Sales of certified used vehicles rose at a double-digit clip in the first five months of the year, stoked by more off-lease vehicles re-entering the market, stepped-up marketing support and improved warranties.
Through May, industrywide U.S. certified used-vehicle sales rose 14 percent from the year-earlier period, the fastest rise in 10 years. Sales picked up to a 19 percent gain to 187,050 units in May and are on track to surpass the first-half record set last year.
Toyota Division remains the certified used-vehicle sales leader with a sales increase of 16 percent in May to 32,359 units and 13 percent for five months to 152,579.
Dave Depew, Toyota corporate manager of fleet, Toyota Rent A Car and certified used vehicles, says Toyota dealers have a "healthy amount" of off-lease vehicles -- the bread and butter of certified used-vehicle sales -- from which to choose.
In 2010, an aggressive 36-month lease program was one of the tools Toyota used to aid its recovery from negative publicity stemming from its massive recall to correct sudden acceleration. Now, Depew says, those vehicles are returning to the market in good numbers.
"The quality and quantity of vehicles available to our dealers for certification is the best it's been in quite a while," he says.
About 1,150 of Toyota's 1,230 dealerships participate in its certified used-vehicle program. Depew predicts that 2013 will be Toyota's best year for certified used-vehicle sales.
"We are tracking to exceed last year's number. Last year we were just under 331,000," he says.
Ricky Beggs, managing editor of Black Book, agrees that certified sales this year are buoyed by the increase in the number of off-lease vehicles returning to the market.
He says the number of off-lease vehicles returning to the market annually bottomed out in December 2012 and is climbing gradually.
"I've seen estimates anywhere from 300,000 to 500,000 off-lease vehicles coming back into the marketplace this year over last year," Beggs says. "That's driving that increase as much as anything."