Auction accidents happen, especially when vehicles are driven through the lanes.
To minimize the chances of vehicle accidents, ADESA has established what it calls VirtuaLane at 20 of its 75 physical auctions in the North America.
A VirtuaLane sale has all the trappings of typical physical auction lanes: an auctioneer, ring men and dealers bidding in-lane and online via ADESA LiveBlock.
But no vehicles are driven across the block. Instead, VirtuaLane vehicles appear in photos, along with their condition reports, on big screen monitors in an auction lane.
Not to worry, though.
The vehicles are on-site, reconditioned, clean, lined-up in sale order and available for tire-kicking.
Peter Kelly, president of ADESA’s parent, KAR Auction Services, and John Hammer, president of ADESA, during separate interviews at Used Car Week in November, said VirtuaLane grew out of consignors concerns about safety.
In mid-February, ADESA provided updates about VirtuaLane which evolved from a pilot program last fall to another option for its customers to buy and sell vehicles at it auctions. It was officially announced by the company this week.
“By partnering with major automotive brands such as American Honda Finance Corp. and others, we have successfully launched VirtuaLane – a modernized, safe, in-lane auction experience,” added Hammer, in a press release Monday.
“Our eastern region executive vice president, Mike Caggiano, worked closely with customers to create and lead a smooth transition to VirtuaLane.”
Not all lanes, not all sellers
Not all lanes and not all sellers at a given ADESA auction site participate in VirtuaLane sales, and its primary customers are captive finance companies, Hammer said.
“Think about off-lease cars coming back into our auctions and they have these large fleets they want to sell,” Hammer said. “It’s largely customer driven. We can envision it in all our auctions.”
Kelly said consignors that want to explore VirtuaLane sales also want to determine if they can achieve the same business outcomes and dealer satisfaction without the vehicles being driven during the sale.
“It’s a thing we’ve certainly been asking for many years,” said Kelly who took on his current title in January.
He was president of KAR’s digital services and its chief technology officer during the November interview.
“Should we try this? Is there enough adoption of these technologies? But, the difference now is we’re actually doing it and have been doing it for quite a few months with a lot of success.”
In 2017, KAR Auction sold 5.5 million vehicles across its business units with more than half of those vehicles sold to buyers who placed their winning bid though a desktop computer or mobile device, Kelly said.
That number includes online only sales on KAR’s OPENLANE or TradeRev platforms, when the vehicle is not at a physical auction and hybrid sales such as VirtuaLane and ADESA LiveBlock when the vehicle is at an auction — either parked or in-lane — and sold to an online bidder.
“Every year we see a little more in the online world. What does that mean in the long run? It’s anyone’s guess, but I expect the online trend to continue,” Kelly said. “We’re doing our shopping online, our own communication, our own news, we’re all moving online. I think that’s going to continue.”
ADESA took a leading role in auction safety in 2015 when it agreed to share Safe T. Sam, a cartoon, super-hero-type mascot dressed in blue jeans, yellow boots and a green and white shirt, and its workplace safety training program with National Auto Auction Association-member auctions.
The company is constantly trying to come up with ways to make its auctions safer for dealers and its employees, Hammer said.
For example, the company added cross walks in their auctions to indicate pedestrian pathways, and installed safety bollards at several auctions to ensure cars stay in their lane during the sale.
Because dealers often use their mobile phones to bid on and gather information about vehicles and other things, ADESA is testing features to warn customers when a car is moving.
In one such feature, a moving vehicle triggers lights that shine on the floor as a visual warning for people who are nearby.
“So when a dealer is on the phone near a car and they see the light, they know to move away,” Hammer said. “We’re going to test stanchions that block out the lane, places where you can walk and can’t walk.”
VirtuaLane is available at the following ADESA U.S. and Canadian locations:
ADESA Atlanta, Fairburn, Ga.
ADESA Boston, Framingham, Mass.
ADESA Brasher’s, Rio Linda, Calif.
ADESA Charlotte, Charlotte, N.C.
ADESA Cincinnati/Dayton, Franklin, Ohio
ADESA Concord, Acton, Mass.
ADESA Dallas, Hutchins, Texas
ADESA Golden Gate, Tracy, Calif.
ADESA Kansas City, Belton, Mo.
ADESA Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Nev.
ADESA Minneapolis, Dayton, Minn.
ADESA Montreal, St. Eustache, Que.
ADESA Nashville, Old Hickory, Tenn.
ADESA New Jersey, Manville, N.J.
ADESA Northwest, Eugene, Ore.
ADESA Orlando, Sanford, Fla.
ADESA Sarasota, Bradenton, Fla.
ADESA Syracuse, Cicero, N.Y.
ADESA Vancouver, Richmond, B.C.
ADESA Washington, D.C., Dulles, Va.
“Every day we strive to meet our customers’ evolving needs and integrate the latest technological advancements in the industry to meet their expectations,” said Trevor Henderson, ADESA Canada’s chief operating officer, in Monday's press release.
“This collaboration with some of our key customers delivers better technology and an improved, safer auction experience.”
Cars as weapons?
But just as safety prevention measures take on many guises, so do the kinds of occurrences people need to be protected from.
Larry Hero, general manager of America’s Auto Auction, said safety is the “No. 1 priority” at his company, and its main focus is making sure employees and customers at its 21 auctions sites are protected from outsiders who might deliberately harm people and/or property.
Hero said customers want to bring their own service technicians and/or inspectors must introduce outside guests to auction personnel, the reason for the guests’ visits must be stated, and guests must remain in areas open to the market for that day.
Auctions holding areas, their back shops and its recondition areas are strictly off limits, he said.
“We’ve upgraded our camera system, we’ve upgraded our security system and we’ve upgraded our employee badges to see who walking in and out,” Hero said.
“We have 800 to 1,000 vehicles with the keys in them. If (people) can use planes as weapons, they can use cars as weapons.”