Technology has provided a fulcrum for growth during the last five years as the IARA has fully set up a management software program.
In fact, the system is appropriately called MemberLeap, which could sum up the technological progress of the IARA since it was installed four years ago. The alliance now enjoys more efficiency and connectivity than at any other time in its 20-year history.
That has freed up committee time and bandwidth to devote to: electric vehicle standards, which involve discussions with OEMs, auctions, consignors, and third parties; accessing software tools for increased collaboration among members, such as VIMEO for content sharing; and acting as a sounding board for staff on technical issues and challenges.
Finding the Right Tools
Technology Committee Co-Chair Venkat Krishnamoorthy, CEO/president of AASC, and members worked closely with executive director Tony Long to find the right system that allowed the IARA leaders and members to collaborate internally. Their conversations and evaluations of different systems resulted in them choosing MemberLeap.
The committee then worked with Long to adopt the product offerings within the software and adapt them to IARA needs.
“The Technology Committee was instrumental in helping Tony and the IARA with narrowing down what software to use for management and led to the opening of a new job position,” Krishnamoorthy said. “The technology allowed for audience members to do job postings and helped Tony curate content he could put in front of an audience.”
With a reliable system in place, the next step was hiring a systems and communications coordinator, who at first was Sharon Sutton and then Kim Hunt, who took on the position in March 2020.
“Sharon joined us and helped the organization in a part-time capacity,” Krishnamoorthy said. “The position makes sure anything the IARA is doing is well tended and the information is distributed in a conscientious manner.”
Further use of the system led to email distribution to the member network, job postings, committee specific pages, and survey tools.
“The committee started out with an inward focus on the MemberLeap platform and then changed to seeing what the technology could do for the various committees,” Krishnamoorthy said. Once that was done, the Technology Committee grew to six members, including consignors and third-party providers. In addition to Krishnamoorthy, the committee now includes John Sullivan, vice president of remarketing solutions and auction operations at GM Financial, John Mathiowetz, vice president of commercial sales at IAA, Arsenio Murphy, client advocate and marketing specialist at AutoIMS, Brian Husman, director of innovation at RPM, and Jeremy Louisos, senior vice president at Preowned Auto Logistics.
The committee went through a hiatus in 2020 because of COVID-related disruptions, but in 2021 the committee surged back and now runs on all cylinders, Krishnamoorthy said. They are exploring adoption of collaborative software tools, such as Vimeo video creation, and starting the effort to develop assessment and processing standards for used electric vehicles, which in the next few years will be headed to auctions in larger numbers as the first wave of new EVs cycle out of fleets.
“The electric vehicle is heavy by nature because of the battery,” Krishnamoorthy said. That could limit the number that can be put on a transporter carrier because of weight restrictions. Furthermore, with the advent of digital auction marketplaces, auctions are getting buyers from longer distances, which requires more transportation. Logistics will be a vital part of the conversation about developing EV standards, he added.
“What does that mean for carriers and drivers? That’s something we need to solve. It is neat to see IARA pick up the ball on the EV adoption related issues and engage our expanded remarketing membership to come up with meaningful remarketing standards for EVs.”
Electric Vehicle Points
At a recent technology committee meeting during the 2021 IARA Summer Roundtable in San Antonio, Texas, a group discussion led by Krishnamoorthy and John Mathiowetz brought forth the following points and questions to pursue:
How do auctions announce electric vehicles, gauge battery life, and assess wear and tear?
EVs can last longer because of fewer parts. Some major components can hold up for hundreds of thousands of miles.
Not all cars have the same capacity and quality of batteries. How do you then ask the right questions about battery capacity?
What are the most relevant ratings and metrics to determine battery value — range, mileage, power, components, remaining capacity?
Do batteries outlast vehicles? Could the battery be removed from the vehicle frame/body and each sold separately?
So far, OEMs do not offer common benchmarks that can be applied to condition reports. No arbitration policies exist for EVs. So what information would be considered acceptable to greenlight a car?
How will large auctions and independents differ in their approaches to EV valuations, and how can those be reconciled?
The IARA should ask to join and participate in OEM committees that will be choosing approaches and standards to create a viable used vehicle market for EVs.
Note: This article appeared in the IARA 20th Anniversary Commemorative Issue published in November 2021.