In late December Jonathan Smoke, NADA’s chief economist wrote that the era of cheap auto loans is behind us. Interest rates are rising again, he says – averaging 6.3 percent for new and 10 percent for used in November. New cars, meanwhile, are getting more expensive – the average retail price of a new light vehicle in December was $37,577 according to Kelley Blue Book. Wholesale used cars also continued to get pricier – the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index rose 4.3 percent in December compared to the same month in 2017, according to Cox Automotive.
While retails sales of new light vehicle inched up only 0.5 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year, said Cox, fleet sales surged seven percent in 2018 compared to the previous years, led by an 8.8 percent jump in commercial fleet sales.
It makes for a challenging market for car dealers, but they are finding ways to keep customers coming back for more. This week, we profile one of those dealers. Beth Beans Gilbert talks with me about Fred Beans Family of Dealerships’ AutoRewards program, an innovative way to boost new cars sales and business at the group’s collision centers. Read more in this issue.
Also this week, we have part two in The Rawls Group’s series on millennial employees. This week’s column suggests ways to attract them and keep them engaged. I might also add getting them to show up at all even after being hired, given the rash of stories I have recently read regarding millennials “ghosting” employers. Google it to find out more if you don’t already know what that means.
And we have Transaction News.