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Online market taking the “scrap” out of car wrecking

First you had TV takeback, a Government scheme to discourage New Zealanders from throwing their old television sets in the landfill. Now a Kiwi online scrap car marketplace has jumped on the takeback bandwagon, relaunching itself as CarTakeBack, in part as an attempt to distance itself from the bad guy reputation of the scrap metal industry.

TV loves a dodgy scrap merchant – from Breaking Bad (where several of the show’s nastier scenes took place in scrap car yards) back through Minder, The Sweeney, even Steptoe and Son.

Breaking Bad scenes in wreckers’ yards mostly didn’t end well

Creators of 1970s police drama The Sweeney weren’t averse to setting the odd shootout in a scrapyard

Now Scrap Car Recycling, an online marketplace linking owners wanting to get rid of their dangerous or unusable cars, with a pre-vetted list of car wreckers, is rebranding as CarTakeBack.

New Zealand manager Toni Caudwell says three years ago when existing UK brand CarTakeBack set up a New Zealand subsidiary, they felt Kiwis would respond better to the name “Scrap Car Recycling”.

That has changed, she says, and the website will be rebranded over the next month.

“It’s important that people know that if they are selling through us, they are dealing with a reputable company. There’s a lot out there that aren’t, but we vet our wreckers to make sure they are compliant with local council and environmental regulations.

“In fact we would like to see higher standards for vehicles being recycled, around disposal of waste oils, for example, where many councils don’t have much regulation.”

In New Zealand, around 150,000 vehicles get scrapped each year.

The online marketplace is set up so punters with unwanted vehicles enter details online – the make, model, registration number and postal code – and the system connects them with one or more dismantlers or wreckers within their area.

Clients are offered various options based on price and whether or not they want the car collected or if they will drop it off, Caudwell says.

“We help the dad whose teenage son has crashed a car and it doesn’t seem worth it to repair so they write it off. And then we are referred to the wife who isn’t using her car that’s been lying around the garage.”

Listing a vehicle is free and car wreckers pay a referral fee.

As well as rebranding as CarTakeBack, the company is also setting up a Trade Me-style auction system for old cars not quite ready for the scrap heap.

“Some people have got older cars, that might have attributes that make them worth more than the scrap value to another car owner. Rather than accepting the $300 that they might get offered for scrap, for example, they can put the car up for auction and might get $1000.”

 “Australia has been much stronger in terms of growth because of the volume over there of people and cars,” says Toni. “We hope to grow business further in New Zealand though already having a reputable name for car recycling.”

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