Interview Lars Agten, Country manager OPENLANE Belgium

“Every vehicle, even with heavy damage, still has a value,” said Lars Agten, country manager at OPENLANE Belgium.

OPENLANE, through its robust online platform, connects OEMs, fleet owners, wholesalers and dealers with buyers in more than 50 countries across Europe. In a conversation with Belgium country manager Lars Agten, we inquired whether the quasi-contactless operation of this concept has given them an advantage during the coronavirus pandemic.

Link2fleet: Mr. Agten, has OPENLANE’s digital auction platform been affected by the corona crisis and the lockdown?

Lars Agten: Of course, no sectors have been spared, even automotive. Business did slow, but did not completely stop, and now is back higher than anticipated. We have continued to sell cars, especially to dealers serving the private market. Because many factories have come to a standstill as a result of the lockdown, delivery times for new cars have often been very high, causing many people to instead choose a second-hand car. But in the meantime, we also notice that we have returned to our normal rhythm very quickly since the exit from the lockdown.

L2F: What about the light commercial vehicle market, which is more aimed at professional end customers?

LA: The light commercial vehicle (LCV) market is also holding out strong. These types of cars are often older and have driven more kilometers before they reach the second-hand market, but we also have quite a few young LCVs with roughly 30,000 kilometers on offer. The share of LCVs is increasing year-over-year, and today they account for approximately 1 in 8 sales on our platform.

The advantage of OPENLANE is that we nearly always find a buyer regardless of the condition of the vehicle. Even badly damaged cars or vehicles with technical problems still have economic value.

OPENLANE also offers additional auxiliary services that add value for customers—inspecting the cars for sale ourselves, offering them through our own auctions, collecting them from the customer and, as an option, removing the lettering before delivery to the buyer. And we continue to expand our offerings to provide customers even more facilities and customization. We’re also focused on strengthening online transactions through new inspection technology.

L2F: But repairs cost a lot of money, right? How quickly does damage lead to forced recycling?

LA: In Belgium, the repair costs are high, but the advantage of a European platform like OPENLANE is that your vehicle is also offered in countries where a repair is much less expensive, making it a great fit for buyers in Eastern and Central Europe. We also see that nearly 95 percent of all vehicles sold through our platform are destined for export, giving customers an even greater opportunity for sales, no matter the condition.