Nicholas Stanutz, chairman of the Consumer Bankers Association automotive finance committee, must have been thinking about the Oscars and the Emmys when he wrote his tongue-in-cheek welcoming speech for the group's Automobile Finance Conference in Orlando, Fla., on March 13. The speech went something like this abbreviated version:
One thing we learned when the industry sold 17.3 million cars and light trucks last year, is that What Women Want are import-manufactured cars. Those imports were like Hannibal, eating away at the market share of the domestics.
Oldsmobile became a Castaway division for GM.
And what about DaimlerChrysler? That merger was thought up by The Wedding Planner, Juergen Schrempp. I bet at Chrysler they wish they had been The Runaway Bride.
And as automotive dot-coms merge or go out of business, declining consumer confidence, rising delinquencies, and rising charge-offs, a lot of debtors are waking up in the morning and saying, Dude, Where's My Car?
Then we had The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, when the new Automotive Lease Guide books came out and cut residual values. Few of us had The Sixth Sense to see those lower residuals coming. Leasing used to look more like 'Temptation Island' for manufacturers, dealers and lenders. Some of them found their profits were Gone in 60 Seconds. Leasing is now a game of 'Survivor,' where many lessors have voted themselves off the island.
Some of us have had the unpleasant experience of explaining residual value losses to CEOs. Say It Isn't So is the most common response. But if even an unlikely participant like Rudy can survive in the South China Sea, then we can, too.