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Auto1 Challenges EBay, Scout24 With German Car Classifieds Push

Stefan Nicola

(Bloomberg) -- Auto1 Group GmbH, the German online used-car platform backed by SoftBank Group Corp., is building a classified ad product to grab market share from the likes of EBay Inc. and Scout24 AG.

Auto1 has been buying used cars from private drivers through its popular consumer-facing website Wirkaufendeinauto.de. It’s now beginning to allow car dealerships in Germany to sell vehicles on the platform in return for a fee, co-Chief Executive Officer Christian Bertermann said in an interview.

The goal is to not just dump car listings online but provide added services such as a personalized feed for buyers, the option to set up appointments with car dealerships online, and more data on what customers really want before they walk through the door of a dealership, the executive said.

“The user experience of buying a car should be better,” Bertermann said. “I should be able to buy a car with just a click online.”

The move is part of Auto1’s push to diversify its offerings and find fresh avenues for growth as it seeks to become the dominant internet platform for used automobiles. Auto1, which is active in more than 30 European countries, grew sales by about a third last year to 2.9 billion euros ($3.3 billion) after trading more than 540,000 cars via its sites.

Auto1 still has a long way to go to rival the classifieds market leaders in Germany, EBay’s Mobile.de and Scout24’s Autoscout24. Wirkaufendeinauto.de has more than 3,000 listings, compared to Mobile.de’s 1.5 million and Autoscout24’s 1 million offerings. Auto1 is nevertheless confident it can scale the product, which started last month, because it’s experiencing "strong demand" from dealerships, a spokeswoman said.

SoftBank’s Vision Fund invested 460 million euros in Auto1 earlier last year, valuing the Berlin-based company at about 2.9 billion euros.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stefan Nicola in Berlin at snicola2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Penty at rpenty@bloomberg.net, Molly Schuetz, Jillian Ward

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