King customer buys by click

Jun 15, 2023

It’s not just Amazon and other online retailers who put home delivery just a click away, as the same principle even works for cars. Read on to find out what DEKRA has to do with it and what an innovative company, based in Ketzin near Berlin, has achieved.

More than any other company, Autohero epitomizes the rise of new digital marketing strategies in the used car sector. In the wake of coronavirus, customers are increasingly buying online rather than going to their local auto dealer – without even having set their eyes on the vehicle, let alone taken it on a test drive in the time-honored way.
Thanks to an entire fleet of see-through Sprinters, customers are sure to be dazzled on delivery right infront of their house. Autohero offers its customers a 21-day money-back guarantee, allowing them to take the longest test drive of all time; what’s more, a one-year warranty comes as standard. “Inspected and ready to drive” is the firm’s promise.
The lion’s share of the vehicles come from Ketzin in Brandenburg, where the company claims to operate the largest used car processing center in Europe. According to site manager and process expert Lutz Grunwald, up to 35,000 vehicles a year pass through the facility. Spanning 100,000 square meters, it is home to a car wash, a large mechanical workshop, a paint shop, various processing stations, two photo booths – and a dedicated DEKRA inspection center with a set team of inspection engineers.

But first: the main vehicle inspection

Autohero came up with the highly unorthodox idea to start with the main vehicle inspection. The vehicles, which arrive by car transporter, first pass through the on-site car wash before being taken straight to the DEKRA test center. Mirco Brunnert, Head of Vehicle Inspection at the Potsdam branch, is the DEKRA project manager; he explains: “Yes, this is something we discussed at length within the team. Normally, we would do the main inspection at the end of the process. Doing it at the start oft he process, however, helps to keep costs down for the end consumer. As such, Autohero can be sure that all repairs relevant to roadworthiness are subsequently carried out.”The three test stations at the DEKRA facility are always very busy, with an upward trend. All cars that have less than 15 months to run on their badge automatically undergo a new inspection.

Structured processes

Having completed the main DEKRA inspection, the next stop for the vehicles is incoming inspection by Autohero staff. Here, the vehicle’s general condition is documented by app and the checklist; this goes beyond safety-relevant aspects to include things such as scratches or dents in the bodywork and dirt in the interior/trunk. The assessors determine on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the Autohero quality standards what needs to be repaired and what doesn’t. This decision is based on factors such as the vehicle’s mileage, its expected sale price, and its general condition.
“In peak periods, DEKRA also supports Autohero by providing appraisers,” explains Mirco Brunnert during the tour of the large buildings. For site manager Grunwald, the partnership with DEKRA is so valuable “because we stay in close contact and because DEKRA provides us with unbureaucratic support above and beyond the main inspection.” It should therefore come as no surprise that DEKRA handles the inspections associated with the accident prevention regulations.
The checkpoint for incoming vehicles leads straight to a fully equipped repair workshop with more than 20 workstations. If any paintwork needs to be done, the vehicle is taken to the fully equipped paint shop. There are also special workstations for repairing dents. Whatever station the vehicle passes through on its journey, every step is documented in the app. Finally, the car is cleaned throughly inside and out before moving to the brightly lit photo booth, which boasts a 360° turntable to ensure consistent and standardized quality at all times. Once the car has been photographed, the ad is posted on autohero.com.

No unnecessary journeys

Autohero is a subsidiary of the Europe-wide AUTO1 Group, which is also the parent company of “wirkaufendeinauto.de,” which has disrupted the used car market with its promise to make private sales of used cars as straightforward as possible. This is also one of the platforms via which Autohero sources the vehicles that are then processed in Ketzin and at six other sites across Europe, including in Italy, Poland, and Spain. A seventh such site is already planned in the Netherlands. According to its own figures, the company currently sells up to 143,300 vehicles Europe-wide.
Autohero also offers vehicle collection at various locations. Here, you can sell your old used car and drive away with a new one. Process optimization expert Grunwald would no doubt be happy that any unnecessary journeys are eliminated!

“Doing the main inspection at the start helps to keep costs down for the end consumer.”

Mirco Brunnert, Head of vehicle inspections