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Top News Launches Dealer-to-Consumer Used-Car Auctions on Web

October 31, 2000

With the launch of, two Philadelphia-based businesswomen are letting everyone in on the opportunity to participate via the Internet in used-car auctions formerly open only to dealers. is the brainchild of Darryl Draper, who made a name for herself as one of the country's most successful female auto fleet managers, and Stacy Ratner, an attorney and Web designer. The women plan to open the used-car auto auction to consumers beginning in the Philadelphia area and eventually expanding nationwide.

The concept is simple: rework the used-car market by letting local dealers and corporate fleet managers post their inventory of late model vehicles on's online auto auction.

Consumers can go to the site and preview these vehicles, available from local dealerships, by make, model, location and mileage. They then choose the car they like and bid online. The auctions run three to seven days from the date the car is posted. During that time, bidders are encouraged to visit participating dealerships for an inspection or a test drive.

"Traditionally, many of these vehicles would be sold at auction -- closed to the public," said Draper, CEO and co-founder of "Dealers would rather have them sold off their lot, but when they can't, the cars go directly to a wholesale auction and the public never has the opportunity to bid on them. We have created an online used-car auction that serves both the consumer and the dealer. Used cars aren't like CDs. Consumers simply do not want to purchase a used car sight unseen off the Internet. There are too many unknowns, and every used car is unique in terms of wear and tear."

The alternative, according to Draper, is, which she says is the first site to focus on dealer-to-consumer used-car auto auctions via the Web. Consumers can now bid at prices closer to the wholesale auction price, and they gain peace of mind from buying the vehicle from a local dealership, according to Draper. Additionally, they get the chance to bid directly on prime off-lease vehicles for the first time in automotive history.

"For men and women alike, buying a car is sometimes a little daunting," said Ratner, president and co-founder of "The Internet breaks down a lot of barriers traditional car shopping presents. Our goal is to make the easiest, most buyer-driven way yet for consumers to purchase a used car. The site puts the convenience of the Web together with the comfort an dlegal protections of the dealership and the excitement of an auction. It's really the best of both systems for everyone involved."

For dealers, the model is a boon, according to Draper and Ratner. No longer do dealers have to shuttle unsold used-car inventory out to faraway auto auctions that sell and resell late model, often just-off-lease vehicles, the women point out. And at the same time, consumers who find their vehicles online with still shop in the dealership to inspect and test drive the car, which builds foot traffic -- one key to a successful auto dealership.

Two Philadelphia-area dealerships have signed on to Pacifico Dealer Group, based in the Philadelphia Auto Mall, and Holman Enterprises, in South Jersey, see the site as a way to streamline the used-vehicle sales process while building a used-car customer base that increases sales for the dealership.

"We see as an important new way to buy and sell quality used vehicles as well as build new relationships with customers," said Joe David Pacifico, vice president of Pacifico Dealer Group.

Pacifico and Holman are so excited about the concept that they are adding Internet-enabled kiosks to their showrooms so customers can bid on vehicles right from the showroom floor. "Besides the benefit to us of meeting new customers, this is a true win-win for the consumer because our inventory os refreshed faster and, in the end, our prices are lower," Pacifico said.

Automotive Resources International (ARI), a large fleet management company with 40,000 cars coming off lease each year, is another booster of the company. They plan to supply local off-lease vehicles, housed at local dealer lots and auctioned on

" offers us the efficiencies of the Internet and all that it offers in marketing and electronic commerce," said Bob Graham, manager of used vehicle sales for ARI. "For the fleet managers we work with, represents additional value and a smoother process in the turnover of vehicles."

Besides participating dealerships, used-car shoppes can place bids on by visiting the company's kiosk at the Cherry Hill (N.J.) Mall. plans to run its pilot program in the Philadelphia area for three months before expanding to key markets nationwide.

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