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Ferndale — Sales of certified pre-owned vehicles are expected in 2014 to hit a fourth straight year of record sales and will continue to increase over the next few years with more vehicles coming off leases, according to one chief economist.

“The (certified pre-owned) market is large and it’s going to get larger,” said Tom Webb, chief economist for Manheim, a vehicle auction company affiliated with AutoTrader.com.

AutoTrader.com, a car shopping marketplace, predicts more than 9 million certified used vehicles will hit the market in the new few years. Automakers last year sold about 2.1 million certified used vehicles in the U.S. In 2000, they sold about 500,000.

Webb predicts 2015 will be the fifth consecutive year of record certified pre-owned sales..

Through September, sales of certified used vehicles are up 9.9 percent for the year, according to AutoTrader.com, citing Automotive News data.

Many auto brands are seeing big jumps in certified used sales through the first nine months this year. Ford is up 20 percent, Chrysler is up 19 percent and Chevrolet is up 8 percent.

Mercedes-Benz is up 21 percent, BMW and Hyundai are up 24 percent, Audi is up 19 percent and Nissan is up 21 percent. Toyota certified used sales are down 5 percent and Honda sales are down 8 percent.

Customers typically pay more for certified pre-owned vehicles than traditional used cars, sometimes a few thousand dollars more. But certified vehicles include manufacturer-backed warranties and vehicles have gone through extensive evaluations, which gives many customers peace of mind.

Luxury makes usually offer even more benefits such as 24-hour roadside assistance and free rental vehicles if the car needs warranty repairs.

Sales of certified used vehicles are big business to some dealers and automakers such as Toyota, which sold nearly 370,000 last year.

GM’s Chevrolet brand sold more than 257,000 certified used vehicles last year, while Honda sold nearly 247,000.

Webb said there has been a shortage of late model used vehicles, but with many customers turning in leased vehicles and with more expected through at least 2017, it will offer dealers more supply of vehicles that could be offered as certified pre-owned. He said the supply of former rental cars also is expected to increase.

AutoTrader.com revealed findings of a recent study on certified pre-owned vehicles on Thursday. The study found car shoppers are considering certified pre-owned vehicles more and buyers of these vehicles tend to be satisfied and loyal customers who are likely to buy new cars in the future.

Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst for AutoTrader.com, said the percentages of new and used car shoppers who for the first time would consider buying a certified used vehicle doubled from 2013. “And why is that?” Krebs said. “The No. 1 reason is the economy is driving that.”

Established certified used programs such as BMW’s and Toyota’s will “reap a lot of the rewards” in future certified used sales growth, said Rick Wainschel, vice president of customer insights for AutoTrader.com.

But he said he also expects brands such as Hyundai and Kia, which are increasing their percentage of leased vehicles, also will benefit.

mburden@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2319

Twitter.com/MBurden_DN

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