NADA dealers upbeat in New Orleans amid upbeat auto sales

NADA dealers upbeat in New Orleans amid upbeat auto sales

In some ways, the 2014 NADA/ATD Convention was almost like old times, back in New Orleans with auto sales likely to return to pre-recession levels this year in an improving economy. Attendance to the Convention was robust, too, at 22,000.

Unlike the old days, theres a female president at the head of General Motors, Mary Barra, who was First Lady Michelle Obamas guest at the State of the Union address recently. And although its not unusual to hear a major political figure speak at the Convention, there have been few women or Democrats. Hillary Clinton was a controversial choice when first announced, but her hour long speech appeared to be well received by dealers.

The biggest topic of the Convention this time wasnt a manufacturer program, but guidancefrom a federal agency. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau alleged last March that lenders, by allowing dealers to set the finance rate on consumer loans, run the risk of violating fair credit laws, even if unintentionally.

NADA, with AIADA and the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers, issued new guidelines for complying with the Fair Credit law that were announced at the Convention.

Speaking at the Convention, outgoing NADA Chairman Dave Westcott addressed the issue head on. Our industry strongly opposes any form of discrimination in any aspect of our business, said Westcott, referring to CFPBs allegations that dealers financed by banks CFPB regulates, do indeed discriminate against minority consumers of vehicle credit. If a federal agency is making allegations that discrimination exists in our industry, it should have to explain itself, and it needs to be transparent with the public, Westcott said.

If the CFPB gets its way and dealers move to flat fees for financing, consumers will lose the ability to see if dealers can meet or beat an offer from their own bank, Westcott said. This will harm competition.

Incoming NADA Chairman Forrest McConnell, III, who WardsAuto says gets an A in public speaking – was even more forceful. Eighty percent of customers come to us because our financing system is convenient and competitive, he said. We provide credit avenues that they didnt even know existed.

NADA will keep hammering Washington that dealers dont add to customers credit costs. We save our customers money, period, McConnell said.

Videos on three giant screens were interspersed with McConnells speech, showing a skydiver, race car driver, rock concert, runners and comments from multi-franchise dealer Roger Penske.

Outgoing NADA Chairman Westcott is a Buick, GMC and Suzuki dealer from Burlington, N.C. Incoming Chairman McConnell is a Honda and Acura dealer in Montgomery, Ala.

Download Bulletin PDF