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TORRANCE, Calif. — Yearly certified pre-owned sales in 2009 were down almost 10 percent from 2008 — a year that saw several brands break full-year records as the industry's certified sales climbed 1 percent — but it wasn't all doom and gloom in the CPO market during the final month of the year.

Despite the overall softening, some automakers were able to carry the momentum from the previous year and post strong gains in the CPO segment.

Specifically, full-year 2009 CPO sales were approximately 1.53 million, down 9.8 percent from the prior year, according to statistics from Autodata Corp.

Automakers closed the year by selling 120,682 certified units in December, a 17.9-percent decline from the same period of 2008.

That said, Asian brands, in particular, finished 2009 on a strong note, as their combined December sales were up 8.7 percent.

Lexus, for instance, hit a sales record for the 12th consecutive month, as it achieved a best-ever December with CPO sales of 6,160, which was a 39-percent year-over-year gain.

For the year, Lexus moved 62,807 CPO units, a 19.6-percent gain from the prior year.

Similarly, Toyota's December CPO sales were up 5.8 percent, as its dealers moved 22,419 certified vehicles. This represented a best-ever December for the automaker, as it also set December records in the Chicago, Gulf States Toyota, Boston and San Francisco Regions, according to the automaker.   

Full-year CPO sales for Toyota were 265,887, a 3.3-percent dip. 

"A Toyota Certified Used Vehicle continues to be the perfect alternative to purchasing a new Toyota," commented Norm Olson, sales operations manager for Toyota Motor Sales, USA. "If a customer cannot qualify or find the new Toyota of their choice, they are shown a TCUV before they leave.   

"With all the reconditioning, warranty, roadside assistance, new vehicle financing and peace of mind that comes with a Toyota Certified Used Vehicle, it's the next best thing to buying a new Toyota," he continued. "Almost half of our customers have never owned a Toyota before, so each month we add about 10,000 new customers to the Toyota family.   

Olson added: "Over 76 percent of our TCUV customers indicate their next purchase will be a new Toyota.  A certified Toyota sells twice as fast as a non-certified used vehicle with half the negotiation. With our strong momentum, we look for continued growth of the TCUV brand in 2010."

At Nissan, the automaker posted certified sales of 7,066 during the month, a 2.5-percent gain from the previous December. Nissan's final year-end CPO sales totaled 79,739, which was a 19.5-percent improvement from the prior year.

The Infiniti division moved 1,025 certified models during the month, a 7.6-percent dip, while the Nissan division sold 6,041 CPO units, a 4.5-percent improvement.

December CPO sales for the automaker were the third-highest monthly volume of the year for Nissan, behind March and August, respectively, said Neal Zirkle, Nissan's senior manager for CPO and pre-owned vehicles.

"Strong activity on the Internet in terms of both searches and leads being sent to dealers indicates January could be another good month for CPO sales," Zirkle shared. "Nissan division models Pathfinder, Rogue and Murano all posted record sales in December with Altima having its second best month of the year. Infiniti model QX56 and EX35 had their best months of the year in December, with G Coupe coming with three units of its best month."

He added: "Having inventory available online still remains our number one opportunity, as consumers are searching for Nissan and Infiniti certified vehicles in record numbers and our dealer network must remain vigilant in keeping a good selection of CPO vehicles in the marketplace to fill this demand."

Hyundai saw significant gains in December, as it posted certified sales of 1,264 units, a 94.2-percent improvement. Year-end sales were up 82.5 percent at 15,020 CPO models sold.

Moving on, Volkswagen saw its certified sales fall 1.8 percent to 3,002 units in December, but year-end sales (43,892 vehicles) were up 20.6 percent from 2008.

"We are very pleased with our final sales results for 2009 and our increase in market share," noted Rob Martin, Rob Martin, CPO manager for VW Sales Operations. "We were able to maintain steady momentum and growth throughout the year thanks to the efforts of our dealers and field staff, in a very challenging and volatile year."

At Mercedes-Benz, despite a 22.6-percent dip in CPO sales for December (where there were 5,098 units sold), the automaker's 2009 year-end certified sales were 11.2 percent ahead of 2008 with 71,886 vehicles sold. 

