Manheim Europe is preparing to launch its internet-based vehicle sale and purchase facility, Manheim Online, in France.
The initiative follows the opening of an auction centre in Nantes where it plans eventually to sell 10,000 vehicles per year.
It has already been launched in Spain and Portugal and also operates in Australia, Canada, the USA and UK.
This type of internet stock inventory and electronic auction could lead to Manheim developing physical auction sites in continental Europe, according to John Bailey, chief executive of Manheim Europe.
'The electronic system allows all dealers in a country to view their manufacturer's stock,' he said. 'If the system works locally, we might launch physical auctions, but I am reluctant to invest too much time to establish auctions in countries without an auction culture.'
Bailey sees major opportunities to modernise used car remarketing processes and improve residual values in Europe, but much depends on the willingness of countries to adopt an auction culture.
Car manufacturers are paying more attention at a pan-European level to maximising residual values, particularly on ex-rental vehicles, but head office influence on sales operations is limited while subsidiaries operate as individual profit centres.
France has an established auction heritage, and Manheim is looking to develop this with its closed sales for dealers and traders at its centres in Bordeaux, Marseille and Nantes. (September 2001)