9 nov 21

AI – enhancer or replacer of remarketers?

This year’s Fleet Europe Remarketing Forum had its own Remarketing Village (pictured), which was dominated by AI and its possibilities. And that’s no coincidence. Artificial Intelligence is one of those mega-changes transforming the industry. How fast? Not everybody agrees. 

Back in the main conference room, Marcel De Rycker, CCO of ProovStation, showed a slide of over a half-dozen used-car platforms, all heavily funded in the last 12 months. “Each is aiming at a market share of between 10% and 20%. If that becomes true, all current remarketing players will be dead”, he joked. Or did he?

17 minutes

Artificial intelligence is hot. Or cool. In any case: it’s proving instrumental in digitising, standardising and streamlining various aspects of the remarketing process, not in the least defleeting and inspection. 

“A manual inspection takes on average 17 minutes, and a human inspector recognises only about 65% of the total damages to a car. Plus, depending on an inspector’s mood or workload, the quality of the inspection may vary”, says Mr De Rycker. 

All that is now being remedied by AI. The technology promises a speedy inspection process, one that can handle high volumes and can even take place entirely remotely and online. It could also be made available as a self-service option, for consumers wishing to sell their vehicles – which could dramatically improve transformation rates for dealers, for example. 

Remarketing Award

Adding up all those advantages, and it’s no wonder that all three nominees for this year’s Fleet Europe Remarketing Award – AUTO1.com, Cars2click and RMS/Automotive – are nominated for products and services that use AI to inspect vehicles.

Out in the Remarketing Village, Macadam has a slightly different take on the role of AI: as an enhancement rather than a replacement of human expertise. “Our system offers damage analysis based on images, and even suggests repairs and how much it would cost,” says Macadam analyst Dieter Maes. 

“But we see AI-powered inspection the way we see autonomous driving: layered in different levels, and we’re not at the fully automated level yet. Yes, our AI can spot things a human inspector perhaps wouldn’t have seen. But it remains up to that inspector to validate any of the things spotted by the AI, removing the risk of false positives.”

So, not all vehicle inspectors are dead yet. But vehicle auctions are, says Peter Grøftehauge. And the Autorola CEO is proud of the role AI, and his company in particular, has played in the process. “I’ve been saying physical auctions are dead for fifteen years, and time has proven me right.”

Yellow Golf

And the algorithms that power the online matching of used-vehicle supply and demand have created only winners, he says: “If you’re selling a yellow VW Golf in Hamburg, you can now get connected to the person looking to buy just such a car anywhere else. For the vendor, this means better prices and a faster process. For the buyer, it becomes much easier to look for vehicles that are relevant for your requirements.”

Algorithmic mix-and-matching of used-vehicle supply and demand has given a huge boost to cross-border remarketing, a term that until now has been largely synonymous with European cross-border remarketing. There’s no reason, says Grøftehauge, why that process should not go beyond the borders of the European continent, and Autorola is indeed actively scouting for opportunities elsewhere. 

Whether or not AI replaces human remarketers or merely enhances their efforts, Artificial Intelligence certainly is expanding the limits of the possible within the industry. 

Image: Benjamin Brolet

Authored by: Frank Jacobs