'Google for used cars' predicts the death of the old classified ad model

Carsnip raises $1m to build out its intelligent car search engine ahead of its launch in May

The traditional sales model for used cars costs drivers and dealers 1,200 per car.

The traditional sales model for used cars costs drivers and dealers 1,200 per car.

Virtual showrooms, augmented reality demos, and internet-enabled connected cars have already catapulted the automobile industry online. As for pre-loved cars, the market may be wider than potential buyers expect. A new contender in the space, Carsnip, distinguishes itself as a search platform, challenging existing ‘classified ad-style’ online car sites by cutting out the middlemen.

Currently seven million second-hand cars are traded annually in the UK. According to Carsnip, the traditional sales model costs drivers and dealers on average £1,200 per car, owing to middlemen who take as many as four billion car buyer clicks away from dealers’ websites every year. As a car search engine, Carsnip aims to allow buyers to compare vehicles according to the individual ways they use their cars, with greater transparency: they will be able to see how much each car will cost them over its lifetime, rather than just upfront costs.

“Many industries have already gone through their intelligent search revolution, combining big data and machine learning to optimise user experience. The car industry is next," Carsnip's chief executive, Alastair Campbell. 

The initial funding rounds enabled Carsnip to index over 500,000 UK cars and build the first version of its natural language search. 

The next round of investment, expected to total a further $5 million, will enable Carsnip to build out tools to better connect consumers with car dealers, improve its natural search so anyone can find the car they want, and index 20 new European countries.

It will also go towards comprehensive user experience testing, growing its dealer customer base in the UK and running a pilot across two US states.

The latest Carsnip funding announcement comes ahead of its first mainstream launch this spring, partnering with a number of well-known UK High Street brands. 

The investors behind Carsnip have previously backed the likes of Pinterest, Square and Wavii.