"Our CPO business has grown steadily every year for the past six years, with an almost 10 percent or more growth each year," stated Scott Penza, department manager, pre-owned operations at Mercedes-Benz USA. "The year was highlighted by eight months of record-setting sales. 2009 was the year that the CPO market demonstrated its strength in value for the luxury automotive industry."

BMW saw its certified sales slip 5 percent during the month, but December's total of 11,134 units sold was still the strongest CPO month of the year for the automaker. BMW's 2009 CPO sales hit 114,423, a 9.5-percent increase over 2008.

"2009 was a great year for BMW CPO and used vehicles. The BMW dealer network achieved all major targets for 2009, including a benchmark that is increasingly important: 65 percent of BMW pre-owned vehicles sold in the United States, aged one through five years, were sold through the BMW dealer network," said Russ Lucas, manager, BMW Pre-Owned Sales. "BMW continues to aggressively work with its dealers, as we have for more than a decade, to build the BMW pre-owned business."

He continued: "As we enter 2010, we anticipate continued sales growth as the value component for BMW pre-owned will be recognized even more now than in previous times, and consumers are responding by purchasing vehicles from BMW dealers where they can enjoy the BMW experience in its entirety."   

Audi posted December certified sales of 1,933 units, compared with 2,472 a year ago. For the year, Audi moved 28,372 CPO models, an 11.6-percent decrease versus 2008.

Subaru's CPO sales reached 1,387 models, a 46.5-percent year-over-year climb. In 2009, Subaru reached certified sales of 15,602, a 60.5-percent improvement over the prior year.

Among domestic automakers, Ford's CPO sales for December were 10,085 units, down 27.9 percent from the previous year. In 2009, the automaker's certified sales were 131,811 units, off 12.6 percent compared to the prior year.

By brand, Lincoln Mercury sold 1,484 CPO units in December, down 22.4 percent, and Ford sold 8,601 certified vehicles, off 28.8 percent.

General Motors' certified brands combined to sell 23,453 units in December, a decrease of 45.5 percent from the prior year. For the year, CPO sales reached 352,311, a 27.4-percent decline.

Breaking it down, GM Certified Used Vehicles moved 20,262 vehicles in December, a 46.2-percent dip.

Hummer Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles had sales of 172 units, a 34.4-percent drop. Cadillac Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles moved 2,313 units, down 38.2 percent.

Saturn Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles sold 465 units during the month, a 47.6-percent decrease. Saab Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles totaled 241 units in December, off 56 percent year-over-year.

Over at Chrysler, the automaker sold 7,194 CPO vehicles in December, a 31.9-percent drop. Year-end certified sales reached 92,117, a 26.2-percent decrease.

By brand, Dodge moved 2,930 CPO units during the month, a 33.6-percent decline. Chrysler sold 1,869 certified models, a 34.3-percent softening, while Jeep had CPO sales of 2,395 units, a 27.6-percent dip.

Continuing on, Honda's CPO sales for December reached 13,613 units, a 5.1-percent increase from the prior year. The automaker finished the year with certified sales of 162,541 units, an 11.9-percent decline.

Acura dealers moved 3,006 CPO units for the month, a 14-percent slowdown. Yearly sales, however, were up 3.9 percent at 39,654 units.

Volvo sold 1,678 certified units in December, compared with 2,292 vehicles the prior year. Total 2009 CPO sales reached 22,882 units, compared with 25,571 CPO vehicles in 2008.

Among other automakers, Kia sold 455 CPO units in December, compared with 210 a year ago. Mazda's certified sales hit 339 units during the month, down from 455 in the prior year.

Jaguar sold 347 CPO vehicles, down from 569 in December 2008. Land Rover's certified sales were 324 units, compared with 745 in the year-ago period.

Porsche's certified sales hit 477 in December, compared with 339 the previous December.

Mini sold 147 CPO vehicles, compared with 119 a year ago.

Mitsubishi was estimated to have sold 50 certified vehicles, compared with an estimated 85 last December.

Autodata estimated that Bentley moved 30 CPO units in December, down from an estimated 60 models a year ago.

Maserati moved 20 certified vehicles during December and was in its first year of reporting CPO sales data.