Automotive remarketer Alteso is pitching a new way to conduct wholesale auctions. Right now, only dealers or their designated agents can attend most wholesale auctions in the US. The system Alteso is floating would give customers a view of what cars are available, then they could ask the dealer to purchase it for them. The customer would then turn around and buy the car from the dealer. The entire process would go through a dealer channel, in fact, with the inventory of wholesale units viewed at a dealer portal.

Alteso says this would put the retail exchange ahead of the wholesale transaction, but we're not sure about that, since the customer isn't allowed to know what the wholesale price is. If the end purchaser doesn't know the wholesale price, then it looks to us like there's still no way to know if you're saving money, or if you're saving more than you would by going to a brick-and-mortar dealership and getting to touch what you're about to buy. But dealers are the remarketing company's clients, so that's where we have to look for benefits, and the upside for dealers would be that they could avoid filling their lots with cars that sit around waiting for customers.

Alteso admits that this is trial-balloon talk right now and there is much to sort out before anything of its kind could happen, even for its target audience. The technology needs sorting, as well as pricing, and certain state regulations could prohibit dealers from selling vehicles they aren't in possession of. Still, if sorted out, the process could get you closer to the day when you can wield a bit of dealer power and attend and bid at wholesale auctions – at least by proxy.


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