Auto Trader will launch an online service later this year allowing fleet companies to sell de-fleeted vehicles directly to dealers, bypassing auction houses.

Speaking to a trade publication, business development director Ed Hummel said the project will start with a first small-scale pilot phase, before fully launching in October, with a target of 40,000 vehicle listing per month.

Hummel said fees for the service would be shared by both parties, rather than having dealers alone pay, as it currently happens in auctions.

He added he believes the current lack of any physical legacy assets like auction sites would give Auto Trader an edge over auction houses.

Auto Trader will offer to connect dealers with logistics operators for the transport of auctioned vehicles through platform Motor Trade Delivery, which Auto Trader acquired in April of last year. Vehicles will also undergo a condition report by Auto Trader or a third party as soon as they are de-fleeted.

Hummel said research conducted by Auto Trader on 250,000 ex-lease vehicles showed average times of 34 days from de-fleeting to dealer listing on Auto Trader. He attributed this to the number of logistical movements involved as the vehicles moved from fleet company to auction house to dealers.

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“We saw there was an opportunity to do things more efficiently,” he said. “We believe we can at least halve this time by using a proper digital, data-driven process. If we shorten the period, leasing companies will benefit from a better selling price and cash in their bank sooner.”

A number of fleet and leasing companies have been pivoting alternatives to auctions for the disposal of vehicles.

LeasePlan is due to expand its direct-to-consumer platform to the UK and other countries soon, while Sixt Leasing is already operating a similar service of its own.

Arval has been selling de-fleeted cars directly to dealers since 2010, and Groupe PSA recently began remarketing vehicles formerly used by its UK employees directly to consumers.