We uncover the little-known journey 250,000 vehicles take each year…

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“Adrian Kelly”

The world of automotive retail moves at unprecedented speed. With digitalisation creating more channels through which to sell a car than ever, demand for new and used vehicles is at an all-time high. As a result, filling forecourts has never been more important, particularly considering the much-publicised supply issues that the sector faces today.

But where does this supply of vehicles come from before they reach the wholesale market? Who ensures the vehicles are ready and prepped for sale? Who processes the sea of paperwork associated with such a task? Manheim Vehicle Services (MVS), that’s who! Every year, we escort more than a quarter of a million vehicles throughout the defleet process, preparing cars, vans, trucks, and event plant machinery for resale at a scale that few businesses in Europe can achieve.

What is Manheim Vehicle Services?

At Manheim Vehicle Services, we provide the physical operations required by manufacturers, fleets and dealers for the operation of scalable and intelligent retail, in-life and defleet programmes. With six sites across the UK, we have the capability to undertake mass defleeting for hundreds of thousands of vehicles every year, offering manufacturers an efficient disposal route and helping dealers and leasing companies obtain and circulate high-quality stock.

The jewel in the crown of MVS is undoubtedly our Bruntingthorpe site, which came into the ownership of Cox Automotive following the acquisition of C Walton Ltd (CWL) back in March 2020. Over one year on, this has catapulted the scale of MVS beyond all expectations. Each week, across our six sites, we handle more than 5,000 vehicle arrivals, undertake 4,500 inspections, perform 270 MOTs, paint 3,000 panels, refurbish 1,000 alloys, make 1,600 deliveries, complete 10,000 valets and take 22,500 sale images – impressive stats by any standard.

What happens to a vehicle in the care of MVS?

At MVS, we specialise in three core areas: new vehicle preparation, in-life services, and defleeting. Let’s take new vehicle preparation as our first scenario.

New vehicle preparation

Let’s assume a major automotive OEM has new vehicles ready to reach the open market. All these vehicles must be prepared for sale. As a fleet of new vehicles arrives at one of our six vehicle services sites, we install RFID tags, inspect each vehicle for transport damage, and book them into the site. Then we hand the vehicle over to our specialist team for the pre-delivery inspection process (PDI). This includes a general condition inspection, removal of any transport mode, plate fitment, installation of any dealer fitted accessories, valet, vehicle registration, warranty and finally, handover or transportation.

In-life services

In-life vehicle services are critical for many OEMs when it comes to providing high-quality demonstration and event vehicles for their stakeholders. As each of these vehicles is a true representation of the vehicle marque, they must be given a premium level of care and preparation. At MVS, we work with OEMs to handle their demonstration and event fleets, as well as providing company car fleet administration, handovers for customers, carrying out critical safety checks and in-life repairs, and collecting and sharing important fleet utilisation statistics.

Defleeting services

Defleeting is perhaps one of the most important tasks MVS undertakes. It is critical not only for preparing end-of-contract vehicles for auction, but for other areas of omnichannel retail too. Perhaps the most effective way to envisage the scale of what we do is to imagine a conglomeration of tens of bodyshops, car wash facilities, MOT stations, technicians, and inspectors all in one place – this is what we have across our six facilities, in operation every day.

When an end-of contract vehicle reaches MVS, it is quickly RFID tagged, a transport damage inspection report is carried out, and the vehicle is booked into our site. Next, the vehicle undergoes a comprehensive appraisal process which may cover Vehicle Collection Report (VCR) comparison, dual standard inspections, tyre checks, mileage verification and a ramped underbody check. Images will be taken of all inspection lines and transmitted to our bespoke web portal, using our custom built application. The vehicle will then move on to refurbishment, where our specialist technicians carry out MOTs, servicing, bodyshop repairs, SMART repairs and complete all necessary warranty, mechanical and multi-point checks. The final stage is valeting and imaging, using our custom-built facilities to fully prepare a vehicle for resale.

What is the future of MVS?

When you consider the sheer scale and accuracy of the work we do, it is easy to get excited about the role of vehicle services in the world of future mobility. Regardless of how vehicle retailing and ownership may evolve over time, every vehicle will still require some degree of in-life services and defleeting if they are to continue to run effectively and safely. Furthermore, MVS also offers secure vehicle storage across our sites, which can prove valuable for fleets that may have vehicles out of use for whatever purpose. The unique scale of MVS, together with the modern technology we use at each of our sites, puts us in an exciting position to drive the future of mobility services.

Before you go….

Now you understand MVS in a little more detail, here are five surprising facts you probably didn’t know about us:

  • Our team is highly trained to keep to the exacting inspection standards of every individual automotive OEM
  • We use cutting edge technology at each site, such as our automatic tyre readers, which calculate tread depth through a vehicle simply driving over it We recycle all our car wash water
  • We recycle all our car wash water
  • Our Bruntingthorpe site has its own dedicated custom-built image studio, capable of conducting 360-degree internal and external camera spins
  • Our Bruntingthorpe site is the only vehicle services location in the UK to have its very own electric vehicle charging network
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