On AuctionsThe method of bidding for cars at Japanese auto auctions is probably unique in the world. Buyers who have come to an auction with us have been quite stunned at the computerization and speed at which cars are auctioned off, with some of the larger Japanese car auctions selling 4 cars at the same time at up to twelve a minute. But take a look at the numbers. How else do you auction off 6,000 cars in a day? At a rate of 400 cars/hour, youíd still need 15 hours, which is why some of these auctions start at 9am and go through midnight.
At a typical big auction the cars are in either a multistory carpark or car lots. The bidding is done in a huge auditorium similar to a university lecture theatre. There are 4 large screens at the front marked A,B,C & D. These are called A lane, B lane etc. There are 2 TV screens for each pair of chairs, one screen showing A&B lane, the other C&D lane. Each chair has 4 colour coded buttons to bid on A,B,C or D lane.
Sometimes sellers will not set a reserve price in the computer, preferring to watch a selling screen and hold off engaging the reserve until interest in the car wanes. Experience in watching the bidding lights and knowing market prices tells you when you are the only person bidding or if the computer is jumping up the price only when you push. It's like a computer game, except a very expensive one. Remember, this requires more focus than calling used auto exporters does. You can't lose your head, not for an instant - push the wrong button, push too soon or too late, and you're not going to get what you want. Or, as the beginner often discovers, more than you bargained for.
Most of the time, we bid remotely from a dedicated auction computer for our Japan used car export business.We change auctions and lanes using the keyboard, and we bid with one button instead of four, but the principle is the same. If anything, it is more difficult some days, with up to 16 cars being sold simultaneously from 6 different auction sites. Our Internet auction system has made all this pressure livable. It allows the client to be a much more active partner in fixing that crucial ceiling price with full knowledge of what he is putting his money on. We have a clear understanding together, and I can hit those buttons with a clear mind. Putting the client in the auction seat alongside me when bidding on second hand vehicles for export from Japan gives me an extra margin of confidence.