19 Nov 14

“VIN reduces costly errors, improving RVs”

How do you register the cars in your system? It's a simple question, but there seems to be no easy answer: “Wrong and incomplete vehicle information destroys value”, according to Steffen Schick, who spoke at the Remarketing Forum 2014 in Hamburg on Tuesday. Schick, who is Chief Product Officer at EurotaxGlass's Group (ETG), offered some insights in how to use VIN (Vehicle Identification Numbers) to reduce the margin of error – and ultimately improve Residual Values.

“Vehicle information can get lost throughout the vehicle lifecycle, from in-fleeting through vehicle administration to de-fleeting of the vehicle”, Mr. Schick warns. The issue is a costly one: “Every year 1 million risk fleet vehicles are disposed of in Europe. About 10% of vehicles are affected by incomplete or wrong information. The average value lost upon disposal is about €250 per vehicle. That adds up to a total of €25 million in value lost every year”.

Unique code

There is, however, an easy way to reduce these avoidable losses. The vehicle identification number, VIN for short, is a unique code used by the automotive industry to identify individual motor vehicles via a unique code, which includes a serial number. VINs have been used since the 1950s, but were standardised only from the 1980s forward. Yet they remain under-used, resulting in the aforementioned, avoidable losses.

As one of Europe's leading vehicle evaluation services, ETG maintains a large and complex database on a wide range of vehicles across many countries, sourced from OEM manufacturing databases and containing OEM build information, among others. VIN Look-up is a web application that allows customers to use VINs to search the ETG database for harmonised vehicle information.


VIN Look-up is but one of several similar systems across Europe offering such a service. Others include VRM Look-up in the UK, Transportstyrelsen in Sweden, and Vin Decoding, available for all countries. “The latter only offers info on make, model, model year and engine. The former also offer info on body type, first registration date, and partial information on trim”, said Schick. “VIN Look-up offers complete trim information, as well as all installed driver options, serial equipment, an overview of basic technical information, plus the production date (as opposed to the registration date)”.

Initially developed in and for Germany, where it covers 21 brands (90% of the used car market) VIN Look-up is now also available in Austria (11 brands, 57%), Switzerland (9 brands, 45%), Spain (8 brands, 31%), Finland (5 brands, 29%), France (6 brands, 17%), Portugal (11 brands, 56%) and the UK (1 brand, 5%).

“VIN Look-up reduces the risk of costly errors and improves process efficiency. It increases price realisation and enables a correct valuation of options, both of which support Residual Values (RVs)”, Schick concluded.

Authored by: Frank Jacobs