After partying in Fort Lauderdale for most of Covid, cars dealers from across the country flocked to Las Vegas for their first live conference since the start of the pandemic. NADA, or the National Automobile Dealers Association, is widely known as the largest automotive industry event of the year.
Last year's 2021 NADA Show was an all virtual affair due to concerns over safety, and because COVID-19 hates the automotive industry. Car Talk has been watching the videos from that 2021 conference. There's so much incredible content to soak up, the most notable piece being the speech given by the 2021 NADA Chairman, Paul Walser, in which he talks at length about the importance of diversity and inclusion, online and digital experience, dealer and OEM relations, shortening transaction times and promoting transparency in pricing.
When Car Talk found out that the NADA Show was coming back in full force this year, and being held in Las Vegas, no less, we immediately started hatching an elaborate plan to sneak into the conference. We had all our schematics and Mission Impossible theme music queued up when our Editorial team decided to just reach out to NADA and see if we could get tickets to the conference in the normal way. To our surprise, Car Talk was granted press passes to the 2022 NADA conference. I know, we couldn't believe it either.
We jumped on this opportunity to enjoy the grandeur and decadence of the non-reclining economy class flight on Spirit Airlines to Sin City to be part of this expansive automotive event, with the understanding that the company can only afford the $10 all-you-can-eat shrimp and steak buffet at the second-rate off-strip casinos, of course.
Like locusts with cabin fever, dealership representatives from across the country promptly descended upon the newly built Las Vegas Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium. Once inside, we were taken aback by the wealth of offerings and organization of the events. Car Talk was elated to see that for some wonderful reason, Doc Brown and Marty McFly were selling their DeLorean.
Honestly, Car Talk has never been so happy to see such effort. If a car has to be from 1985, it should at least be a Delorean.
The creators of this epic display even had the presence of mind to run to the nearest FedEx Kinko’s in order to make a nice banner out of the Delorean's CarFAX report. Car Talk is a big fan of getting vehicle reports and maintaining all the records for your car (especially if it is also a time machine), so we were thrilled to read through this awesome document. The report was so detailed, it showed the years in which the car traveled, ranging from 1955, 1885 and all the way up to its current owner in 2021. The report showed all the pertinent information you should look for in your CarFAX report, including two lightning strikes, damage due to collision with a scarecrow in 1955 and fuel source listed as plutonium and lightning.
While we loved seeing the Delorean, we were a little perplexed about why Marty and Doc decided to start doing push ups and various calisthenics. What was perfectly understandable, however, were the Las Vegas Raider cheerleaders offering to pose for pictures with car dealers from Idaho.
Going back the next day, Car Talk decided to take a look at Elon Musk’s amazing invention, Teslas in a tunnel. This new offering is basically low capacity mass transportation at its best and most luxurious. This impressive $50 million dollar project opened this past year. So, basically, while all of us were watching Tiger King and sheltering in place, Elon Musk was busy creating stuff. Such an overachiever, that guy.
Fortunately for us all, the Tesla Loop is directly underneath the convention hall where the NADA Show was being held. Instead of trains or a hyperloop, Tesla cars were zipping back and forth in the tunnel.
Unfortunately for us, some darn Tesla was broken down inside one of the tunnels on this particular day. The Tesla in question was blocking all traffic in one direction and the tunnels were just big enough for one car to squeeze through. Slight design flaw in an otherwise awesome idea. The cool thing to note here was that the tunnel glowed red, much like how I imagine Dante’s entrance to hell might have appeared. The other tunnels glowed a heavenly turquoise blue. We didn’t see anyone waiting for the electric tow truck to arrive.
I wonder whether or not Tesla will write into Dear Car Talk to ask about what might be wrong with that Tesla in the tunnel. Come on… It could happen!
The second day of the conference, Car Talk's team was a little exhausted. Having just experienced the first day of the conference, and the first night meeting with all the attendees and bopping around Vegas until the sun came up, we found the second day a little overwhelming.
While trying to drink a lot of water and keep hydrated, we listened to excellent speakers, including the first female Thunderbird fighter pilot, Col. Nicole Malachowski. She spoke with clarity and grace about the challenges she faced and overcoming obstacles to achieve your objectives. We are still not sure what a fighter pilot has to do with cars, but her speech was uplifting and excellent regardless. Other notable speakers for the weekend included a race car driver, a professional skydiver, a cybersecurity specialist and the first female NFL official. A very eclectic line up.
The biggest moment of the day was the mega announcement from Google. The tech giant is going to integrate car listings in the search results for users before the organic search results appear. In other words, if you’re looking for a Ford F-150, Google will have F-150 car ads in your area, with pictures and prices appearing on your search, so you don’t have to click through to other car listing sites. Since most people in the world go to Google for their search results, this was a pretty big announcement for the automotive industry. There are a lot of possible ramifications to this new step from Google, especially since the car-buying industry is leaning more towards digital experiences every day. This is definitely something Car Talk will keep its eyes on.
Back on the convention show floor, there was another very cool event going on. Backlot Cars Charity Auction was underway, complete with a few canine attendees for the day. Many of the who’s who of the dealership world were there including a half dozen dogs from Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit organization that provides highly trained service dogs for people with disabilities. On auction was a 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder originally driven by James Dean. Actually, what a minute, no. That would make too much sense. It was actually a brand new Harley Davidson LiveWire One electric motorcycle. The auction raised an impressive $108,720 in one day with their event. It was great to see a healthy amount raised for such a good cause, and also, we just love dogs at Car Talk.
One of the pressing questions Car Talk had going into the NADA conference is when will car inventories get back to normal, pre-pandemic levels. Many of the attendees had the same question. Enter a company called NCM. This company is not well known outside of the automotive industry. They assemble data from dealers and do roundtables to share information about where things are thriving and where they are definitely not. The company is run by a great group of intellectual statisticians and math geniuses. Basically, they have all the secret automotive data in one place.
NCM even has a top secret file that explains how Car Talk has been able to trick the industry into thinking we know what we're doing and remain on the air for so long. We are hoping they will share that one with us sometime soon.
Since Covid hit and the car inventories have been struggling, dealers and manufacturers have actually been making more money from car sales now than before. It’s simple supply and demand, it seems. Car Talk spoke to a lot of different people during the conference. Some insiders think this will go away after the chip shortage is resolved, but others think the situation will stay this way forever now that the industry has had a taste of what constrained supply looks like, and how much consumers will pay, if they have to. For the car buyer, it seems that unless you’re willing to wait another year or two to buy a car, you’re gonna be paying a lot more because it might not be going back to normal anytime soon.
In general, Car Talk had a lovely time at the 2022 NADA conference. We met a lot of interesting people and learned about some incredible companies. Some moments were a little overwhelming and confusing, but we are easily confused over here at Car Talk. We found ourselves wondering how in the world we scored an invitation to such a grand event.
We are very hopeful to be invited back in the future. And maybe next year, perhaps the 2023 NADA organizers will consider Car Talk Editorial for the roles of Marty McFly and Doc Brown. Please? Come on. Please?