Web-based used car auctions targeted at consumers are being trialled in the Philadelphia area with a country-wide roll-out planned in three months.

Driveitaway.com is the brainchild of CEO Darryl Draper, said to have made a name for herself as one of the country's most successful female auto fleet managers, and Stacy Ratner, an attorney and award-winning web designer.

Their concept is simple: let local dealers and corporate fleet managers post their inventory of late model vehicles on Driveitaway.com's online auto auction. Consumers can go to the site and preview these vehicles by make, model, location and mileage. They then choose the car they like and bid online.

The auctions run three to seven days from the date the car is posted. During that time, bidders are encouraged to visit participating dealerships for an inspection or a test drive.

"Traditionally, many of these vehicles would be sold at auctions closed to the public," says Darryl Draper. "Dealers would rather have them sold off their lot, but when they can't, the cars go directly to a wholesale auction and the public never has the opportunity to bid on them. We have created an online used car auction that serves both the consumer and the dealer.

“Used cars aren't like CDs. Consumers simply do not want to purchase a used car sight unseen off the Internet. There are too many unknowns, and every used car is unique in terms of wear and tear."

The new venture is claimed to be the first internet site to focus on dealer-to-consumer used car auctions.

The company says consumers can now bid at prices closer to the wholesale auction price, and they gain peace of mind from buying the vehicle from a local, respected dealership.

Additionally, they get the chance to bid directly on prime off-lease vehicles for the first time in automotive history.

For dealers, the Driveitaway.com model is said to be a boon. No longer do they have to shuttle unsold used car inventory out to auctions that sell and resell late model, often just-off-lease vehicles. At the same time, consumers who find their vehicles online still stop in at the dealership to inspect and test-drive the car. This builds foot traffic --one key to a successful auto dealership.

Two of the Philadelphia area's largest dealerships have signed on. Pacifico Dealer Group and Holman Enterprises see the site as a way to streamline the used vehicles sales process while building a used car customer base that increases sales for the dealership.

Pacifico and Holman are adding Internet-enabled kiosks to their showrooms so customers can bid on vehicles from the showroom floor.

Automotive Resources International (ARI), a fleet management company with 40,000 cars coming off lease each year, is another booster of the company.

They plan to supply local off-lease vehicles, housed at local dealer lots and auctioned on Driveitaway.com.

The internet auction company plans to run its pilot program in the Philadelphia area for three months before expanding to key markets nationwide.