At the eighth annual Conference of Automotive Remarketing (CAR), the original and only conference that covers all remarketing channels, three leading industry experts presented keynote addresses focusing on concerns affecting today’s remarketing industry. GM's newly-appointed group vice president for North America vehicle sales, John Smith, gave his first-ever address to the remarketing community at Tuesday’s (Feb. 25) keynote presentation, entitled "The Future of Certified Used Vehicle Sales." Smith says certified used vehicle sales have grown 45 percent, with demand continuing to increase. However, only 20 percent of the vehicles eligible for certification are sold as certified, leaving plenty of upside growth for certified vehicle sales. In 2002, non-luxury certified sales accounted for 80 percent of certified sales. This is impressive because certified used vehicle programs were primarily started for luxury vehicles. Manufacturer certification, Smith said, benefits not only the customer, but the dealer and manufacturer as well. Customers can count on new-car like benefits, and the peace of mind that comes with buying a certified used vehicle. For dealers and manufacturers, certification builds brand loyalty for cars and trucks. It allows manufacturers to manage off-lease and off-rent returns, and helps grow residual values. Smith predicted that certified used-vehicle sales would start to resemble new vehicle sales in the near future and he is confident GM will increase certified sales to one million units in the foreseeable future. In 2002, GM sold 385,000 units as certified vehicles and it is projecting an increase of 37 percent in 2003. GM will initiate a customer satisfaction survey in 2003 for its used-vehicle certified sales. Charley Smith, Watson Truck & Supply, Inc.’s chairman of the board and vice chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), kicked off the seminar schedule Monday morning (Feb. 24) with a keynote presentation on "What Dealers Want from Auctions." Smith spoke on the mindset of dealers coming into auctions and how the partnership can be strengthened in the future. He emphasized reducing the intimidation factor many dealers face when first encountering an auction setting, and encouraged auctions to develop relationships with dealers. Smith discussed the certification process and stressed the importance of providing market-ready vehicles for dealers. He explained that NADA had revised its code of ethics and the industry was preparing itself for growth in the virtual auction concept. Michael Linn, executive vice president of the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA), delivered his keynote address on "Key Issues Facing Independent Dealers." The NIADA, said Linn, boasts a membership of over 16,000. However, the membership must be open to more opportunities and methods, he stressed. Through surveys and questionnaires conducted by NIADA, he said new developments would be taking place in the organization. Among these changes is the introduction of an industry-recognized set of standardized forms used throughout the country and implementation of an NIADA account system for members. The Certified Master Dealer (CMD) program continues, now applying to a participant’s four-year degree, if desired. The NIADA will take its training on the road as well, offering regional professional development conferences.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials