NADA Convention upbeat as dealers hear Jeb Bush, Jay Leno

NADA Convention upbeat as dealers hear Jeb Bush, Jay Leno

Auto sales looked good a year ago as dealers gathered at the annual NADA Convention, but by the time they met last week in San Francisco for the 2015 Convention, it was even more clear that auto sales, and the auto industry overall, are leading the economy. Dealersê upbeat mood was reflected at the convention, where attendance of 23,000 plus was the highest in many years.

The exhibit floor was sold out, with 570 companies exhibiting. Workshop attendance also set a new record. Leading the general sessions, two keynoters proved to be dealer favorites: Prospective presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush and comedian Jay Leno (no report on Mr. Leno because no press were allowed in that session). And it didnêt hurt that the Convention was held in San Francisco, where the temperature was in the 60s all week.

Before the convention started, the dealer organization generously kicked off the weekês activities by donating $50,000 from the NADA Charitable Foundation to the SF-Marin Food Bank. When they presented the check, leaders from the NADA Charitable Foundation toured the food bank, then rolled up their sleeves for volunteer work.

The auto finance guidance from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, now nearly two years old, was again a big topic at the convention. The CFPB guidance to the banks it regulates alleges that allowing dealers to set finance rates may result in discrimination against minorities, even if unintended. Bush drew hearty applause when he said the –unelected bureaucrats” of the CFPB –went forward with the rule without notice, without a public hearing, not knowing whether it would work.”

NADA has devoted a lot of energy in those two years to dealing with the consequences of the CFPBês position on car loans and has issued guidelines for dealers in response for complying with the Fair Credit law and the specious charges of discrimination against minorities.

Outgoing NADA Chairman Forrest McConnell underscored that NADA will continue to work hard to clear roadblocks to dealer success.

–This association helps keep the negative things away, like unreasonable manufacturerês franchise policies and unfair government regulations,” he said. –NADA helps dealers fly right so they can concentrate on their businesses.”

Incoming NADA Chairman Bill Fox tackled the broader issue of the value of the franchised dealer network.

–The automotive franchise system is the most efficient method of bringing new vehicles to the driving public,” Fox said. –Dealers are fierce competitors that drive consumer costs down and ensure superior customer service.”

In response to critics who complain about state franchise laws, Fox said that –these laws, which vary from state to state, have a common objective: They seek to level the playing field between dealers and the manufacturers and that benefits the citizens of those states.”

Outgoing chairman McConnell is a Honda and Acura dealer from Montgomery, Ala. Incoming chairman Fox is a multifranchise dealer in upstate New York.

Download Bulletin PDF