Certified used-vehicle sales rose 14.6 percent in 2003, but several major manufacturers fell far short of their optimistic targets.
December sales of 115,576 units lifted 2003 volume to 1,474,046. It was the second year in which more than 1 million certified units were sold.
Toyota Division was the only major brand to hit its target for the year. Toyota, the best-selling certified used-car brand, sold 236,368 units last year, topping its objective of 235,000.
Used-car executives at brands that sold fewer vehicles than planned still say they are pleased with the results. They also expect certified used sales to grow in 2004, though at a slower rate than in the last two years.
Industrywide, certified sales almost doubled from 2001 to 2002.
Certified used-vehicle programs cover late-model vehicles that have been inspected and come with factory warranties.
Jeff Heichel, General Motors director of used-vehicle activities, predicts that the industry will grow by 8 percent to 12 percent in 2004.
GM Certified - Buick, Chevrolet, GMC, Oldsmobile and Pontiac - sold 397,638 used cars and trucks in 2003, 22 percent more than the previous year. Its 2003 goal was 400,000.
But GM Certified's initial goal for 2003 was 450,000. The target was adjusted to 400,000.
GM's four separate certified programs - GM Certified, Cadillac, Saab and Saturn - sold 475,347 certified used vehicles in 2003, 24 percent more than 2002.
"We're extremely delighted with 2003," Heichel says. "Overall we were up 24 percent over last year. How can you be more satisfied than that?"
Ford Motor Co.'s Ford Division, Lincoln and Mercury brands sold 167,194 certified used vehicles in 2003. That is 13.2 percent more than in 2002 but 33.1 percent below its 250,000 goal.
The company did not factor in the effects of 0 percent financing when it set its 2003 objectives, says Mike Dennis, manager of Ford Division's used-vehicle program. He says he is pleased with last year's increase.
"We're (Ford) pacing with the industry growth," he says. "I think there is plenty of room for more growth with certified pre-owned. I think its going to grow slowly."
Counting its import brands, Jaguar, Volvo and Land Rover, Ford Motor sold 217,822 units in 2003, up from 196,403 in 2002.
The Chrysler group sold 81,553 certified units in 2003, 24.5 percent more than in 2002. It had predicted sales would grow by 40 percent to 50 percent last year. "That was based on an industry of 2 million" units, says Bud Place, Chrysler group senior remarketing manager. "Our goal is to outpace the growth of the segment."
Including Mercedes-Benz, DaimlerChrysler sold 134,574 certified units in 2003, up 23.5 percent over 2002.