November 20, 2002

Certified used cars account for more than one-third of U.S. used car sales

Westlake Village, California – In the United States, sales of certified used vehicles have increased 46 percent since 2000, with certified used vehicles comprising an estimated 35 percent of late-model used vehicles sold in 2002, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2002 Used-Vehicle Sales and Certification Study released on Tuesday.

The inaugural study measures the satisfaction and experiences of owners of certified used vehicles. “Certified” refers to late-model used vehicles that have typically undergone a detailed inspection at the dealership and are sold with manufacturer-backed warranty coverage.

“Certification programs are changing the face of the late-model used-vehicle market,” said Scott Weitzman, senior director of retail programs at J.D. Power and Associates. “While the traditional used-vehicle sale is motivated primarily by price, certification programs increase consumer confidence about the quality of the used vehicle, backed by a strong warranty.”

While 53 percent of all used-vehicle buyers are aware of certification programs before they start shopping, less than one-quarter of buyers who purchased a certified used vehicle initially set out to do so. However, awareness of certification programs continues to increase, and the programs are attracting a significant number of vehicle shoppers who originally consider only a new vehicle. Nearly one-half of all buyers of certified used vehicles state they would not have purchased a used vehicle had it not been for the availability of the certification program.

The value-added benefits of certified used vehicles have been particularly attractive to luxury buyers, who purchase certified used vehicles at a higher rate than do non-luxury buyers.

“In many cases, certified used-vehicle programs are giving new-vehicle buyers access to a higher class of vehicle than they may have originally considered along with added perks like free maintenance and roadside assistance-features that the traditional used-vehicle sale never provided before,” said Weitzman.

Lexus ranks highest in satisfying certified used-vehicle owners, receiving top ratings in each of the factors contributing to overall satisfaction with certified used-vehicle programs: program features, vehicle quality, shopping experience and vehicle price. Lexus is followed in the rankings by Jaguar, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, respectively.

The 2002 Used-Vehicle Sales and Certification Study measures the experiences of more than 11,000 used-vehicle buyers.

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