"Used cars are a crucial part of our business - every bit as important as new cars," said Phil Hartz, spokesman for UnitedAuto Group Inc. of Detroit. UnitedAuto, the second-largest dealership group in new retail units, is the fifth-largest seller of used vehicles. It sold 69,302 used vehicles in 2001, a 19 percent increase over 2000.
"Our customers expect that we'll have used cars, and used cars represent a good profit opportunity not only in sales but in service and parts," Hartz said. "And used-car customers usually become new-car customers."
Ben Hollingsworth, chairman of Group 1 Automotive Inc. of Houston, agrees, saying his company's gross profit margin on used vehicles is higher than on new vehicles: "Our new-vehicle margin was 7.4 percent; our used-vehicle margin was 8.8 percent."
Group 1 sold 67,927 used vehicles in 2001, a 14.9 percent increase over 2000. It ranked No. 6 on the 2001 list.
AutoNation Inc., which is the biggest seller of new vehicles, tops the used-vehicle sales tally as well.
AutoNation, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., sold 258,000 used cars and trucks in 2001, outselling its nearest competitor and former used-vehicle archrival, CarMax Inc., by more than 106,000 units. CarMax, of Glen Allen, Va., sold an estimated 151,185 used vehicles.
At Sonic Automotive Inc., the third-largest used-vehicle seller last year, President Scott Smith said used vehicles are an important part of the company, making up 36.2 percent of its sales volume in 2001.
Sonic, which is in Charlotte, N.C., sold 81,122 used vehicles, up 1.7 percent from 2000.
Asbury Automotive Group, which went public March 14, was the only top 10 company to have a drop in used-vehicle sales last year. Asbury, of Stamford, Conn., sold 65,000 used units in 2001, down from 70,000 in 2000. Asbury ranked No. 7.