Three years ago, I wrote in this publication calling on the remarketing industry to take responsibility — and action — to improve auction safety. And in a keynote address to the National Auto Auction Association last year, I renewed my controversial plea: Let's stop running cars down the lanes and start saving lives.
Over the past several months, we've all faced a safety threat more dangerous than any auction operation. COVID-19 forced us and many other auctions, customers, dealerships and manufacturers to change the way we think and operate. And while the effects of this pandemic likely will impact our industry for months or years to come, the experience generated strong support for my position on safety.
COVID-19 was an unfortunate catalyst that accelerated the digital transformation of wholesale remarketing. And it proved that millions of used vehicles can be sold more efficiently, more effectively and, most importantly, more safely through a digital marketplace.
KAR took early and decisive action in response to COVID-19, suspending our operations for two full weeks. We then relaunched our North American ADESA auctions in an online-only simulcast format, supplementing our other digital platforms. Other major auction companies followed suit, and collectively, we've supported a promising market recovery and helped mitigate the spread of COVID-19. And whether intentional or not, this digital shift also prevented the fatalities and life-changing injuries caused by running cars through physical auction lanes.