Wade, a multi-franchise dealer from St. George, Utah, took the helm of NADA at the association’s annual Convention & Expo in San Francisco. The convention, which began Saturday and ends today, is expected to draw about 18,000 total attendees.
“It finally feels like we’re headed in the right direction,” Wade said. “Manufacturers are producing great product. Sales are picking up. And consumer credit is improving.”
As the association’s vice-chairman in 2010, Wade had a front-row seat for the many legislative and regulatory battles that NADA and its grass-roots network waged on behalf of dealers.
Those successes, including NADA’s fight to keep dealer-assisted financing affordable and available for consumers, have poised dealers to thrive in 2011, Wade said, as sales pick up and consumers who have put off new-vehicle purchases head back to dealerships.
And even though NADA succeeded last year in protecting dealer-assisted financing from the new “burdensome and unnecessary” rules of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Wade says auto loans are still very much under attack.
“Going forward, we’ll work with Congress and the regulators to structure the bureau’s rules in a way that works in the real world and in a way that works for our customers.”
“When we are persistent all pulling together on the legislative front, marshalling our grass-roots efforts around the nation with one common goal, we can achieve the impossible,” Wade said. “We need to push legislation that helps boost the economy, encourages auto sales and creates jobs.”
Still, dealers face a flurry of new challenges in 2011, Wade said, such as facing the possibility of a new program to raise the fleet-average fuel economy standard to as high as 62 mpg by 2025, a plan Wade called “a stretch.”
As dealers come back from one of the industry’s toughest periods, Wade said, “We need fewer pressures on profitability, not more.”
Wade takes the helm of NADA from 2010 Chairman Ed Tonkin, whose term ended Monday.