When do you decide it’s the new normal, anyway? And what will it be? Perhaps we are doomed to spend the rest of our careers wearing masks, avoiding handshakes and taking Zoom calls from the bedroom.

I sincerely doubt that. But the truth is that no one is entirely sure what the future holds. At Credit Union Leasing of America, we navigated those initial dark days by staying flexible and concentrating on the big picture. Since then, we’ve thrived through the “COVID normal,” adjusted as life changed dramatically, redefined our approach and focused on the road ahead. During the initial rapid decline of wholesale values on vehicle lease returns, we extended leases and found outlets to remarket. We stayed focused through the rollercoaster of change that impacted everyone – and rallied to bring three major credit unions onto our program.

COVID-19 bears some similarities to the Great Recession: It happened suddenly, was unprecedented and has had far-reaching impacts. Whether you’re a professional, a parent, a consumer or all three, the pandemic has made it difficult to chart a course. Our credit union partners have battled through upheaval, from unheard-of home refinance volume and demand for recreational vehicle loans, to deferment requests and PPP loan applications – and all with branches closed or on skeleton crews. As we head into 2021, and as the ground beneath us begins to solidify, I believe automotive finance will be a strong and consistent player in that “new normal” – a part of the business credit unions will continue to count on. Here are a few of the lessons we’ve learned from credit unions and automotive partners:

Lesson 1: Be ­Optimistic About the Future of ­Automotive Finance

Six months ago at CULA, our world was all about vehicle lease extensions. With stay-at-home mandates closing dealerships, lessees facing imminent termination dates had few options for acquiring another vehicle. Today those vehicles with delayed returns are coming back, along with the ones already scheduled to return. In addition to the normal return cycle, there’s additional demand driven by the renewed importance of the personal vehicle.

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