You may have heard that Cazoo’s world is crumbling around it, with the used-car sales operator that arrived in a blaze of pricey marketing having endured an 85% collapse in its share price since it floated last August. Many excuses are being touted for that reversal in fortunes, but the market seems to have finally worked out that while nothing is fundamentally wrong with the business of selling used cars, Cazoo isn’t the disruptor it thinks it is. As it’s struggling to climb out of the red, traditional (and much lower-valued) dealer groups are bagging record margins, sales and profits. Cazoo’s business trades on and still plans to sell tens of thousands of used cars this year, but a major restructuring has begun. Considering the blaze of publicity about Cazoo’s shortcomings (it hasn’t just lost investors a lot of money but also undermined appetite for investment in any similar firms, making its name for now a byword for stock-market disaster), it’s understandable that the bonfire of cuts including its subscription arm (at a cost of more than £200m) has received scant attention. Cazoo’s punchiness on subscription always seemed at odds with surveys from What Car? suggesting that no more than 1-2% of buyers are interested in ‘buying’ a car via what is effectively an ultra-short-term lease. For some observers, the benefit to Cazoo was more about associating its name with one of the buzzwords of the industry as it strove to prove its cutting-edge credentials to would-be investors rather than profits, albeit around a model that’s predicted to boom in time. Certainly that was the justification for its slew of acquisitions in recent years, paying £65.5m for Drover in the UK (when it had about 2000 subscribers), £68m for Brumbrum in Italy, £60.4m for Cluno in Germany and £23.6m for Swipcar in Spain. Now all are being wound down as Cazoo looks to save cash. From the outside, this can only read as though the subscription market isn’t close to being mature enough to make business sense any time soon. Certainly there are plenty of operators hoping Cazoo’s switch doesn’t reflect the market’s long-term health. Several car makers are in on the act (Volvo has Care, Hyundai Mocean and JLR Pivotal, for instance), plus there are multi-brand firms (Mycardirect and Wagonex) and EV specialists (Elmo and Onto) all hoping to steal a march by investing now. The question is when – if ever – the market will be ready, because subscription seems to work best for those who don’t know what they want, and that pressure has never been greater than it is today, with the myriad powertrains available.