Beginning this week, Manheim is bringing back in-lane bidders at five pilot locations, with three additional sites to follow next week.
The pilot locations include Manheim Darlington in South Carolina, Manheim Tulsa, Manheim Kansas City, Manheim Dallas and Manheim Dallas-Fort Worth.
Although buyers will be in lanes, vehicles still will not be running through and instead will be displayed on large screens.
Manheim President Grace Huang said the company remains committed to developing its digital platforms while balancing that with what its dealer customers want. Huang said the company has been gathering feedback and "then matching it with what we what we see in the data from a safety perspective."
It's led to a phased-in, "methodical" plan for reopening aspects of the company's auctions, she said. Sellers were allowed to come back on auction blocks to represent vehicles on June 8, for example.
Both Manheim and KAR Global's ADESA announced they would switch to digital-only auctions on March 16, as the novel coronavirus began triggering stay-at-home orders in some parts of the U.S.
Some independent auctions continued to run auctions with buyers in lanes throughout the height of the pandemic, depending on where they were located.
ADESA brought in-lane bidders back several weeks ago, starting with seven locations. ADESA President John Hammer said it should be rolled out to 28 U.S. locations this week. For each company, the number of buyers allowed at each facility will be determined by local or state ordinances and the size of the locations.
Hammer said some dealers have been more interested in previewing cars in person than actually staying on-site for the sales. Previewing vehicles in person is now allowed at the vast majority of Manheim's and ADESA's auctions.