Certified Pre-Owned

Maserati's new CPO program has 2 years of unlimited-mile warranty

CARY, N.C. - 

Maserati North America has launched a new Officine Maserati Certified Pre-Owned program that includes two years of unlimited-mile warranty coverage.

It also includes a free three-month trial of SiriusXM.

The company made the announcement about the new program, which began last month, on Tuesday.

As part of the certification process, each vehicle undergoes a 120-point inspection.

“Maserati pre-owned vehicles have their entire history thoroughly checked, with all services brought up to date, while being expertly certified to meet factory quality-assurance standards before qualifying for CPO status,” the company said in a news release.

“The Officine Maserati signifies the expertise and capabilities of Maserati Dealers to select, prepare and to exclusively add unlimited-mile coverage to a Certified Pre-Owned Maserati.”

Maserati said the CPO warranties are available at $2,095, and $2,445 for the GranTurismo.

There were 60 Maserati certified pre-owned sales in the U.S. during April, according to Autodata Corp. That beats year-ago figures, when it sold 48 CPO vehicles.

Through four months, Maserati has sold 270 certified vehicles this year, up from 202 in the same period last year.

In March, the company had its best-ever month for CPO sales, moving 79 units, Autodata said.

Maserati began reporting its certified sales to Autodata eight years ago this month.  Autodata said that the automaker moved 205 certified vehicles the following year, which was Maserati’s first full year of sharing CPO results. 

Autotrader names top May CPO deals

ATLANTA - 

Autotrader’s list of the top certified pre-owned deals available this May recognizes BMW, Chevrolet, Volkswagen and Volvo for extending types of deals often reserved for buying new.

“Shopping CPO is ideal for price-conscious car shoppers that do not want to sacrifice quality over a good deal,” Autotrader executive editor Brian Moody said in a news release. “With CPO inspection and warranty coverage, you're likely to get a vehicle that is among the better choices out there.”

BMW's CPO program offers models that are available with a warranty that offers coverage for up to six years or 100,000 miles from the original sale date this month. Shoppers particularly interested in the brand’s 3 Series or 4 Series can get 0.9 percent interest for up to 36 months. Autotrader calls this offer “a new-car deal on a used model.”

Chevrolet is offering qualified shoppers interested in a CPO Chevrolet Cruze, Equinox, Malibu, Silverado or Traverse 1.9-percent interest for up to 36 months through the end of May. This is an exceptional rate for a used vehicle, Autotrader said. 

This month Ford's CPO program boasts up to seven years or 100,000 miles of powertrain protection from the original sale date, as well as an additional year or 12,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage. Qualified buyers will also be offered 2.9-percent interest for up to 66 months on all of its CPO models, according to Autotrader.

Nissan's program is extending “impressive” incentives to qualified shoppers that are available on any model among its CPO fleet through the end of the month. May’s offerings include 1.95-percent interest for up to 36 months or 3.95-percent interest for up to 72 months. Additionally, Nissan is offering up to $500 cash back on its Altima, Maxima, Rogue and Sentra models.

Throughout the month, Land Rover's program will extend bumper-to-bumper coverage for up to seven years or 100,000 miles. Autotrader said the best deal Land Rover has this month is on 2013-2015 Evoque models. The automaker is offering qualified shoppers interested in an Evoque CPO 0.9-percent interest for up to 60 months.

Toyota's CPO program is among Autotrader’s highlights this month. The automaker is offering seven years or 100,000 miles of powertrain protection, along with an extra year of bumper-to-bumper coverage. Additionally, through the end of the month, the Prius is available at 1.9-percent interest for up to 60 months. The deal also extends to the smaller Prius c and larger Prius v.

This month Volkswagen has a special offer aimed at qualified shoppers interested in financing. Throughout May, shoppers can purchase any CPO model with 1.99-percent interest for up to 60 months. Autotrader said this is “a great rate and a long term that you'll typically only find in the world of new vehicles.”

