Aston Barclay has launched an online virtual action platform, narrowing the capabilities gap with rivals in the increasingly competitive de-fleeting and car remarketing space.

The platform, which comes with a smartphone app, allows for auctions to be conducted from multiple sites, on stock from different vendors. It allows for vendors to auction off vehicles directly from de-fleet and refurbishment centres, without the need to move stock to a physical site. Mercedes-Benz has already conducted multi-site virtual auction through the system.

“Selling the cars online offers them out to a wider geographic buyer base which adds a different dynamic to a normal physical sale,” Aston Barclay chief executive Neil Hodson said. “Future platform development will enable vendors to offer stock just to selected or invited buyers.”

The implementation of online auctions closes Aston Barclay’s capabilities gap with rivals that already offer the option, such as BCA, Cox Automotive’s Manheim and G3 Remarketing, which started as online-only vendor and subsequently expanded to a physical site in Leeds.

The market for car remarketing agreements has given signs of increased competition over the last half-year, as high volumes of cars hit the second-hand market following the PCP boom of recent years.

BMW UK and its fleet division Alphabet have agreed a partnership with BCA, in what the auction house says was its single biggest car remarketing contract ever. Santander Consumer Finance, meanwhile, has tapped into both Manheim and Aston Barclay, and Hitachi Capital is relying on SVA Remarketing.

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However, digitalisation risks eroding the role of intermediaries. Auto Trader has revealed plans to sell de-fleeted vehicles directly from fleet providers to dealers, as BNP Paribas’s Arval has been doing since 2010.

LeasePlan, meanwhile, is going further by remarketing directly to consumers through its CarNext retail platform. The platform allows to lease vehicles on subscription packages, a first for the second-hand car market.

G3 Remarketing reported rising levels of voluntary termination on PCP contracts last year, and recent month-on-month reports from Cazana have found ex-PCP cars are retaining less remarketing value compared to 12 months ago.