Car auctions set to sell exclusively online during second lockdown as auction halls forced to close

Time 12 months ago

Car auctions are expected to remain operating purely online during the second national lockdown with one big firm confirming the move.

Cox Automotive told Car Dealer in a statement its Manheim Auctions Services business will remain operating online but buyers will not be able to physically view vehicles.

Collection and delivery services will continue, though, and the firm is seeking clarity on click and collect activities for its Manheim Vehicle Services division.

The statement came as Car Dealer was hosting a special Car Dealer Live show where issues including how dealers could still operate and source stock during the month-long second lockdown were discussed (a clip of the broadcast you can watch at the top of this story).

A Cox Automotive spokesperson said: ‘We have been discussing the implications of these new measures on our operations as priority today and working with trade industry bodies to understand more detail behind the proposed changes.

‘The situation is very fluid, and we are acting now based on what we know.

‘Our plans will flex as the guidance evolves and we will provide further updates to customers as necessary.’

The spokesperson added: ‘Manheim Auction Services’ Simulcast online auction programme will continue as is.

‘Buyers will still be able to collect vehicles by appointment and we will continue to collect and deliver vehicles in a safe and appropriate manner for customers requiring that service.

‘Our Accelerate customer support programme will remain in place. However, buyers will not be able to physically preview vehicles from Thursday.’

Cox Automotive’s statement follows the National Association of Motor Auctions (NAMA) telling its members this morning that auction rooms will have to close to the public during lockdown, but can remain operating online.

Online auction firm Motorway will continue to operate during the lockdown too.

James Bush from the firm said: ‘Despite the UK going into a second lockdown, our virtual doors will be staying open so it will be business as usual for Motorway.

‘We have always been 100 per cent online.

‘With all this supply, a second lockdown could be a key time to get some great deals on amazing stock. Our online-only platform which includes a contact-free transport service, means dealers can browse, bid, buy and receive the best stock from the comfort of their home.’

And he added that now might be the best time for dealers to get new stock in place.

He added: ‘What the industry cannot afford to do right now is rest on its laurels and wait for the government to open things up again.

‘Smart dealers can use this time wisely, to source the best quality stock to either sell on immediately via delivery or click and collect, and stock their forecourts for when physical sites reopen.

‘We already know how buoyant the market is after a lockdown – this time round it’s much easier to be confident of high levels of trading in the months ahead.”

Car Dealer contacted a number of auction companies including BCA but hasn’t received any confirmation as to other firms’ intended plans as of yet. We will issue further updates when we have them.

The decision to continue with an online-only programme of selling used cars will likely cast further doubt on the chances of physical auctions rooms opening fully ever again, despite dealers wanting to return to pre-coronavirus days.

During the summer Manheim and BCA were only running online-only sales.

BCA expanded its sales programme with a new Saturday online auction, while Manheim did reopen its sites to bidders on September 14 as long as they gave 24 hours notice of attending.

During the summer BCA had as many as 1,500 buyers logging on for its online sales and remained tight-lipped on whether it would restart its physical auctions.

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Aston Barclay also allowed bidders to view stock in advance, but was holding auctions online.

However, some firms including City Auction Group did reopen auction halls and installed strict Covid-secure measures to keep buyers safe.

You can watch the full broadcast from today below

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer.

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