Volvo’s CPO program is offering shoppers bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage for seven years or 100,000 miles from the original sale date, through the end of the month. Autotrader said this is among the longest warranties in the industry. Qualified buyers interested in financing their CPO purchase can also get 0.9 percent interest for up to 24 months. This is a rate rarely offered on used models, according to Autotrader.

For additional details on the CPO programs Autotrader named this month, click here.

Certified used vehicle sales continue moderate growth

WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J.  - 

Certified pre-owned vehicle sales were up modestly in April, as the first third of the year wrapped up slightly ahead of the 2016 pace.

According to Autodata Corp., there were 234,493 CPO sales last month, beating year-ago figures by 0.7 percent. That pushes the year-to-date sum to 881,881 sales, a 0.3-percent increase.

This follows a particularly strong March, a month where Autodata determined the industry turned the second-highest amount of CPO units ever and four automakers posted new all-time highs for monthly CPO sales. 

As for April, European brands were up 3.6 percent with 38,771 certified sales, the firm said. Asian brands were up 0.2 percent with 113,052 sales and the Big 3 was down 0.1 percent with 82,670 CPO sales. 

For the year, however, European brands have increased sales 5.5 percent with 148,463 units moved, the firm's data indicated.

 Asian brands are up 3.6 percent with 433,002 CPO sales.

Certified sales for domestics are down 6.3 percent at 300,416 units sold. 

Staff writer Nick Zulovich contributed to this report. 

Christman on CPO: It’s your reputation — manage it!

ATLANTA - 

For well over a decade, I have worked with, led and trained some of the best sales professionals in the world. They all, without exception, share a single common trait. 

Somehow they know more about their customers’ business and what their customers are trying to accomplish than customers do.  The reason for this is simple: Most successful salespeople are such students of their customers that they are able to take their experience with one and build on it with the next.

At the same time, I’ve seen some successful dealers teach these principles on the floor while ignoring them when it comes to modern technology tools. Today, we’ll speak specifically about the role of social media and reputation management when it comes to your certified pre-owned sales and your new- and used-car sales.

I recently had a bad experience with a local dealership in their service department. This is a dealer that I have been working with for almost 15 years, one where I have purchased several vehicles and have been a regular user of their service department for the past 10 years. 

The issue was that they recently began charging a diagnostic fee that is not absorbed into the job when you agree to have them do the work. Their door rate is already the highest in town, and I’ve never questioned this part until there was an un-communicated additional charge. I questioned the charge and poor communication with the service writer, who stood firm. 

The service director was out and the GM unavailable, so I paid and went away unhappy.

Bothered all weekend by this experience, I wrote an email to the GM on Monday morning. He didn’t respond. Two days later, I went onto their Facebook page and wrote a negative review. 

Still no one at the dealership responded. I wrote another negative review on another social media site; still no response. 

I then went to a major third-party site and wrote another negative review. Then sent a note to the zone manager. That finally got their attention and a call back from the GM; now five days later!

Things were resolved fairly and to my satisfaction. An hour later, the third negative review I posted was emailed to the Internet manager and the GM called me about changing the review (which I agreed to do).

The point? Simple. Just as you are putting your best foot forward when a customer walks onto your showroom floor, you and your dealership must also manage your brand and reputation on social media. When it comes to CPO, consumers are buying from you because they trust that you are doing the extra work in inspecting the vehicle, reconditioning it to make it like new and taking the extra step to put an extended warranty.

This trust can be shattered with the reading of a negative review about any part of your dealership on social media.

While I was waiting days for a call back from the general manager, I began reading reviews on DealerRater, Facebook, Google Reviews, Edmunds, Consumer Reports, Yelp and even the Better Business Bureau on this dealer and then others around the country, and it astounded me on how many negative reviews there were without responses or offsetting positive reviews!

To millennials: reputation matters! To Gen Xers: reputation matters! And to baby boomers: reputation matters! Or should I just say: to buyers, reputation matters!

