More than 70 franchised dealers and buyers met online last month to purchase more than 400 factory-owned BMWs during a first-of-its-kind Manheim Simulcast Cinema sale, said Used Car News.

Manheim has held successful Simulcast and Cinema sales individually for many months, but this was the first time the auction chain joined the two, physically hosting a sale with a live auctioneer and offering vehicles from that sale and three other auctions at the same time.

Unlike Simulcast sales where auctioned vehicles are physically rolled through an auction lane, Cinema sales display vehicles, along with vehicle descriptions, condition reports, disclosures and mileage, on computer monitors before a live audience. In addition, any buyer with the correct password can log on to the sale via the Internet, bid on, and purchase the vehicles. “We envisioned this kind of sale more than a year ago when we planned simulcast sales,” said Mark Davison, Manheim’s national account manager for BMW. “We offer about 100 vehicles from each auction location. Instead of having four, 100-car sales, we’re hosting one, 400-car sale.”

Randy Beil, manager, off lease sales and logistics for BMW Financial Services, said the “factory” cars tend to sell well sight unseen. “These vehicles usually have 8,000 to 10,000 miles and have very little damage.”

Ron Lyon, a buyer for Park Avenue Motor Corp. in Maywood, N.J., said he likes to see vehicle damage for himself. “The condition report indicates that there may be $250 or $500 damage to a vehicle,” he said. “But what they consider $500 in damage, may not be what I would consider $500. Repairs are often more costly on the East Coast than in the Midwest or South.”

Final statistics for the sale bode well for dealer participation and added value for the manufacturer. Dealers participating in the BMW sale were evenly split between those online and those physically present at the Manheim, Pa., auction — 35 each. A total of 373 factory-owned 2003 and 2004 vehicles from across the BMW line were offered. Ninety percent were sold. The online bidders purchased 60 percent — 336 vehicles. Ninety-one percent of the vehicles offered generated at least one Internet bid, said Used Car News.

Joe Luppino, vice president and chief operating officer for Manheim Interactive said Manheim provides detailed information that manufacturers use to determine the success of their sale almost instantaneously.