Tag Archive | "National Automobile Dealers Association"

McConnell Ready to Lead NADA in 2014


New Orleans – Although new-car dealers continue to face a host of challenges from the government and industry, Forrest McConnell, III, 2014 chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), said dealers are risk-takers and they can rely on NADA just as he and his family have done for generations.

“NADA is working through some of the toughest regulatory and legislative challenges that Washington throws at us,” said McConnell, in keynote remarks at the NADA Convention & Expo in New Orleans last week. “Many of you know that the government has been trying to impose more regulations over our $783 billion finance market. Why? Because they don’t understand our business. Eighty percent of customers come to us because our financing system is convenient and competitive. We provide credit avenues that they didn’t even know existed. NADA will keep hammering Washington that dealers don’t add to customers’ credit costs. We save our customer’s money. Period.”

McConnell, who began serving on NADA’s board in 2008, outlined some of association’s industry efforts, including meeting with 30 manufacturers at least twice a year and analyzing the responses from NADA’s Dealer Attitude Survey.

“It’s important that our manufacturers understand and respect what we do. We buy their products. We invest billions in capital. We absorb many of their costs,” he said. “We build expensive facilities, but it’s important we build true partnerships with our manufacturers, too. Manufacturers who have good relationships with dealers have a strong advantage over others who don’t.”

McConnell highlighted how the family business in auto retailing began in 1919 when his grandfather and father opened dealerships in Montgomery, Ala. They joined NADA in 1940. Today, McConnell runs McConnell Honda/Acura with his brother, William. “As a dealer, I can tell you that in the years I’ve been with NADA, they’ve really helped me succeed,” he said.

Although there have been an array of challenges, NADA has always supported dealers’ efforts as they strive for success. He encouraged attendees to continue to take risks, as he and countless others have done. “NADA will always be here to take care of the things that sidetrack you from your life,” he said. “So push back the fear. Take the leap. We got your back.”

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ADESA Auction at NADA Convention Raises $27,000 for Canine Companions Wounded Veterans Initiative


New Orleans – For the second consecutive year, Joe Verde, president of the Joe Verde Group in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., was the top bidder on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle auctioned by ADESA at the National Automobile Dealers Association Convention & Expo.

Verde’s winning bid of $27,000 for the 2013 Heritage Softail Classic Anniversary Edition will be added to a $10,000 grant from the National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation, which was presented to the Wounded Veterans Initiative of Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). CCI trains companion dogs for wounded veterans, a cause long supported by the nation’s new-car and -truck dealers. The “vintage bronze/black” model (No. 1546 of 1900 produced) was donated by ADESA, which runs vehicle auctions throughout North America.

“These wounded veterans give so much. We really appreciate the NADA Foundation for making us aware of Canine Companions and for giving us the opportunity to contribute to such a worthy cause,” said Verde, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam.

This is the third year ADESA has held a live auction at the NADA convention. Proceeds from the auction and the grant go to the NADA Foundation’s Frank E. McCarthy Memorial Fund, in whose name the CCI donation is made. McCarthy was chief executive of NADA from 1968 to 2001.

U.S. Air Force veteran Jason Morgan, who is paralyzed from the waist down, and his service dog Napal, a black Labrador retriever, represented CCI at both events. “When you go through a disability like mine, it completely changes your life in every way,” Morgan said. “As a veteran, Napal is the biggest contributor to my well-being and my way of life since my injury 14 years ago.”

Morgan was injured when his vehicle was ambushed during a special operations narcotics mission in South America.

The ADESA auctions have raised $71,000 for the NADA Foundation and Canine Companions for Independence. “What an amazing auction. I want to take this opportunity to personally thank our customers and NADA attendees for their support and generosity,” said Tim Zierden, ADESA senior vice president of dealer services. “Each year the event grows. I am honored we are all able to support such a great cause like Canine Companions for Independence.”

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NADA Defends In-Dealership Financing


New Orleans – Despite an auto sales turnaround over the past year, new-car dealers still face major industry and regulatory challenges, said David Westcott, the outgoing chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA).

“Last year, we faced a new threat to dealer-assisted financing and our business model,” said Westcott, in remarks at the 2014 NADA Convention & Expo in New Orleans last week. “In-dealership financing has been enormously successful in increasing access to auto credit, and reducing the cost for millions of Americans. Consumers overwhelmingly choose dealer-assisted financing because it’s convenient and affordable.”

Last March, however, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued “guidance” to indirect auto lenders alleging that the industry has engaged in unintentional, statistical discrimination against protected minority classes. “Now let me be clear: our industry strongly opposes any form of discrimination in any aspect of our business. Discrimination is just wrong and illegal,” added Westcott, a Buick-GMC dealer in Burlington, N.C. “If a federal agency is making allegations that discrimination exists in our industry, it should have to explain itself, and it needs to be transparent with the public.”

Congress has weighed in many times, and representatives and senators from both sides of the aisle are asking the CFPB to answer some very basic questions, he said. “If the CFPB gets its way, what happens? Consumers will lose the ability to see if dealers can ‘meet or beat’ an offer from their own bank,” Westcott added. “This will harm competition. This will harm customers. And the customers who will suffer the most are those who have the least.”

Westcott urged individual dealers and dealer associations to keep engaging and informing their members of Congress on the issue. “Our message is simple: the CFPB’s effort to coerce the industry into adopting flat fees will harm the car buying public,” he said. “Rest assured that NADA will continue to lead the charge and defend in-dealership financing.”

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Former NADA Chairman Ron Tonkin Dies at 82


Via Automotive News

Ron Tonkin, the Oregon auto dealer who crusaded against overbearing factories while president of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) in 1989 died at age 82.