Millennials are the first generation to grow up in the digital age. Gen Xers learned about touchscreens as tweens; even the oldest millennials were surfing the Internet after school; and later, while still in school. This is their home. They’ve posted their share of embarrassing content, of course, but this only makes the consequences of online reputation more real to them. When you’ve witnessed firsthand the damage that an ill-advised tweet or regrettable photo can do, the need for managing online reputation is obvious.

A more broad study conducted by Google Consumer Surveys, shows that online reviews impact 67.7 percent of respondents' purchasing decisions. More than half of the respondents (54.7 percent) admitted that online reviews are fairly, very or absolutely an important part of their decision-making process.

The research also uncovered that businesses risk losing almost one-fourth of customers when just one negative article is found by users considering buying their product. If three negative articles pop up in a search query, the potential for lost customers increases to 59.2 percent. Have four or more negative articles about your dealership appearing in Google search results? You’re likely to lose 70 percent of potential customers.

Online reviews have a significant influence on the decision-making process of consumers. They can destroy trust in your customer.

For the past year, I’ve been showing you and telling you that today’s consumers buy CPO for three reasons: trust, safety and security. 

I’ve focused on the negatives in this article thus far, since negative reviews are being posted daily about dealers all over the country and adversely impacting trust, safety and security of the buying decision.

At the same time, your brand reputation can be managed and used as a selling tool to draw more customers into your showroom and to close more sales.

How? Here are four easy habits. They will take time and will work, when worked.

  1. Monitor and analyze your dealership’s reviews on popular review sites like Google+, Dealer Rater, your own Facebook page and Twitter. Other sites, like Yelp, Cars.com or Edmunds, should also be checked often, as they can quickly climb Google search results. Don’t attempt to artificially alter the results, but instead look for best practices on how to improve Yelp reviews or other review sites and implement them. The goal is to naturally improve the general buzz around your business.
     
  2. If negative articles exist, there are solutions for improvement. Work with your SEM/SEO provider and create positive press and reviews about the dealership through SEO and online reputation management efforts. By gaining control of the search results for your company or product, you will be in control of the main message that individuals see when looking for more information about your dealership.

    That's done by working to ensure prospects and customers enjoy a satisfying experience when interacting with your brand (product AND people), whether online or offline.
     

  3. Respond quickly to any negative review by being transparent and actively listening to what the customer’s complaints are — whether they are right or wrong — and then responding to their needs.
     
  4. Ask happy customers in sales and service to write a positive review from their device before leaving the dealership.  Make it easy for them to want to brag about the great decision they made in buying from you!

Eric Hippen, general manager of Kemna Auto of Fort Dodge told me that he has instituted a policy that salespeople are to ask every customer to write a review as they are taking delivery. The results? They hold a FIVE-star rating on Google Reviews and Dylan, a salesperson at the dealership, has customers walking in regularly and asking for him by name because of the reviews they read about him and the dealership. 

Eric also told me that reputation management is so important to their sales, that he personally oversees this area of the business.

The myth about managing high producing sales talent is that they don’t need management. Superstar salespeople want someone to watch them in action. As their boss, it can be one of the best days you’ll ever spend in the field. Similarly, millennials want someone to watch them too; those are their social media followers who read their reviews. Give them every reason to make it their best day to brag about you!

 

Rob Christman is a 15-year veteran of the auto industry and has worked for top brands such as Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book in both corporate product development and field sales positions. Rob has presented at many industry conferences, most recently at the 2016 Used Car Week's CPO Forum.

 

Kia posts best-ever Q1 CPO sales

IRVINE, Calif. - 

Kia Motors America's certified pre-owned vehicle sales program achieved a record-high first quarter, having sold a total of 19,453 units.

Along with several other automakers, last year was also a best-ever CPO year for Kia, selling a total of 76,224 units in 2016.

"Kia's sales boost is reflective of the confidence that comes with buying a vehicle that has passed a rigorous inspection and helps consumers establish a long-term relationship with the brand," the Seoul-based automaker said in a news release.

According to Autodata’s March CPO retail sales report, Kia continues to outdo the industry with an overall notable 17.3 percent increase year-over-year for Q1.  

