AutoTrader: CPO Consideration Climbs Among New-Car Shoppers, Leads to Sales Growth

ATLANTA - 

Prompted by a tough economy, consideration for certified pre-owned vehicles among new-car shoppers has widened, according to AutoTrader.com, which said this growth has helped drive record sales in the CPO market.

Specifically, 60 percent of new-vehicle shoppers claim their willingness to consider CPO vehicles has gone up because of the economy, according to  end-of-2011 research from AutoTrader and the Morpace organization.

What’s more, half of those shoppers considering a CPO ride said they hadn’t considered buying certified before.

When asked why they would put a CPO ride on their consideration list, most new-car shoppers cited the warranty benefits. Specifically, more than two-thirds (68 percent) said they enjoyed added peace-of-mind from certification/warranty. More than half (52 percent) pointed to the CPO warranty being stronger than what would be offered on a non-CPO used ride.

This reflects some of what Auto Remarketing discovered when it asked CPO program managers what element of certified carries the most weight with consumers.For instance, Ford CPO brand manager Renee Godfrey emphasized the importance of the warranty within her brand’s certified program.

“One of the biggest benefits of our Ford certified pre-owned program is peace of mind for our customer,” she said in a recent Auto Remarketing story on CPO sales. “These vehicles have been inspected and are backed by Ford Motor Co. with a 12-month/12,000 comprehensive warranty and seven-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.”

“It removes the worry for the customer of out of pocket expenses for costly repairs,” she added.

Although there is certainly a premium attached to that added peace-of-mind, it doesn’t appear that shoppers would shy away from paying it, AutoTrader noted.

In fact, the research showed that most new-vehicle shoppers (67 percent) would take he extra cost to get a certified ride. They were willing to pay an extra $1,380, on average.

“Time and again, our research has shown that economic conditions over the last few years have caused numerous shifts in consumer shopping behavior—from when they plan to purchase to the types of vehicles they are considering,” stated Rick Wainschel, vice president of automotive insights at AutoTrader.com.

“In many ways, CPO vehicles present a balanced set of benefits for car shoppers, offering a lower price point than a new car but with a better warranty and more peace of mind than a used car,” he continued.

And as consideration has increased, so have sales.

According to Autodata Corp. statistics, CPO sales came in at a best-ever 174,471 units in March. This was the first time the market has ever eclipsed 170,000 certified sales.

Autodata also indicated that 10 brands posted best-ever CPO sales records in March.

But what specific certified models were most popular?

According to AutoTrader, the one that generated the most views on its website last month was the BMW 3-Series, followed by the Honda Accord. The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 was third, making March’s top three spots the same as February’s.

Meanwhile, the Honda Civic was fourth, and the Ford F-150 came in at No. 5.

Toyota was the most-represented brand on the top 10 list, grabbing three spots.

The complete top 10 of most-viewed CPO models on AutoTrader.com during March is as follows:

1. BMW 3 Series
2. Honda Accord
3. Chevrolet Silverado 1500
4. Honda Civic
5. Ford F-150
6. Volkswagen Jetta
7. Toyota Tacoma
8. Audi A4
9. Toyota Camry
10. Toyota Tundra

Looking at the movements in the top 10 in more detail, AutoTrader emphasized that traffic for the Civic and Jetta showed “notable jumps” month-over-month. The Civic Climbed from No. 8 to its fourth-place ranking, while the Jetta climbed from No. 9 to No. 6.

Looking at the trucks on the list, the Silverado 1500 and Tundra retained their February spots, but the F-150 slid from No. 4 to No. 5 and the Tacoma dropped from No. 6 to No. 7.

"High gas prices are certainly having an effect on the vehicles shoppers are considering, as we're seeing more fuel-efficient vehicles gaining ground in consumer interest. However, it's important to note that while interest in trucks is declining slightly, the decrease is not yet as dramatic as one would expect," Wainschel continued.
 

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