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Used Car Sales See Upswing

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Auto sales and economic conditions are on the upswing, provided you're talking certified used automobiles.

In a year when new vehicle sales could settle below 14 million, the lowest in almost a decade, certified used sales are up 2%, through August, per Autodata, Woodcliff Lake, N.J. Comparatively, new vehicle sales are down 11.2%.
 
More than 40 million used vehicles are sold every year in the U.S., from the in-family transfer for $1 to the 1.7 million units that will be sold as certified used vehicles this year.

Add to that the fact that several automakers, including Ford and General Motors, earlier this year scaled back their leasing programs, and the market for used is very strong. "There are a lot of people who right now just can't afford a new vehicle," said Jim Hossack, vp at industry consultancy AutoPacific, Tustin, Calif. "And there are a lot of good deals out there and a lot of ways to find those deals."

For this segment of the auto industry, digital sales and marketing trumps traditional methods. More than 90% of General Motors used-vehicle marketing spend, for example, will be online.

Last month, GM launched its new online push called Usedcarambush.com. Here, undercover film operators show the potential drawbacks of buying a used vehicle that is not certified. "This new need to educate consumers about things like a certified used program is driving our marketing," said Mark Mathews, director of used-vehicle activities at General Motors. "Digital is where used car buyers are. We are almost exclusively on the Web because used car buyers, and there are more right now, are not in market as long as new car buyers and we need to get to them right away."

Toyota, which saw a 5% increase in certified used vehicles through August, regularly enhances toyota.com/certified.

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