The car auction landscape is always changing and evolving – and 2019 will be no different. Roger Evans, sales and marketing director at G3 Remarketing, shares his thoughts on the key trends that will shape the industry this year.

Used car sales have dominated the automotive market and outperformed new registrations through 2018, and this situation is set to continue next year.

But this does not mean auction houses will not have to try hard to capitalise on the trend. Dealers have long used auctions as a key source of stock – but a sale today looks very different from, say, five years ago.

And in another five years, the changes will probably be greater still. So, what will 2019 hold in store?

Physical auctions – not just about cars any more

The role of in-lane sales for trade buyers and vendors alike has not changed much over the 70 years since they were introduced.

They allow purchasers to see, feel and hear a vehicle in person, before bidding. The difference now is the use of technology, which has reshaped possibilities.

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Customers can not only appraise a vehicle themselves, but consult a detailed video rundown, courtesy of an in-house expert. As a result, the buying experience has been enhanced, and vendors and buyers feel more confident and empowered in their decision-making processes.

Long gone are the days of uninviting, windswept buildings with few amenities – auction houses are realising the importance of a warm and welcoming site, and those that do not offer this will surely see their attendee figures dwindle.

Digital remarketing – tech transformation

Auctions can offer an abundance of facilities, but they will still never beat a dealer’s own office or sofa for convenience and comfort.

Online bidding is becoming the preferred method of purchasing for a growing majority of traders, which is made possible by great leaps forward in vendor technology and smartphone performance.

Thanks to appraised vendor inventories in high definition, audio commentary and 360-degree videos to enhance the inspection findings, traders can now confidently bid on stock without seeing it in person.

Apps and slick phone-based user interfaces are changing buyer behaviours faster than any other trend, which will see online purchasing increase by more than 20% in 2019.

Buyer and vendor relationship – truth and transparency One hundred percent transparency from vendors is a must to enable buyers to make informed purchasing decisions.

If they perceive that they are seen as unimportant, or feel ignored by big organisations, they will look to take their business elsewhere very quickly. If this can be prevented with a swipe of the thumb on their phone, then customer loyalty has to be front and centre of any remarketing firm’s strategy.

Used car finance – more to come New car sales used to dominate the market, but this all changed in 2018 when preowned vehicles came to the fore. Uncertainty surrounding WLTP, coupled with more readily available PCP finance options on pre-owned cars, will surely continue to fuel this enhanced interest in second-hand above new.

The consumer’s switch to ‘what are the repayments each month?’ rather than ‘what is the price of the car?’ will stay strong, which will see all types of used car finance grow again in 2019.

So diesels are bad news?

No! There was significant press coverage of the decline in sales of new diesel cars in 2018, but from a used market perspective, dealers know they are still a very important component of the forecourt.

Values of these vehicles, in many cases, outperformed petrol last year. As consumers discover their trips to the fuel stations have increased and their monthly running costs have risen, diesel’s 25%-plus saving in fuel bills is still a strong lure for many on a budget or driving above-average mileages.

Auctions and dealers alike must tune in to these industry trends and pass their unique insight on to customers.

Sellers are demanding more from remarketers to maximise margins and increase profitability, so those who are immersed in the motor industry are incredibly well placed to offer this intelligence.