In an Auto Remarketing report from January,  Maria Williams, Kia's senior CPO retail support manager, said Kia's certified sales have climbed each year since the automaker partnered with JM&A Group to help build its certified pre-owned program.

Kia’s program administered by JM&A Group only accepts vehicles up to five years in age with fewer than 60,000 miles on the odometer and every vehicle undergoes a 150-point Quality Assurance inspection by certified Kia technicians.

According to Williams, the program with JM&A Group was launched in 2008, and is targeting another growth year in 2017.

Additionally, Kia's CPOs also come with a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty as well as 12-month/12,000 mile-Platinum Coverage, according to KMA.

"Certified pre-pwned vehicle programs tap into the best attributes from both the new and used worlds," Edmunds executive director of industry analysis Jessica Caldwell said in a news release. "For consumers who might be uneasy about buying used, CPO vehicles offer lower prices than a new car coupled with a warranty that provides peace of mind about wear and tear."

Luxury shoppers drive uptick in used-car interest for Q1

CARY, N.C. - 

Jumpstart Automotive Media discovered a 6-percent uptick in shopping for used cars across its portfolio of sites during the first quarter, which it attributes to a rise in shoppers looking for used luxury vehicles, in particular.

Used luxury shopping is up 11 percent year-over-year, while down 3 percent for new, according to Jumpstart’s latest quarterly report, titled Share of Shopper Interest Highlights.

Similarly, among non-luxury brands, shopping is up 4 percent for used cars and down 2 percent for new.

“This is one of the shifts we have expected to see as new cars sort of flatten from a retail and sales standpoint and also as the supply becomes greater on the used side,” Jumpstart marketing and strategic insights vice president Libby Murad-Patel said in a phone interview with Auto Remarketing.

“Between sales and from our audience standpoint, luxury is driving a lot of this activity.”

She said from a sales standpoint, a lot of the luxury brands are holding very strong right now.

According to Murad-Patel, the used market is growing because those shoppers interested in the technology of new vehicles and shoppers who want to try luxury for the first time often seek out used models.

“Why it particularly effects the used market is because used prices are starting to soften a little bit, and it’s a great way for someone to enter the luxury space for the first time,” Murad-Patel said. 

“We definitely see that on the certified side or near-new vehicles in the 1- to 3-year-old age range, that is typically a nice entry point for a consumer who maybe doesn’t typically buy luxury, but wants test out those brands because you get such a good price discount. You’re getting a good product with low mileage, newer technology and high-end features,” she said.

Interestingly, Patel said the brands that are starting to see more interest from shoppers aren’t the biggest brands, such as Audi, Mercedes, and BMW, but some of the smaller luxury brands like Jaguar, Land Rover and Tesla.

“Certainly Tesla’s been in the news a ton, so they're seeing a lot of growth as well,” she added.

Additionally, Jumpstart’s latest quarterly report features the vehicle segments, makes, and models that captured the largest share of online auto shoppers during Q1.

The data reported represents the percentage share of online shoppers across Jumpstart’s portfolio that consists of more than 25 million in-market auto shoppers researching vehicles.

Group 1's Rickel talks trucks, residuals & more

CARY, N.C. - 

Consumers' increased interest in both trucks and SUV’s over sedans is a shift the industry will have to wrestle with even more this year, says John Rickel, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Group 1 Automotive.

“The overall industry, if you go back two years ago, had a 50/50 split between cars and trucks. Last year it got to 60/40 and this year could be 65/35 — that is a massive, massive shift in consumer preference,” Rickel said during  Group 1’s presentation at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2017 Auto Summit in New York last week, a webcast of which  Auto Remarketing viewed.

“Trucks and SUV’s are continuing to go from strength to strength. There’s a lot of customer demand there.”

He points to lower and affordable gas prices as the primary driver of the shift.

“If you can have the optionality of a bigger package — basically what a truck or SUV offers of you — most consumers are opting for that and the industry is struggling to catch up with that switch,” he said.

