MAMA Gets a Bird's-eye View of Wholesale Auctions

20 Oct 2016 9:38 AM | Anonymous

MATTESON, Illinois – Last week, MAMA members had the exclusive opportunity to get an inside look at the fascinating process of a wholesale auto auction at Manheim Chicago. Manheim has three Chicagoland locations, including Manheim Chicago, which moves more than 10,000 vehicles through the auction lanes each week.

MAMA members, who attended the meeting, witnessed thousands of vehicles being showcased “in the lane.” This is where the buyers bid on vehicles that will go back to their dealership or fleet operation. Then they toured the body shop, paint shop and reconditioning area, providing a sneak peak at how vehicles are prepped before going to the live auction. 

“With more than 4,000 vehicles on the block each week, the process seems overwhelming, but in reality, it’s organized chaos,” said Mike Cesta, Manheim Chicago’s general manager.


Manheim, part of the Cox Automotive network, has been a leading wholesale auction house for 71 years, employing more than 30,000 team members worldwide. Last year, Manheim North America registered nearly 7.5 million vehicles and facilitated $50 billion in sales, touching three out of four cars sold in the United States and Canada.  

Manheim Arena Illinois in Bolingbrook and Manheim Milwaukee make up the other two Chicagoland locations.  

Michelle Krebs, senior analyst of Cox Automotive’s Autotrader, kicked off the lunch presentation by discussing industry trends and disruptors of both new vehicle and CPO vehicle sales.  Krebs shared data from 2009 – 2015 and discussed that while the adult population has increased by 38 million people, new vehicle sales have remained steady at the 17.5 million mark. Additionally, Krebs said that while consumers are finding ways to make it work, the number one reason they don’t buy or lease vehicles are because they cannot afford them.


Grace Huang, Manheim Senior Vice President of Inventory Services, next provided an overview of the Cox Automotive business, which includes 25 affiliates. Huang stated that consumers buy some 40 million used vehicles per year with Chicago being the number three largest overall vehicle market. 

“Seventy percent of vehicle registrations in Chicago are used,” Huang said,

Cesta wrapped up the informational day with news that Manheim is investing $4.6 million in Manheim Chicago with increased lane capacity and 34 new acres of land, which will allow them to move even more vehicles in the future.

Overall, it was a terrific learning experience providing a birds-eye view into the world of auto auctioning. 


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