Mark Igo: Infiniti lacks enough late-model used vehicle for dealers to certify.
Infiniti General Manager Mark Igo says he expects to relaunch the program "by the 2006 model year."
Igo would not offer specific examples of changes he seeks.
The luxury division of Nissan North America Inc. set a U.S. goal of selling 10,000 certified used vehicles in 2004. It sold 3,455 certified vehicles last year.
This year, Infiniti is selling fewer certified vehicles than any brand that reports its sales, other than ultraluxury Bentley.
Infiniti sold 152 certified used vehicles in May. That was 48.3 percent below its sales of 294 certified vehicles in May 2004.
From January through May, the brand sold 757 certified-used vehicles. That was a 62.6 percent drop from the 2,024 vehicles it sold in the year-ago period.
Infiniti lacks enough late-model used vehicles for dealers to certify, Igo says.
Off-lease vehicles, which are prime candidates for certification, are in short supply at Infiniti, he says.
"We were light in lease strategy for a few years," Igo says. "We're only doing about 30 percent leasing right now. A lot of our cars aren't coming back" for certification.
Dealerships can make more money per vehicle selling Infiniti's extended service contract to used-vehicle buyers than they make on certified sales, Igo adds.
Steve Lapin, chairman of Infiniti's dealer advisory board, says Infiniti did not have a pressing need for a certified program.
"The manufacturers that have the big certified programs have a lot of cars coming off lease," says Lapin, an Infiniti dealer in Thousand Oaks, Calif. "That's an important part of helping to sell those cars. We're not in that position.
But Infiniti "should always have a good program," Lapin says. "I think they recognize that."
Certified used vehicles bring new customers to Infiniti dealerships, Lapin says.
Leases on about 12,000 vehicles financed by Infiniti's captive finance company will end this year, a spokeswoman says. Most of those vehicles likely will be bought by customers who leased them or the dealerships where the vehicles are returned, she says.
Art Spinella, president of CNW Marketing/Research Inc. in Bandon, Ore., says Infiniti's captive financed leases on many 2001 and 2002 vehicles for 42 or 48 months. Leases usually run for 36 months.
As a result, Spinella says, many 2001 Infiniti vehicles are just now returning to the marketplace. Automakers that offered 36-month contracts are seeing 2002 models come off lease, he says.
Spinella estimates that about 40,000 leases on Infiniti vehicles will expire this year. That total includes leases financed through sources other than Infiniti's captive.
Overall, the industry sold 129,838 certified used vehicles in May. That was 4.9 percent below the May 2004 total of 136,570 vehicles.
From January through May, the industry sold 671,501 certified vehicles. That was 3.4 percent more than the 649,297 vehicles it sold in the year-ago period.
You may e-mail Arlena Sawyers at [email protected]