ORLANDO -- Rising interest rates, fragile consumer confidence and lukewarm demand still threaten the first green shoots of a recovery in auto lending. But lenders are having an easier time raising funds -- a prerequisite to a continued recovery.
Taking those factors together, cautious optimism -- emphasis on the "cautious" -- was the watch-phrase for major auto lenders on a CEO panel at the American Financial Services Association Vehicle Finance Conference & Exposition, held in February in conjunction with the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Orlando.
Executives for two captive finance companies, Ford Motor Credit Co. and Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp., plus one bank-based auto lender, Wachovia Dealer Services, generally agreed that 2009 appears to have been the bottom of the current business cycle.
"We see 2009 as a real transitional year," said John Noone, Ford Credit president for global marketing and sales.