Cadillac's certified used-vehicle sales increased 27.1 percent the first four months of 2003, the highest year-to-date percent increase among the top five luxury brands that report certified sales.
Cadillac sold 10,791 certified cars and trucks the first four months of 2003, compared with 8,490 the first four months of 2002.
But BMW continues as the leading luxury brand in certified used vehicles with year-to-date sales through April of 21,408. Mercedes-Benz was second with sales of 15,970 units for the four-month period.
In third place, Lexus sold 11,134 certified units the first four months of the year and is the only major luxury brand to experience a sales decline. Its April year-to-date sales are down 20.8 percent from the year-ago period.
Ford Motor Co. does not report Lincoln certified sales separately.
Certified used-vehicle sales are important to luxury brands because they help raise off-lease residual values, support new-vehicle prices and attract new buyers to the brand.
Kim McGill, director of retail development at Cadillac, says it expects to sell 35,000 certified units this year, up from 30,138 in 2002.
McGill says her department is in charge of remarketing and the overall incentive strategy for Cadillac. Having these new and certified efforts under one umbrella enables the division to implement new car strategies with an eye on certified used sales.
"We need to be conscious of what we're driving in the new end of the business," McGill says. "It stimulates used-car inventory for dealers. When they sell new, they're taking vehicles in on trade. We have to have a program in place that allows them to get that throughput in the secondary market."
Denny Clements, Lexus general manager, says all Lexus dealers sell certified used vehicles, but many don't pursue that business aggressively because they are doing well without it. Also, some dealers don't have room at their dealerships to do a large certified used-vehicle business, he says.
The company is working on programs to get more Lexus dealers selling certified vehicles, Clements says.
"We're not in a crisis mode, but we have to think about what it's going to look like in three and four years from now," he says.
Through April, automakers sold 490,022 certified used vehicles, a 30.8 percent increase over the year-ago period. April's sales were 133,335, up 25.4 percent over April 2002.