Industrywide CPO sales climbed 1.2 percent during the first half. During the same period, U.S. new light-vehicle sales dropped 2.4 percent, according to the Automotive News Data Center. CPO sales for the period totaled about 1.4 million vehicles vs. 8.4 million for new vehicles.
As affordability challenges contribute to declining new-vehicle sales and with CPO programs offering near-new vehicles with warranty perks, could cannibalization be occurring? George Augustaitis, CarGurus' director of industry analytics, thinks so.
"The thing that's really interesting about CPO and where I always saw the biggest opportunity for cannibalization is on the luxury side — not just luxury from luxury," Augustaitis said.
Cannibalization could be happening on multiple levels. A shopper looking at a new BMW X3 may see a certified 3-year-old BMW X5 for a reasonable price and select the X5. At the same time, luxury brands could be poaching some sales from their nonluxury siblings: Lexus from Toyota, Acura from Honda or Lincoln from Ford, for example.
For luxury brands, certified used vehicles provide "a great opportunity to get people into the brand quicker and at a lower entry cost," Augustaitis said.
Certified used-vehicle sales results so far this year have varied among automakers. Toyota Motor North America remains the volume leader as its Toyota and Lexus brands combined for a 3.5 percent gain.
General Motors' CPO sales fell 10 percent, led by declines of 17 percent for Buick, 12 percent for GMC and 10 percent for Cadillac. Ford Motor Co.'s CPO sales declined 7.3 percent, as an 8.9 percent drop for the Ford brand was partially offset by Lincoln's 6.3 percent rise.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' certified sales grew 5.1 percent in the first half, in part fueled by gains of 16 percent for Ram and 11 percent for Jeep but pulled down by Chrysler's 17 percent drop.
Among high-volume automakers, Volkswagen Group of America posted the first half's biggest gain, at 16 percent. It was led by increases of 19 percent for the Volkswagen brand and 16 percent for Audi. Other notable brands included Volvo, up 29 percent; Land Rover, up 22 percent; and Mazda, up 20 percent.
Augustaitis said Volkswagen's increase could have happened as it completed its buyback of diesel vehicles caused by the automaker's diesel emissions cheating scandal and likely resold many as certified vehicles. Volkswagen did not respond to an email seeking comment on its certified sales.
Among luxury marques, Mercedes-Benz USA's certified sales grew 3.6 percent in the first half, while BMW Group's CPO sales fell 9.9 percent.
The climb in CPO sales comes as off-lease vehicles peak this year and are expected to total 4.1 million units, according to Cox Automotive.