For Patrick Altes, business is brisk. His company repossesses vehicles in north and central Florida for banks and credit unions.
Altes seizes vehicles of all sorts. But lately he has been repossessing pricey brands such as BMW, Lexus, Hummer and big Ford trucks.
"When times were good, home builders and construction and concrete people bought brand-new Ford F-350 crew cabs and diesels," Altes told Automotive News. "Then the housing market collapsed. Now we're getting a lot of luxury vehicles from real estate salespeople and mortgage brokers."
The battered U.S. auto industry is poised to set a negative record in 2008: Most vehicles repossessed in a year — about 1.9 million.
That's bad news for the owners of those cars and trucks and the lenders who are losing billions of dollars from financing them. And it's bad news for dealers who could have trouble getting customers financed if they sell a large percentage of vehicles that are later repossessed.