Used-car sourcing

During the presentation, Rickel said his group’s top source for used-cars are customers’ trade-ins.

“When we’re under pressure on the new vehicle sales, we’re not selling as many units — we’re not getting as many trades, and we have to go out to auction to supplement,” he said.

One downside,  Rickel said, is that going to the auction to buy inventory can be more costly over time, after factoring in all of the added expenditures dealers incur.

“You’re going to pay a little bit more, you’re bidding against other dealers, you pay an auction fee and you’ve got transportation costs,” he said.

Residual trends in segments 

In regards to sedans, within the used-car market in particular, there’s currently some pressure on residuals, according to Rickel.

“A lot of leases were written three years ago and that’s were a lot of volume is coming back,” he said. “We’re seeing a number of our OEM partners that have had to warn on residuals. You’re seeing them pull back somewhat on leasing.”

Rickel said he isn’t too strained about the residual values of trucks and SUVs.

Compared to sedans, trucks have a longer life and a number of consumers of have second order uses for them, he said.

In his 30 years of experience and the lease cycle he has seen, it has been rare that “you get a big, big falloff in truck residuals, so I’m less concerned about that,” Rickel said.

Specifically, if the rebound of the housing industry continues, he said it’s likely that construction workers use of trucks will increasingly secure their current standing in the market.

Rickel also added that if an infrastructure program comes from the Trump administration, it will presumably solidify truck sales as well.

Autotrader names top April CPO deals

ATLANTA - 

Autotrader’s list of the top certified pre-owned deals available this April names luxury brands only; the car shopping site’s picks for the month suggests that it is an ideal time for those interested in a CPO luxury vehicle to shop.

"Saving money is key for car shoppers and buying a CPO vehicle ensures you're not burdening yourself with any major system issues or major defects," Autotrader executive editor Brian Moody said in a news release. "If buying a used car leaves you anxious, consider buying a certified pre-owned vehicle, which includes a manufacturer-backed warranty for additional peace of mind."

The follwing is Autotrader editors'  list of top CPO program deals offered this month.

Acura

This April, Acura offers powertrain coverage for up to seven years or 100,000 miles from the original sale date as well as an added year of bumper-to-bumper protection. Autotrader said qualified shoppers interested in the brand’s MDX specifically can get a great deal on the model as well as buy CPO versions of the crossover with interest as low as 1.9 percent for up to 36 months.

Audi

Audi's CPO program is offering qualified buyers up to $1,000 cash back on select A8  models through the end of the month. The brand is also throwing in comprehensive coverage for up to six years or 100,000 miles from a vehicle's original sale date.

BMW

BMW currently offers shoppers up to six years or 100,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage for most of its CPO vehicles. The BMW i3 is a plug-in electric car or hybrid is among them. “The best deal is for qualified shoppers looking to finance a certified pre-owned i3, as BMW is touting 0.9 percent interest for up to 36 months — an unusually low rate for the automaker,” Autotrader said.

Cadillac

This month, Cadillac offers terms such as a comprehensive, bumper-to-bumper warranty, which cover vehicles for up to six years or 100,000 miles from the original sale date. The brand is also offering qualified buyers 2.9-percent interest for up to 60 months on all SRX models. Autotrader said this is “a great deal for any used vehicle, and especially one with a long, manufacturer-backed warranty.”

Jaguar

Jaguar shoppers can obtain bumper-to-bumper coverage for seven years or 100,000 miles from the original sale date. This month, Jaguar is also offering its qualified customers 0.9-percent interest on all XF models for up to 24 months or and up to 60 months for CPO buyers who chose a 2014 or 2015 XF.

“Spring is finally upon us, and so are some great deals from leading auto manufacturers,” Autotrader said. “For car buyers, this is a good time to start searching for great prices on gently used, budget-friendly vehicles.”

Click here for additional information on the April CPO deals selected by Autotrader editors.

4 brands set CPO sales record to keep pace with off-lease volume

CARY, N.C.  - 

Four automakers posted new all-time highs for monthly certified pre-owned sales in March; a month where Autodata Corp. determined the industry turned the second-highest amount of CPO units ever.

