The 9th annual Conference of Automotive Remarketing (CAR), known throughout the industry as the consignor’s show, attracted 409 remarketers Jan. 21-23 at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas.

Attendees included a who’s who of remarketers representing 14 auto manufacturers, 26 financial institutions, 12 major car-rental companies, nine of the 10 largest fleet management companies, major auction chains, and independent auctions.

Opening day keynote speaker, Don Esmond, senior vice president and general manager, Toyota Division, presented “The Perfect Storm,” a recap of the events that swamped the used-car business with stagnant prices, overly optimistic residual projections, and a deluge of off-lease vehicles.

Esmond predicted a rebound in used-vehicle values as a result of the decreasing number of off-lease vehicles entering the wholesale market, rising consumer confidence, an improving national economy, and the country’s growing population. In addition, he cited the growth in high-income households with greater discretionary income and the increase in the number of vehicles owned by the average family.

Esmond revealed that Toyota is forecasting 2004 calendar year sales of 16.9-17 million units. “This would tie the third-best sales year ever,” he said. Esmond also stated that 17 million new-vehicle sales will become the new industry norm, with peaks in the 20-million range. “Since used-vehicle sales are two-and-a-half times as large as new-vehicle sales, this would represent annual sales of 50 million used vehicles.” Currently, annual used-vehicle sales are in the 40-million-unit range.

National sales director for eBay Motors, lunch keynote speaker Rob Chesney outlined the growth of eBay Motors and described remarketers’ successful efforts in selling used vehicles from the consumer Web site.

The second day keynote, Chip Perry, president and CEO of, said that 13 automotive brands now used the site, with 16,000 participating dealers and 239,000 registered vehicles, an increase of more than 20 percent over the prior year. Perry reported that usage increased more than 20 percent over the prior year.

Other CAR presenters included: Jeff Heichel, GM; Mike McHale, GMAC; Linda Silverstein, Ford; Keith Helfrich, DaimlerChysler; Kent Pace, Toyota Financial Services; Bob Graham, ARI; Layne Weber, Donlen; Dave Langley, American Honda Finance Corp.; Brent Sergot, CenterOne Financial Services; Steve Wallerstein, Subaru; and 53 other speakers.

Among the conference highlights were two prize giveaways. Jay Doyle, U.S. regional manager of TIQ TOQ won an Oceania Cruise to an “exotic destination of his choice” between Barcelona, Venice, and Rome, or the Greek Isles to Istanbul.

Michael Addison, president of Dealers Auto Exchange, won the prize “Own a Ranch for a Week.” Addison will “own” a dude ranch in Steamboat Springs, Colo., for an entire week of summertime activities as well as a private residence for up to eight people. Ranch activities will include horseback riding, ATV rides, party barge (pontoon boat), fishing, 2 1/2 days of white water rafting trips, passes to the Hot Springs Health and Fitness Club, nature walks, and elk and nature photo safaris.