Tonkin, who founded the Ron Tonkin Family of Dealerships in Portland, Ore., died Friday of end-stage renal failure, according to the Web site for The Oregonian newspaper.

Tonkin became known as a firebrand for dealers for his forceful pushback against automakers during his one-year leadership of NADA beginning in February 1989. While president of the dealers’ association, Tonkin railed against manufacturers’ fleet subsidies, retail rebates, cost transfers and mandatory advertising association memberships. In founding a group of dealers called the Rough Riders, he encouraged dealers to resist manufacturers’ attempts to force excess inventories onto dealership lots.

During a stirring opening address at the 1990 NADA convention, Tonkin announced he was suing Chrysler, Ford, General Motors and Toyota over fleet subsidies. He accused the manufacturers of unfairly paying fleet incentives that allowed the car rental companies to buy vehicles at prices below dealer invoice. That lawsuit ultimately was settled out of court. At that 1990 convention, Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca followed Tonkin on the NADA stage and good-naturedly referred to Tonkin as a “pain in the ass.”

In addition to Tonkin’s preaching to dealers on stage, he also wrote a letter to NADA members urging them to lower their inventories to send a message to the automakers. “What we did best was draw visibility to the issues that confronted dealers and concerned consumers,” Tonkin said later about his turn as NADA’s leader.

But such actions ultimately drew the attention of the U.S. Justice Department, which in 1994 began an investigation into alleged antitrust activities by NADA and its presidents dating back to Tonkin. In 1995, NADA agreed to a settlement. Though it admitted no wrongdoing, the association promised not to engage in antitrust activities and agreed to 10 years of Justice Department monitoring.

Tonkin opened his first dealership, Ron Tonkin Chevrolet, in 1960, according to the dealership group’s Web site, which also said he became the country’s first Ferrari dealer in 1966. Today, the group operates 16 dealerships representing 15 brands. It ranks No. 98 on the Automotive News list of the top 125 dealership groups in the United States, with new retail sales of 8,291 vehicles in 2012.

“I don’t know if I’d be good at anything else,” Tonkin said in a 1996 interview. “But I do know that I can turn a dealership around, get it selling cars, get it making money again.”

Tonkin stepped back from day-to-day oversight of the dealership group after a prostate cancer scare in the mid-’90s. Sons Ed and Brad have operated the franchises since then.

Ed Tonkin followed in his father’s footsteps as head of NADA – the title had changed to chairman – in 2010. He lauded his father’s legacy at the time.

“My dad was a phenomenal NADA president,” Ed Tonkin told Automotive News. “Critical times call for critical measures. At that time, the dealers were really getting beat up with fleet subsidies, and he was the cause that really put an end to that. He really made a mark.”

In 2006, Tonkin summed up his view on the franchise system. “There is no better way,” he said. “The automakers that produce the cars are really not good at selling them. Every time they have made an attempt, it has resulted in failure. It’s a different side of the business. They have to make them, and we have to sell them. The automobile industry is like a three-legged milk stool: the unions, auto manufacturers and the dealers. Remove any one of the legs and the stool falls over.”

A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 21, at 2 p.m. PST at Congregation Beth Israel in Portland, according to the Web site of Holman’s Funeral Service.

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House Passes Bill to Reduce Dealership Paperwork


Washington, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation aimed at repealing what the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) describes as an unnecessary paperwork burden on small business auto dealerships.

The bill, H.R. 724, eliminates an outdated federal mandate requiring auto dealers to certify that new vehicles are compliant with the Clean Air Act. The NADA strongly supports this bipartisan legislation, which now heads to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

“All new cars and trucks are Clean Air Act compliant before they leave the factory, so requiring dealerships to complete a form essentially re-certifying these vehicles is unnecessary,” said David Westcott, chairman of NADA and a Buick and GMC dealer in Burlington, N.C.

Westcott added that new car and truck buyers can find documentation certifying that a vehicle is Clean Air Act compliant under the hood of the vehicle, on the Internet or in the owner’s manual and supplements, making additional government paperwork given by the dealer superfluous.

The bill, introduced by Reps. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) repeals an obsolete 1977 law.

“NADA commends Reps. Latta and Peters for their bipartisan leadership to eliminate this redundant mandate on small business,” Westcott added.

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Compliance, Technology to Headline Vehicle Finance Conference


Washington — Thought leaders from across the vehicle finance industry will share their expertise at the American Financial Services Association (AFSA)’s 18th Annual Vehicle Finance Conference and Exposition, scheduled for Jan. 22-24, 2014, at the Sheraton in New Orleans. This year’s theme is “Navigating the New Normal.”

The conference will kick off with a macro-level examination of industry trends by John Gray, president, of Experian Automotive, Michael Buckingham, senior director of automotive finance for J.D. Power & Associates and Sarah Watt House, economist for Wells Fargo Securities LLC. Experts from research, strategy and vehicle finance firms will also delve into technology innovations, how to connect with younger generations, relationship management and risk management.

Bob Lutz, retired vice chairman of General Motors, will be at the conference to share key lessons he learned over his 47-year career. He will also identify best practices during his keynote address.

The conference will feature Patrice Ficklin, assistant director for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)’s Office of Fair Lending. She will discuss the bureau’s approach to regulation and compliance based on the fair lending bulletin it issued in March 2013.

The conference will also feature a candid panel discussion among vehicle finance CEOs. Feature participants will include Daniel Berce, president and CEO of GM Financial, Thasunda Brown Duckett, CEO of Chase Auto Finance and Mike Groff, president and CEO of Toyota Financial Services. In addition, four leaders from the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) will share the dealer perspective in the “Top Issues for Dealers in 2014” session.

The conference will close with a look forward from Sheryl Connelly, Global Consumer Trends and Futuring Manager for Ford Motor Co. She will discuss probable shifts in consumer values, attitudes and behaviors.

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