And perhaps the industry will need other OEMs to join that performance level in order to keep up with the volume of off-lease vehicles hitting the wholesale market.

Autodata reported that four automakers — Fiat Chrysler, Kia, Maserati and Nissan — closed the first quarter with their highest CPO sales total ever for a single month. The firm indicated Fiat Chrysler turned 23,266 certified units as Nissan moved 18,509 CPO models. Kia recorded 7,513 certified sales as Maserati turned 79 CPO models.

In fact, Autodata mentioned to Auto Remarketing that Fiat Chrysler’s CPO sales total compiled during the first quarter also set an all-time high for the OEM, as its franchised dealers retailed 58,398 units.

All told, Autodata reported that dealers retailed 243,277 CPO units in March, off by just 0.3 percent year-over-year when the all-time sales record was established. That’s when the industry delivered 243,944 certified models.

The March figure also soared past the CPO sales total recorded during the previous month by 15 percent.

For the quarter, Autodata indicated the CPO sales figure came in at 647,373 units, edging 0.1 percent higher compared to the first quarter of last year. The amount also was 0.8 percent higher than the fourth quarter of 2016.

Analysts pointed out that there were 27 selling days in March of this year and last year as compared to just 24 in February of this year. The March sales figure computed into a daily selling rate was 9,010, according to Autodata.

Looking deeper at the March data on a year–over-year basis, analysts noticed that domestic brand share fell 1.8 percentage points to 35.4 percent, as European share increased 1.2 points to 16.3 percent. Autodata added the Asian share edged up 0.7 points to 48.3 percent.

No matter which brand has share, Edmunds senior analyst Ivan Drury explained to Auto Remarketing that it appears OEMs and their dealers are going to have to keep this record or near-record setting pace in order to keep off-lease units from sitting in inventory for too long.

“While we've seen a consistent rise in off-lease each year, it appears that CPO sales are not trending as closely with off-lease as once predicted,” Drury said. “This could be an indicator that we’ve begun to saturate the market. 

“CPO, on an overall level, is utilized as a way to distinguish and show differentiation from the rest of the used market, but as we have waves of relatively new vehicles of similar trim levels and mileage, it could be less of a selling point and just seen as added cost when there are so many comparables,” he continued.

Kelley Blue Book managing editor Matt DeLorenzo also looked cautiously at the relationship between off-lease wholesale volume and CPO retail trends.

“The glut of off-lease vehicles needs to be managed carefully because these are the units that provide most of the CPO inventory, thanks to annual mileage caps that make these vehicles more desirable and easier to warranty than high-mileage units,” DeLorenzo said. “These CPO units really don’t prime new-vehicle sales other than being able to flip the current lessee into a new vehicle. That used unit as a CPO becomes an entry-level vehicle to a buyer who may not be able to afford a new model of a particular brand.

“If incentives become so heavy that those buyers are able to actually afford a new vehicle, then yes, there will be an impact,” he continued. “However, manufacturers have the opportunity to manage their off-lease volume by storing cars (that’s already happening) to keep inventories down and prices and margins up. Dealers are more than happy on this count because their margins are usually greater on CPO than new vehicles.”

And as DeLorenzo mentioned, the incentive moves automakers are using to turn new models could leave a rippling impact over to the used department trying to retail CPO units.

“There is no question that huge rebates will have an effect on the used-car market, and CPO vehicles will not be immune to those pressures,” DeLorenzo said. “That said, there’s more to the CPO proposition than just price. Some rebates may be on only the entry-level versions of a particular model or may be offered regionally. A buyer may still opt for a better equipped CPO car that could come in at or just under the price of an all-new car with less equipment. And that’s not to say that makers will be looking to re-lease their CPO cars at attractive rates (this is a small slice of the market, but it could grow) or offer other non-cash incentives and spiffs like extended warranties and subsidized financing to make the CPO deal compelling.

