What Car? editors gear up as Dennis plans rival launch

What Car?: new editorial roles

Motoring magazine What Car? has appointed two new editors ahead of the launch of a rival from Dennis Publishing.

Steve Fowler, who edited What Car? between 1999 and 2002, has been brought in to fill the newly created post of group editor.

David Motton, What Car? deputy editor, has been promoted to editor following the departure of Rob Aherne, who has taken the helm at sister title Autocar.

An additional post of editor of the magazine’s website and digital operations has also been created – for which owner Haymarket is in the process of recruiting.

Fowler said the new jobs had been created following Aherne’s departure to Autocar.

What Car? also has the spin-offs What Car? Price Guide and the bimonthly What Car? Road Test Directory – which he said required a bigger team.

“What Car? is a really big beast these days because we have got three magazines, a website and various other properties such as the awards. It really is too much for one person to do as an editor’s job,” he told Press Gazette.

“David is an extremely talented guy but is a fairly young editor, so I will be helping him out. While he’s concentrating on getting the magazine out each month, I’ll be taking an overview and looking at how we can develop the products along with him to make sure we don’t stand still.”

Fowler left What Car? two years ago to become editor of Autocar. He left Autocar last year to edit another Haymarket title, What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision.

Motton has worked on What Car? since 1999, having previously written for Autocar, Motor Sport and Classic and Sports Car.

Fowler said there would be “a fairly major development” within the three What Car? magazines over the coming months. “There will be a change in the design and an additional offering – which won’t have been seen before on one of our products,” he said.

Commenting on the launch of Dennis’s “Project Squirrel”, which aims to attract readers who are disillusioned with What Car? and Top Gear, he said: “What Car? has been around for 30 years now and there have been quite a few times in the past where people have come and said ‘we’re going to find a new sector’.

“Other than when Top Gear launched 10 years or so ago, nobody has really managed to grow the market.

We have seen many others come and go.”

He added: “Hopefully Dennis will be able to grow the market and we’ll take some of that growth with them.”

Fowler said there were no plans to reposition the magazine. “We are there simply to help people get the best car they can at the best price and to make sure they get the best value from it.

“That is what What Car? has always stood for and to confuse that message would be dangerous,” he said.

By Ruth Addicott

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