Guiding NADA through a busy 2016 reminded Jeff Carlson of when he had to manually land his plane when his cockpit's electrical system failed.
Carlson, NADA's 2016 chairman, told an audience at the convention Friday that he faced a crucial decision that day several years ago, without any navigational assistance or radio. He either had to turn around and land or proceed to the next airport 12 miles away.
"Pilot training always dictates that you choose the right course. So you must always plan for the best but prepare for the worst. After a quick mental note of emergency procedures, I went for it. I turned around," Carlson said. "Without panicking, I made it in safely without destroying my equipment or anything in the area."
Carlson said his year as chairman was a lot like that "fast and thrilling" day, requiring the group to act with precision on a host of issues ranging from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau dealer oversight to historic recalls.
Carlson lauded NADA's efforts in fighting what he said were burdensome regulations and oversight, noting the group's efforts in protecting dealer-assisted financing and fighting back against CFPB oversight of auto dealers.
"Holding the line against the CFPB means their next target, ancillary products, isn't going to happen any time soon," he said.
Carlson also noted NADA's push against stop-sales of vehicles with open recalls, a topic that gained prominence last year in part because of vehicles recalled after the Takata airbag inflator scandal.
He said NADA must continue to put pressure on lawmakers and regulators to keep vehicle prices affordable in 2017, especially as fuel economy standards and tax reform potentially come to the forefront of discussion.