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Ford: Enhanced certified program boosts sales

Ford Motor Co. expects its dealers to boost sales of their certified-used vehicles significantly as a result of enhancements it put in place in February, says the general manager of Ford and Lincoln sales. Results so far bear him out.

John Felice predicts Ford and Lincoln dealers will sell about 168,000 certified-used cars and trucks this year, a 29 percent increase over last year. Through July, dealers have sold 97,058 used vehicles, up 29 percent from the year-earlier period.

But program changes — such as a longer warranty for certified vehicles — are only a small part of the success, Felice says. He says sales also are being bolstered by a re-energized and expanded dealership network, a realigned certified-used-vehicle team at Ford and special finance rates from Ford Motor Credit Co.

“Because of the success and the quick start we’re getting with the program, other dealers” who were not in the program “are saying, ‘Wait a minute, I need to get on board,'” Felice says. “I feel really good about our future growth.”

He says Ford changed its certified-used-vehicle programs at the suggestion of its dealers. In 2010, they said they wanted more robust and competitive programs.

Felice says 2,601 of Ford Motor’s 3,300 dealers participate in its certified programs, including 457 who joined this year.

In February, the comprehensive bumper-to-bumper warranty on Ford and Mercury vehicles was lengthened to 12 months/12,000 miles from 3 months/3,000 miles. The powertrain warranty for those vehicles is now 7 years/100,000 miles, up from 6 years/100,000 miles.

The Lincoln certified-used-vehicle warranty was unchanged, but marketing support for the brand was increased.

The enhanced program has benefited Ford and its dealers in other ways, too, Felice says. Fifty-five percent of the buyers of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury certified-used vehicles are new to the brand. And those owners are twice as likely to buy a new vehicle from Ford.

Ford also created a certified-used-vehicle team that creates marketing plans for the programs. Before, there was one full-time person dedicated to the program and others who “owned” it, Felice says. Ford also created a separate field staff dedicated to helping dealers with certified-used-vehicle sales. Previously, certified-used programs were among the many elements that Ford’s sales field team worked on with dealers.

“We knew we needed a dedicated team of resources both here and in the field,” Felice says.

Ford Credit currently is offering finance rates of 1.9 percent on loans up to 36 months on all certified-used vehicles to qualified customers through Oct. 1. This year, the company has offered special rates as low as 0.9 percent to select certified-used-vehicle buyers.

via Auto News.

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