Each month, the Auto Finance News team strives to provide our readers with dynamic, in-depth feature reporting. This year, COVID-19 has not only dominated headlines, but profoundly changed the auto finance industry.
Here are the editors’ favorite features of the year.
Prior to COVID, many lenders balked at the idea of a major economic recession. But the downturn spurred by the pandemic shaped up to be a different kind of beast, and the liquidity of automakers and their captives became that much important to the long-term financial health of the sector in order to prevent a repeat of the Great Recession.
When the pandemic hit the U.S. in March, auto dealerships and manufacturing plants were closed for nearly a month. Consumers still shopping for cars looked online and, while dealerships have been improving their digital products for years, COVID-19 became a catalyst for potentially changing the customer-dealer dynamic for the long term. Lenders may need to adjust to offer more streamlined options for financing online, and dealerships may become locations where customers complete their vehicle purchases rather than begin the process.
For the second annual Executive of the Year feature, the AFN editorial team profiled Ravi Ragu, executive vice president of Capital One Auto Finance’s dealer business. We spotlighted Raghu’s leadership style, the positive performance of the auto lender in the face of the COVID-19 economic crisis, and the inner workings under the hood that led to the strong year.
In auto finance, inclusion and diversity have recently been prioritized as lenders work to bridge the gaps in racial, ethnic and gender equality. The success of such an undertaking will require the sustained effort of every lender in the auto finance community, as they address change within their own corporate cultures and in how they provide services in diverse communities.
The pandemic has accelerated OEMs’ investments in electric vehicle technology as investor appetite for equities in EV companies, such as Tesla, surged in the market. But captives have long been taking steps to protect their OEMs’ investments in the EV frontier.