The speed of change in automotive retail and wholesale has been remarkable in the last couple years.
Most of the focus on the wholesale side has been on digital sales, as auction companies such as Cox Automotive's Manheim had to switch to online sales almost overnight because of the pandemic.
But while that shift was taking place, Manheim was also marching forward with a large undertaking that company executives say is streamlining operations for its staff, dealership clients and vendors.
LotVision, Manheim's system of tracking vehicle locations at the company's sprawling auction sites, is now expected to be completely rolled out by the end of September. It's one of a number of vehicle-tracking technologies launched in the industry in recent years.
With LotVision, tracking devices are placed in vehicles. There are two versions: One plugs into an OBD-II port; the other, for electric vehicles and cars and trucks from the 1996 model year and earlier, is draped over interior parts, such as a steering column or rearview mirror.
Manheim announced and began deploying the technology in 2019. Unlike the long pause for in-person auction sales, LotVision's rollout was hardly delayed by the pandemic. "We slowed down for maybe a few weeks," said Bob Grounds, Manheim's associate vice president of operational excellence.
Some 470,000 trackers were in place at Manheim locations as of late last month, with 50,000 or so yet to be installed.
Before LotVision, Manheim scanned vehicles on the ground to be grouped into broad lot locations. "And as soon as the vehicle is moved, that's old data," Grounds said.