Used Cars Can Boost Overall Sales in 2008

May 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Rob Chesney - Also by this author

With predictions of new vehicles sales forecasting a continued decline in  2008, coupled with a questionable economy, dealers are gearing up plans to focus renewed attention on used vehicle sales.

In its 2008 automotive trends forecast, expects light vehicle sales to be down this year, with sales dropping to 15.9 million units from approximately 16.15 million units in 2007. Certified pre-owned vehicle sales, on the other hand, are predicted to rise as consumers look to spend less, yet seek a sense of security in their next used vehicle purchase.

Used vehicle sales increasingly provide dealerships with a renewed revenue stream. To help cover dealership overhead costs, dealers can focus on used-car operations. The Internet offers dealers access to a national audience of potential buyers, making it more efficient than ever to market used cars both nationally and locally.

According to J.D. Power and Associates’ 2007 Used study, Internet sites such as eBay Motors are increasingly leading consumers to the vehicle they eventually purchased. Last year, nearly one in four buyers of late-model used vehicles used an Internet vehicle locator or online classified ad services to find the vehicle they purchased. That’s almost a 44 percent increase from 2006.

Dealerships are predicted to increase their share of the U.S. used-vehicle market this year from individual sellers. According to CNW Marketing Research, total U.S. used vehicle sales will decrease to 40 million units from 41.4 million in 2007. This means that although dealers will increase their presence in the market, the overall picture is a shrinking one.

The key to expanding used-vehicle sales is to market that inventory online. In fact, the J.D. Power study reports that last year was the first year that Internet use surpassed all other shopping methods in locating the used vehicle that a buyer ultimately purchases.

Dealers can invest staff, time and money to create expanded Web sites, purchase online advertising and engage in search engine optimization. Another option is to partner with third-party sites that already have these functions successfully in place.

eBay Motors regularly uses search to drive approximately 11 million unique visitors – and potential buyers – each month to eBay Motors sellers. In fact, eBay Motors is consistently ranked the No. 1 automotive site on the Web by Nielsen/NetRatings.

Dealers can experiment with sites such as eBay Motors by testing different offers, performing research to see which vehicles have sold well historically and enhancing listings to see what features drive the most results. In addition, an online automotive marketplace easily expands a dealership’s geographical reach and adds an increased sense of security during the transaction with tools some of the sites have in place.

An increased focus on used vehicles leads dealerships to seek out the most efficient way to maximize marketing dollars and move as many vehicles as possible. The Internet opens up these possibilities with a broad audience of shoppers who are already online researching and comparing their options in the used-vehicle market.

Vol 5, Issue 4

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