Certified pre-owned cars become more popular; used car sales fall in first quarter

Certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles are more popular than ever, according to a new report from Edmunds.com, the resource for car shopping and automotive information. The report, which evaluates the landscape of America's used car market through the first quarter of 2013, found that CPO sales this year are up 6.2 percent over the first three months of 2012, and that the segment's 21 percent share of all used car sales by franchise dealers in 1Q 2013 was the highest it has ever been.

"Car manufacturers love certified pre-owned programs because they attract new customers, strengthen loyalty and help to move off-lease inventory," commented Edmunds.com Director of Used Car Analysis Joe Spina. "We can expect even higher levels of CPO sales later this year as dealers absorb a growing influx of lease returns."

While certified pre-owned cars are generally priced higher than other used cars, they appeal to shoppers because they're often more reliable. That's because all CPO vehicles undergo at least a 100-point inspection and they come with an extended warranty, which alleviates the buyer's fear of inheriting someone else's problems. Car shoppers can review and compare the terms of every manufacturer's CPO program at http://www.edmunds.com/certified-cars/compare-program.html.

Edmunds.com's CPO finding is just one of many insights available in its new quarterly Used Car Market Report. The report digs deep into the used car market to reveal compelling trends from both franchise dealerships and private parties. Other highlights in the 2013 first quarter report include:

  • There were 9.7 million used vehicle sales in the U.S. in the first quarter, down 6.2 percent from the first quarter of 2012.
  • Used car retail prices at franchise dealerships ($15,793, on average) remained relatively flat, up 0.5 percent year over year.
  • Subaru vehicles sold faster at franchise dealerships than any other used car brand in the first quarter; Volvo's used sales were the slowest.
  • Edmunds.com expects a typical seasonal price pattern for used cars this year: an increase in the spring, stability through early summer months, and then a decrease thereafter.

Edmunds.com's 2013 1Q Used Car Market report is available for free right now at http://www.edmunds.com/industry-center/data/used-car-market-quarterly-report.html.