Car dealers move online

Second-hand Japanese car dealers can now replenish their stocks without even leaving their desks. Aucsat (Auto Auction Network), an Auckland-based vehicle auction company, is launching a real-time dealer-only electronic auction service. Aucsat has been running as a trial system since August 1998 and chief executive David Vinsen says it is now ready to be launched commercially.

Second-hand Japanese car dealers can now replenish their stocks without even leaving their desks. Aucsat (Auto Auction Network), an Auckland-based vehicle auction company, is launching a real-time dealer-only electronic auction service.

A joint venture between Sumitomo of Japan and Asia Business Venture Holdings of Singapore, Aucsat has been running as a trial system since August 1998 and chief executive David Vinsen says it is now ready to be launched commercially.

Vehicles to be auctioned are inspected, photographed and graded on a 10-point scale by Aucsat, then listed in a catalogue distributed to all dealers.

Vinsen says that of the 6000 cars auctioned weekly in Japan, around 2000 are likely to be suitable for the New Zealand market.

Vinsen says the Auckland operation is one of the most advanced auction systems available worldwide and is linked with Japan's Aucnet satellite network through a dedicated cable.

During the auction, the current bid in yen is shown as well as the estimated landed cost in New Zealand dollars, including Aucsat's fees, door-to-door freight, GST and customs clearance charges.

The auction is rapid, with a vehicle processed every 20 seconds. As they are sold, each vehicle is checked by an independent inspector to ensure it is "as described".

Vinsen says the next stage will be a fully automated logistics system to track every vehicle from purchase through checks and customs. Early next year he expects to begin using EDI (electronic data interchange) in conjunction with Citibank.

This is the first e-commerce site of several planned by Sumitomo.

"It'll operate as a template," says Vinsen, "And they'll expand into selling electronics from Japan to the US."

Sumitomo is also in discussion with a major European chemicals company.

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