Manheim Auto Auction in Manheim, Pa., hosted a cinema sale for BMW North America on Dec. 3, drawing 70 BMW dealers, who bought 347 vehicles from four different Manheim locations.

More than 370 BMW units were available from Ohio Auto Auction in Grove City, Ohio, Atlanta Auto Auction, Riverside Auto Auction in Riverside, Calif., and Manheim Auto Auction. This ‘mega block’ concept attracts buyers from various markets together in one arena, giving them the option to buy vehicles from different locations, while all title and paperwork is administered from one location.

Manheim Auto Auction converted three of its auction lanes to represent a movie theater environment by carpeting the concrete floors and hanging curtains to divide the lanes. Lounge chairs provided VIP seating and a concession stand offered customary movie treats. Entertainment for dealers included movies featuring BMW products and the newly available BMW X3 SUV and 5 series sedan.

Vehicles did not run through the auction lanes during a cinema sale. Instead, dealers viewed a digital image of each vehicle for sale on large plasma screen televisions, as well as a projected image of the electronic condition report for each car. The lane display indicated the location of each unit as it was offered for sale. Dealers then bid on vehicles from comfortable seats in a movie-like setting. Traditional auctioneers solicited bids and ringmen gathered offers from the floor.

“The cinema sales are becoming very popular with dealers,” said Ron St. Denis, director of online operations for Manheim Auto Auction. “They really do enjoy the relaxing movie theater atmosphere, and technology is now giving them the ability to view and buy cars from four different locations during one sale at one auction.”

The sale was also offered to BMW dealers through Manheim’s Simulcast service, an online system that allowed dealers to remotely bid on and buy vehicles as they moved through live auction lanes. The 35 dealers who physically attended the Dec. 3 sale competed with 35 online buyers from all across the country, who purchased 60 percent of the total vehicles sold.

“Ninety-one percent of the vehicles received at least one Internet bid,” said Rich Perkowski, field remarketing team manager for BMW Financial Services. “The Simulcast technology provided an ideal ratio of online buyers to compete with dealers in the lanes, and having those 2,577 online bids accepted during the sale enabled us to move more than 90 percent of our cars.”

Six Lazy Boy recliners and thousands of dollars worth of BMW merchandise were awarded to participating dealers.