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2003 NADA Convention Coverage

AutoExec Magazine

AutoExec Magazine

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NADA: Bill Ford Takes the Stage by TCC Team (1/31/2003)

The NADA convention is on in San Francisco, bringing dealers to the forefront of an auto industry in transition. Stay with TCC for more from NADA, and to get continuous coverage from the convention, click over


New-vehicle sales in 2003 will remain relatively strong—16.5 million units—because underlying economic factors are in better shape than most realize, said NADA chief economist Paul Taylor during his annual economic forecast presentation. (If the United States goes to war with Iraq, Taylor’s prediction falls to 16.3 million units.)

Why Taylor is optimistic about 2003:

• The number of vehicles per household continues to grow.

• Low mortgage interest rates are spurring homeowners to refinance, freeing up cash for vehicle purchases.

• Unemployment is still at "a reasonable rate."

• The dealer optimism index—considered a good indicator of new-vehicle sales—is relatively high; likewise consumer confidence levels.

• Economic growth is "reasonable."

• Net household wealth is growing.

Taylor also predicts a continued hot market for used vehicles, particularly certified. Light trucks, which now account for more than half of all new-vehicle sales, will continue to be swept along by the popularity of the smaller crossover utility vehicles (CUVs). And automakers will begin shifting from interest-rate incentives to cash incentives as rates begin to creep back up. —


The National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation (NADCF) today presented a check for $1 million to Scholarship America to aid families of September 11 victims. The money will be distributed to two funds.

One is the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to spouses and children of people killed or permanently disabled in the attacks, and which will pay out the money over the next 25 years. Whereas most of the contributions after September 11 were for immediate needs, the Families fund was designed to help with long-term needs, said Marilyn Rundell, Scholarship America’s vice-president of scholarship management services.

The second fund designated for NADCF’s contribution—the Families of Freedom 2: Building Futures Through Education Fund—provides scholarships for families who lost income because their Lower Manhattan businesses were destroyed or impaired.

All awards will be based on need.—


General Motors will update two existing minivan models and add two more for 2005, announced John Middlebrook, the automaker’s vice president and general manager of vehicle brand marketing. Speaking at the annual convention of the National Automobile Dealers Association, Middlebrook said the Chevrolet Venture and Pontiac Montana will be completely updated, while new models will be added, for the first time, to the Buick lineup. An all-new Saturn minivan is also on the way, which GM believes “will help us reach young buyers as well as import-oriented buyers.” The automaker believes the minivan market will stabilize, at about 1 million units annually, but it may also try some unusual design features to overcome resistance in the market to vehicles often derided as “Mom-mobiles.” Meanwhile, Middlebrook told dealers GM has also given the go-ahead to the Hummer H2 SUT. Short for Sport-Utility Truck, it’s a version of the big H2 ute with a short pickup bed on the back that was first shown on the auto show circuit in 2001.

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