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Cadillac trails foes in certified auto sales

Best sellers
The top five best-selling certified used-vehicle luxury brands through the first 10 months of 2001

BMW: 32,287

Mercedes-Benz: 31,261

Lexus: 27,185

Acura: 17,994

Cadillac: 15,483

Source: Company reports

Just as Cadillac is trailing many competitors in new-car sales, the former luxury sales king also finds itself near the back of the pack in certified used-car sales.

To get on track, Cadillac has enhanced its certified used-vehicle warranty to 100,000 miles. By mid-2002 the company plans to add a locator feature to the site to help consumers find the vehicle of their choice at a nearby dealership.

"Given today's competitive environment, we felt very strongly that we needed to have a 100,000-mile warranty,'' said Rob Quinn, manager of the Cadillac Certified Pre-Owned Automobile Program. Quinn declined to discuss the program's cost, but dealers said they pay $1,000 to certify each vehicle under the improved program, up from $640 per vehicle.

The additional money covers the program's six year/100,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. The previous warranty was to six years/70,000 miles.

On par

Quinn said the enhanced warranty puts Cadillac on equal footing with the certified used-vehicle warranties of other luxury brands.

Consumers get a vehicle covered by a factory warranty with no deductible, and dealers make more money on certified used vehicles, he said.

A study conducted by ADESA Corp. of Indianapolis, Ind., found that consumers are willing to pay about $2,000 more for a certified used luxury car than comparable non-certified cars.

Vehicles eligible for certification under Cadillac's program still must be covered by its original four-year/50,000 mile warranty. The vehicles undergo 110-point inspections and are mechanically and cosmetically reconditioned.

The warranty includes access to a customer relations hotline, roadside assistance and reimbursement for transportation and other emergency expenses.

Bill Napleton, owner of Napleton Cadillac in Park Ridge, Ill., said he is a member of the national dealer council that asked for and helped shape the enhanced program. He said dealers liked the program before the warranty was extended, and they like it even better now.

"We asked for a better certification program; it serves the dealers and customers of Cadillac well," said Napleton, who retails about 17 certified Cadillacs and 35 other used vehicles a month.

Expects to exceed 2000

About 70 percent of Cadillac's 1,500 dealerships sell certified used Cadillacs, Quinn said. Only Cadillac dealers are allowed to sell certified used Cadillacs. From January through October, Cadillac and its dealers sold 15,483 certified used vehicles, compared with 16,721 for all of 2000.

"We're pleased at what we're seeing," Quinn said. "October was a good month, and it appears that we're on track to exceed last year."

Several luxury brands outsell Cadillac in the certified used-vehicle category. Through October, the luxury certified sales leader was BMW, which sold 32,287, followed by Mercedes at 31,261, Lexus at 27,185 and Acura at 17,994. Lincoln does not disclose certified used-vehicle sales numbers.

Cadillac is expanding its Web presence from its current one page on Cadillac.com to a more comprehensive page that will detail the program and its benefits. Quinn said this should on the site by late December or early January.

You can reach Arlena Sawyers at asawyers@crain.com

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