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Cox Names New Chief Economist, Launches Insights Division

April 18, 2017

Cox Automotive Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke
Cox Automotive Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke

ATLANTA — Jonathan Smoke joins Cox Automotive as chief economist and will lead the creation of an economic industry insights office, the company announced Tuesday. Smoke succeeds Tom Webb, who is retiring June 30, and Cox officials said his office will be tasked with leveraging data to expand the company’s expertise in all aspects of the automotive industry.

A 21-year veteran of the housing industry, Smoke is said to be skilled in translating data and trends into relevant, actionable insights. Most recently, Smoke served as Realtor.com’s chief economist. Prior to that, he was the chief economist for Hanley Wood, a media and market intelligence company, and also served in a variety of roles at Beazer Homes, including senior vice president of strategy and innovation.

“Jonathan will provide a fresh perspective as he offers analysis on the automotive industry and the economic and market trends that affect our clients’ business,” said Sandy Schwartz, president of Cox Automotive. “Many parallels exist between the automotive and real estate industries, and Jonathan is perfectly positioned to offer actionable intelligence that will benefit our clients.”

Last year, Smoke was named one of the 21 “most interesting” people in real estate by Inman News and was the only economist to make the list. He is frequently quoted in national news outlets and has published more than 150 original articles. Smoke will continue to blog regularly and will tweet using his new Twitter handle @SmokeonCars to share his industry insights. Smoke holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and religious studies from Rhodes College and a master’s degree in business from the University of Texas at Austin.

“I’ve spent my career working with data to improve the understanding of market trends and how demand and supply come together in purchases that represent the largest investments most consumers make,” Smoke said. “I will help the company lead the industry with data-driven insights into what is happening and what the future holds. From wholesale to retail, new to used, manufacturer to dealer to consumer, I couldn’t ask for a better venue for visibility into the automotive marketplace.”

Cox Automotive also announced that Charlie Chesbrough is joining the company as senior economist and senior director of industry insights. Chesbrough previously served as executive director and senior economist for Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA). Prior to joining OESA, Chesbrough was the senior principal economist and director of industry analysis at IHS Automotive, where he was responsible for developing and integrating statistical models and economic scenarios into global automotive forecasts.

Chesbrough brings more than 25 years of experience in market planning, demand forecast modeling and consumer research for Fortune 500 companies across many industries. Reporting to Smoke and based in Detroit, he will assist in the creation and development of the new Cox Automotive economic industry insights office. In addition, he will direct the company’s automotive forecasts as well as manage the economic industry insights related to the new-car sector, according to the company.

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