tussle control aware from the manufacturers and their dealers. Just like a franchised dealership you should be offered road tests, part exchanges, manufacturer warranties and finance deals.  Before you part with any money check on what is included in the price and get it in writing. In fact, it might be best to visit a few dealerships first and then go to the car supermarkets to see how prices and offers compare.  As we always say at the savvy motorist shops around!