2 May 23

Autorola “grows together with our customers”

Peter Grøftehauge is not a boastful man. The CEO and founder of Autorola doesn’t need to be. The figures speak for themselves. When the economy falters, as it did these last years, Autorola still managed to grow. And now the economy rebounds, the Denmark-based online remarketing specialist flourishes. And expands. Firmly implanted in the European landscape, Autorola now casts its eye further afield. Expect a lot of growth in the Middle East. 

“Last year, we realized a net turnover of 438 million Danish crowns (ca. €59 million, Ed.), a 15% increase over the previous year. We added 100 new people, and we now have a staff of around 600. This year, we expect a 20% increase in business.”

“How we’re going to do that? Well, our motto is: ‘Sell, sell, sell’ (laughs). But we’re also benefiting from more volume entering back into the market. That allowed our existing customers to grow their business. And it allowed us to gain new customers.” 

Plus 20% is nothing to sneeze at. How will you attract all that new business?

“Autorola is a strong brand, with a presence not just throughout the EU and the UK, but also in Turkey, the UAE, Australia, Mexico and Brazil. We’re a leader in online remarketing and automotive IT solutions for professional used-car and fleet management. Our online auction platform is used by over 70,000 active buyers. Our services also include vehicle inspections and compound services.”

“Additionally, we offer customized solutions to fleet owners covering the specific needs in OEM, bank and leasing segments all over the world. And Indicata, our next-generation tool for managing used-vehicle inventories, uses live business intelligence and market insights.”

Do you see any particular areas of growth?

“In geographic terms, Denmark, the UK, Germany and Turkey are all doing really well. And we’re sensing big opportunities in the Middle East. In general, we notice that – since the pandemic, and probably partly because of it – there is now a much greater acceptance of selling and buying cars online. And that offer is becoming increasingly relevant and attractive, from a buyer perspective.”

“A particular focus for growth is our work for large multinationals like OEMs, banks and lease companies. Typically, they test our platform by selling their used cars online in one market. When they see this is working well, they expand to their other markets. This phenomenon is one of our major growth engines: we’re growing together with our customers. But I would be amiss if I didn’t mention our external sales team here, who are doing an excellent job of winning new business for us.”

What new things will you be offering in 2023?

“We’ll be launching a new Residual Value forecasting tool via Indicata. It’s already being piloted with some of our major customers. This tool is the next-generation rollout across Europe of a tool we’ve been using for many years in Denmark. It’s a strong tool, based on powerful algorithms and real-time data. We have the ambition that this will be the best RV forecasting tool in Europe.”

“What’s interesting, is that the algorithms will be the same for every country, so our customers will be able to compare apples with apples, instead of apples with oranges. So the data the tool will generate will be consistent and transparent. We’re already getting very good feedback from the customers where the tool is being piloted. But ultimately, it will be up to the market to determine whether this really is the best RV tool. So, we’ll launch it, and listen to our customers.”

Fleet Europe’s upcoming Remarketing Expert Track (see below) focuses on the digitization gap: everyone knows digital is the way forward, but many are still looking for the right path. Is that something you notice in the marketplace?

“It’s quite often that remarketing specialists invest a lot in going digital, but then don’t get the results they expected. The problem is not the digital aspect per se, but the implementation. To put it differently: it’s a change management issue. And change can be slow. It can take up to two years for companies to optimise the digital environment in a way that sees them maximise the benefits, and get the appropriate results. The road from A to B is to educate everyone involved. And to learn as you go, be it how to reduce lead times, or optimise sales flows.”

Is that something Autorola can help with?

“Precisely. We have a team of consultants that help our customers not just to set up a solution, but also to use it optimally. I want our customers to earn more money thanks to us. By getting more money per car they sell, and by reducing lead times per car by up to 10 days.”

“How much money? Say you turn over 10,000 cars per year. If we can help you earn €700 more per car, and reduce their lead times by 10 days each – calculating that one day equals €20 in cost – then the return is €9 million extra per year.”

“Look, I think we’re still just at the beginning of the digital transformation, even in advanced markets like the UK, Germany, France or Italy. There are many companies who are still not fully on board. And those that are, still have a major scope for improvement.”

Are EVs still a problem for RV setting, or have they become sufficiently widespread to be ‘mainstream’ now?

“That’s a good question. Much is still unknown. It’s true there are more EV models now, across virtually all segments. However, establishing the RV of older EV models in a market with much more advanced EV models is challenging. And let’s not forget that Tesla has started dynamically lowering and increasing the price of its models, which will have an impact on RVs. As will the advent of Chinese EV models.”

“Overall, these Chinese EV brands will launch successfully on the European market – even if some individual brands may fail to make an impact. The result of these relatively cheaper EVs will be to put massive pressure on the used car market, and on RVs. So we can expect turbulence ahead. Now already, supply is already exceeding demand. That’s because consumers are not embracing used BEVs as readily as they do new BEVs.”

Final question, Peter: Can you tell us a bit more about your expansion plans in the Middle East? 

“First of all, we want to develop a strong setup in the UAE, together with our joint-venture partner Al Futtaim. They are a group with a wide presence throughout the region, in about 15 countries. Together with them, we’re examining in which of those countries we can grow together.”

“We will grow wherever and whenever we can deliver excellent value to our customers. More and more, we’re doing that with AI. Artificial Intelligence is already embedded in our vehicle inspection and recognition software, for example. But it will be further expanded. And we’ll soon have exciting news in that field too.”

Thank you Peter, and good luck!

The upcoming Remarketing Expert Track (4 May, 2 pm CET) is a two-hour dive into the shift towards online and digital remarketing activities – and the changes that shift requires. For more and how to register, click here.

Image: Autorola

Authored by: Frank Jacobs