As a wave of off-lease vehicles returned to the market, sales of certified pre-owned vehicles seemed poised to set records for the seventh consecutive year in 2017. But in fact, sales have slipped for many brands, and the streak of record CPO sales may end.
CPO sales dropped 3.2 percent in July from the year-earlier period to 227,045 vehicles, according to numbers from the Automotive News Data Center and Autodata Corp. In the first seven months of 2017, sales edged up just 0.6 percent. In contrast, in all of 2016, sales climbed 3.5 percent.
"The market is up — but not as much as we expected," Zohaib Rahim, Autotrader's manager of industry insights, said.
The narrative surrounding CPO sales is shifting rapidly with consumer preference, said Rahim, as the deluge of off-lease sedans returning to dealerships are competing in a drastically different market.
"It's a suspense thriller," Rahim said. "We don't know how it's going to end."
Sales are sliding for several of the highest-volume CPO brands, even as some smaller players post solid growth.