“Still, we are likely to see prices trending downward on both CPO and non-CPO vehicles over the next year as some 3.1 million vehicles are expected to return to the market off-lease,” he continued. “However, overall CPO volumes may remain fairly stable because as a marketing tool these programs are expanding, so the growth in CPO with manufacturers offering or expanding their programs will probably mitigate against a dramatic drop-off in CPO activity.”

Drury also touched on how consumers are weighing the option of purchasing a CPO unit versus a new model, especially one that might have a substantial amount of cash on the hood.

“Consumers who shop both new and used/CPO vehicles are research-intense and tend to spend much greater amounts of time gathering information and searching inventory than those who strictly shop new or used,” Drury said. “Some of this stems from simply having more options, but for a consumer looking to get the best bang for their buck comparing used, CPO and new is vital.

“That said, each consumer also has a number in their head at which point the price premium for a new vehicle over a used/CPO is justified,” Drury went on to say. “Factoring in incentives does add a bit of complexity, but for vehicles with steep new-car discounts there is a much greater chance at hindering the ability to sell a CPO unit or even a standard late model used vehicle.”

Pressure building on ‘fair gap’ between new & used retail prices

CARY, N.C. - 

There remains a “fair gap” and “a good amount of play between” the typical retail price between a new vehicle and a used or even a certified pre-owned model.

However, Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Alec Gutierrez is seeing trends that are putting pressure on his current assertions.

Gutierrez mentioned during a call with the media earlier this week that the average incentive figure is above $3,500 per unit. ALG pinpointed incentive spending at $3,511 percent unit in March, climbing by $415 from a year earlier.

So the difference between similar models that are new versus nearly-new, CPO or whatever moniker a dealership salesperson might use is “tightening every day with incentives and dealer discounts,” Gutierrez said.

“I would expect to this trend continue,” he continued. “Used cars are going to come back in greater and greater volumes. Manufacturers are going to have to decide if they’re going to keep using incentives on the new-car side to maintain some form of competitiveness.

“Certainly if interest rates rise, that will shake things up even further,” Gutierrez went on to say.

And speaking of those interest rates, Edmunds mentioned that its analysis showed the average APR on installment contracts for new-vehicle deliveries in March reached 5.02 percent — the highest reading in seven years. This figure is up from 4.87 percent in February and 4.80 percent in March of 2016.

Edmunds executive director of industry analysis Jessica Caldwell pointed out the last time interest rates for new-model sales crossed the 5-percent mark was in February 2010.

“With high incentives, record inventories and interest rates at the highest we've seen in seven years, we're seeing a lot of signs right now that the tide is turning for the auto industry,” Caldwell said. “The training wheels that were put in place during the recession are coming off, and the industry is now being challenged to see if it can find the right balance on its own.

“While we’re not facing uncharted territory from a historical perspective, it will be interesting to see how the busy spring selling season unfolds as we navigate toward a more a normal pattern,” she added in analysis delivered to Auto Remarketing.

And, of course, the more levers automakers pull to keep new vehicles from piling up in inventory more than they already are, the more the potential impact on the used-vehicle market. The American International Automobile Dealers Association reported that average length of time a new model sat on a dealer’s lot hit 70 days in March — the longest stretch of time since July 2009.

“The industry’s performance in March suggests that sales may be plateauing,” AIADA president Cody Lusk said in a news release. “Now is the time for dealers to tighten their operations.”

ALG chief economist Oliver Strauss added in another news release, “Hefty incentives have negative impacts to resale values, and that can be even more potent in combination with a heavier mix of leasing being used across both the mainstream and luxury segments.”

During the media conference call, Autotrader senior analyst Michelle Krebs alluded to the segment of the retail equation likely to be most benefitting from the jostling between the new- and used-vehicle arenas — potential buyers.

“That adds another layer of complexity. Do you buy the new car or the nearly new car? There’s incentives being offered on some of the certified pre-owned vehicles. It’s going to take some really close shopping to get the best deal, and there are great deals and improving deals out there,” Krebs said.