This year’s NADA Show in San Francisco, which started the day before President Trump announced a temporary end to the government shutdown, showed dealer resilience in the face of uncertainty. Last year’s auto sales were better than expected, thanks in part to strong incentives. Then January 2019 sales fell, in large part because of the cold and the government furloughs.
So, dealer resilience emerges. Outgoing NADA Chairman Wes Lutz said that far from resisting changes, such as ride sharing and autonomous vehicles, dealers embrace change.
“Dealers aren’t fighting the future, we’re writing it,” said Lutz in his formal remarks to dealers at the NADA Show. “Keep writing this script, continue searching for a better customer experience, and keep defining this industry. You always have.”
Charlie Gilchrist, as incoming chairman of NADA, spoke about the challenges facing dealers. “Profitability in our new-vehicle department is a serious issue,” Gilchrist told dealers. “This means we have to be better, and more creative, at running the rest of the store. We must adapt to this reality to survive in this new world.”
Connected to dealer profitability on new vehicles is affordability for consumers, a point NADA has made repeatedly in recent months and that Gilchrist hit head on in a recent Q&A with WardsAuto.com.
A sizable contingent of Washington area dealers went to the NADA Show, where WANADA’s Time Dealer and Northwood Dealer were honored. On Friday evening, WANADA staged a grand reception with its sister associations, MADA and VADA. (See Receptions report below.)Download Bulletin PDF