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Just like some automakers are slowly moving towards an online-based car shopping process, used car companies are also shifting their businesses in the direction of digital sales. In fact, it turns out online auctions are already beating live auctions, or at least that’s the case with one particular online car bidding platform.

Bring a Trailer, “a digital auction platform and enthusiast community,” reported $828.7 million worth of cars sold on its site in 2021, thus improving its result from 2020 by an impressive 108 percent, up from $398 million in 2020. More importantly, BaT left behind the competition from the digital sector and way behind the closest live auction company.

In the last days of 2021, Mecum, one of the largest live auction houses in the world, reported it sold cars for $578 million last year, while RM Sotheby’s - another major player in the segment - reported $407 million worth of cars sold in 2021. According to Bloomberg, Barrett-Jackson saw $191 million of sales and Gooding & Co. was close behind with $150 million. No numbers are available for Bonhams yet, though it is highly unlikely that the company did better than BaT.

“Big auctions will always have a business. They put on a big show,” BaT President and co-founder, Randy Nonnenberg, told the publication. “But people are finding that we are a highly effective way to [buy and sell cars] if you want to do it in a more personalized, streamlined way.”

Gallery: 1935 Duesenberg Model JN BaT Auction

Data from classic car insurer and data firm Hagerty shows that online auction sales surpassed live auction sales for the first time in 2021. Approximately 20,000 vehicles were sold in digital form in North America last year versus about 16,000 cars sold live. The former number represents a major jump of 107 percent year over year in online sales on the continent. 

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