Chairman of National Automobile Dealers Association: ‘Good time’ to shop for a car
At a February convention near Florida’s Disney World, car dealer David Westcott will take on the 2013 chairmanship of the biggest group representing U.S. car dealers – the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA). Westcott, owner of David Westcott Buick GMC Suzuki in Burlington, N.C., has been selling new cars since 1981.
“All dealers face many challenges today,” Westcott said when his appointment as chairman was announced. “I’m looking forward to working with all dealers, large and small, to keep our industry growing and prospering.”
InsuranceQuotes.com caught up with Westcott to pick up tips and insight on buying a car.
What can consumers expect from the new-car market in 2013?
Low interest rates on auto loans, an aging fleet of vehicles on the road that need to be replaced, declining gasoline prices and exciting new vehicles on display at U.S. auto shows are all positive signs for the auto industry. Paul Taylor, our chief economist, predicts that new-car sales in 2013 will be better than 2012, up nearly 1 million in cars and light trucks. The theme of the 2013 NADA convention is “Momentum.” We expect to build on the momentum that the industry is experiencing this year, where new-car sales continue to lead a slow but steady economic recovery.
What advice do you have for consumers looking to buy a new car?
It’s a good time to shop for a new car or truck. Financing rates on auto loans are highly competitive right now. The product, such as vehicle quality and design, is the best it’s ever been. And trade-in values on many vehicles are higher than average. The Internet provides car shoppers with an abundance of information, comparing different makes and models and prices at competing dealerships. Once your research is complete, then it’s time to visit a dealership to take a test drive, check out the safety features firsthand and kick the tires.
When it comes to financing, there are several consumer-friendly websites, such as www.autofinancing101.org, which was developed by AWARE (Americans Well-informed on Automobile Retailing Economics) that provide guidance for car buyers when navigating the auto loan process. AWARE recommends that car buyers compare important credit terms, including the annual percentage rate (APR), at competing banks and credit unions and see whether the dealer can meet or beat those terms.
How has the car-buying experience changed for consumers in the past 10 years? And how do you see it evolving in the coming decade?
Dealers are using social media to engage their customers, especially mobile shoppers, through special promotions and sales events to booking service appointments. These technologies offer dealerships an exciting way to connect and build trust with prospects and customers like never before.
In today’s world, technology is changing so fast, it’s often difficult to predict changes over the next six months. Several years ago, our customers used to come into the dealership to look at new cars to figure out what vehicles they wanted. Today, they know what they want before coming into the showroom. Technology is continuing to change almost everything the dealer does — where to advertise, selecting inventory and how to deliver cars. It’s an exciting time to be a dealer.
How has the used-car market changed most significantly in the last decade? And what advice do you have for consumers looking to buy a used car?
One key element has been the steady growth in sales of manufacturer certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles, which provides car shoppers with a lot of value and affordability. CPO vehicles typically return to the market with low miles, are a couple of years old, receive multipoint inspections and are still under factory warranty. Another positive trend for consumers is higher trade-in values, which were elevated by the tight supply of used vehicles caused during the recession. Our advice for used car shoppers is to be smart — compare prices of new, CPO and used models and makes, check for warranties, shop financing rates, and make the purchase from a reputable dealer or retailer.