Plan Insurance Blog

Car Auction Houses To Close Permanently?

Rumours are circulating in the motor trade market that BCA will not be reopening its auction houses. As it stands the company have confirmed that physical sites will remain closed and “under review” for the foreseeable future.

BCA operates 21 auction houses in the UK. However during the coronavirus crisis it moved entirely to online sales via the BCA Buyer app and BCA Online. Car Dealer Magazine is reporting that a high level member of the BCA team has commented that in person car auctions are ‘unlikely to ever return’.

With restrictions easing, large numbers of car dealers recently started to operate from their showrooms again. Many independent auction houses did likewise, all be it, whilst adhering to Covid-19 safety protocols. In contrast, the fact BCA’s operations have remained closed has only thrown fuel on the fire of claims that their physical operations may not return. Reports are that redundancy talks have been held with a significant number of BCA employees at their car auction sites and number of senior auctioneers “have been let go”.

BCA’s competitor Manheim is also continuing to only offer online auctions. Though they are offering the option for traders to inspect stock ahead of auctions. Manheim stance is that traders can expect a “return to physical sales at some point this year’.

Old school dealers are probably most saddened by the prospect of a permanent shift to online bidding. Though it might be argued that a large number of dealers actually prefer the convenience of online auctions. With more traders taking part in each sale virtually, prices are strong.

The success of online trading and the ability to significantly reduce overheads will no doubt drive BCA’s decision making process. Though it is to be seen whether online demand will remain as strong once Covid restrictions end entirely? Many traders are likely to want a combination of both virtual and physical sites. The added security of being able to see the vehicle in person remains a bonus as well as the social aspect of interacting with friends and contacts within the industry.

It appears the independent auction houses have a real opportunity to capitalise on this shift by the larger players. By offering a hybrid model going forward they could have the best of both worlds.

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