Dealer associations convene on public policy, govt relations and the franchise system

Dealer associations convene on public policy, govêt relations and the franchise system

New auto dealer associations making up the Automotive Trade Associations network (ATAE) came together last week in Chicago to focus on state and national level public policy initiatives for their automotive retailer members in the context of external industry relations with the government; internal industry relations between OEMs and dealers; the integrity of the franchise system; and plaintiffsê lawyer- inspired consumer protection initiatives. WANADA was in attendance for the two day conference along with sister dealer associations from states and major metropolitan areas across the U.S. and Canada. NADAês legislative, regulatory and legal teams were on hand, working in tandem with ATAE coordinators on the agenda, joined by AIADA and NAMAD representatives.

Specific issues covered were the following:

1. The Tesla- inspired challenge to state licensing laws governing the retailers of motor vehicles was presented as Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania this year came to terms with Tesla and the respective dealer associations in those jurisdictions as the high end , electric car maker continues its ongoing state- by- state quest to retail its cars without dealers in violation most vehicle retail sale requirements.

2. With the massive GM recalls as a backdrop, the rules of engagement for vehicle recalls were front and center with respect to dealer rights and obligations. And not surprisingly, consumer advocates, with their plaintiffsê lawyer associates, were out and about in the states looking to legislatures to broaden recall liability to older used cars where lost paper work and/or unresponsive prior owners would leave the vehicle without recall repairs opening the door to regulatory agency reprisals and plaintiffsê lawyer suits against dealers.

3. Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB)•s position that minorities are discriminated against in dealerships when they apply for auto financing continues to have ATAE and the national dealer organization concerned . First and foremost, NADA is focused on providing dealers with staff programs to ensure that the dealer can document that they do not discriminate against minorities in arranging credit for auto sales. The related issue is the banks and finance companies CFPB regulates, with the threat of regulatory reprisal against them, to ensure the bankês dealer partners donêt discriminate. How so? By lowering or flattening the compensation the dealer gets as a credit arranger from the bank, CFPB says. CFPB continues to be unresponsive to scrutiny of their regulatory methodology which has caused NADA to introduce legislation in Congress (HR 5403), that to date has garnered bipartisan support, to compel CFPB to be more transparent and accountable as a regulatory agency.

4. The impact of state right to repair laws enabling independent repair facilities to access OEM service protocols that were once the exclusive domain of dealer service departments was reviewed.

5. The implications of the withdrawal of the lawsuit by OEM members of the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers filed several years ago against the state of Florida and Florida auto dealers on a second generation warranty reimbursement bill that passed into law were considered , principally because of the constitutional questions the OEMs raised relative to their being held to a standard where they could not treat Florida dealers differently than dealers in other states.

6. A final matter discussed was the dealerês obligation to keep private secure and private customer information and the new challenge in this regard presented through on board vehicle telematics.

ATAE and NADA come together several times per year in forums like the aforementioned Chicago Law and Legislative Conference to consider government relations and public policy. These include the recently concluded NADA Washington Conference; the Annual ATAE Summer Conference; and the ATAE Annual Meeting at the NADA Convention. Focus groups include the Auto Shows of North America; the ATAE Insurance Programming Meeting; the ATAE Event Planners Meeting; and new next month, the PR and Communications Symposium. Included in the ATAE network, too, are meetings of all four ATAE Regions, covering Northeast, Southern, the Midwest and the West. The Chicago Law and Legislation Conference was immediately followed by the ATAE Region I that covers the Northeast of which WANADA is a part. The ATAE Region meetings typically focus on dealer association programs and projects that can be shared among the participants.

In total, the ATAE network, including NADA, consists of about 90 dealer association in the U.S. and Canada.

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