WANADA Report spotlights strong market, regulator over reach, Public Policy Auto Show
In WANADAês report to the membership, incoming WANADA Chairman Charles Stringfellow reviewed the highlights of the past year. They included continued record recalls for defective Takata airbags, more regulatory overreach by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the triumph of the 2016 Washington Auto Show during a record snowstorm. Stringfellow spoke in place of outgoing Chairman Dick Patterson, who was recovering from a medical procedure (and reported to be doing well).
Stringfellow began on a positive note. Our auto industry is back where it was 15 years ago, with the promise of sales continuing to rise with a market stamina that defies gravity, and has proven to be a bright spot in an otherwise sluggish economy, he said.
But the industry has challenges. One is Teslaês ongoing effort to sell directly to the public. The high end automaker continues to run afoul of vehicle retail licensing laws in state after state including Virginia, Stringfellow said. These laws simply call for dealer retailers to package, deliver and service new cars for consumers no more, no less. Chinese automaker Geely, which owns Volvo, has said it may emulate Teslaês dealerless retail model.
No dealer of any brand can forget Volkswagenês illegal activity in intentionally sidestepping U.S. clean air equipment requirements, making much of its diesel fleet noncompliant. NADAês guidance to dealers on recalls has proved indispensable, Stringfellow said.
When manufacturers said that used cars had to be grounded, VADA and MADA, with WANADAês support, sprang into action. Virginia and Maryland passed model recall legislation specifying the automakersê obligations to their dealers and customers for the affected used cars. Dealer associations around the country enacted similar laws or are planning to do so.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has continued its effort to limit dealer-arranged loans, by pressuring the financial institutions it regulates to restrict their agreements with dealers arranging loans. The agency has told banks that dealers are systematically discriminating against minorities, who get less favorable loan rates a statement Stringfellow called rubbish.
NADA has succeeded in getting legislation passed in the House of Representatives that would reverse instructions CFPB gave the banks aimed at curtailing indirect financing by dealers, Stringfellow said. To accomplish that, NADA worked with groups including the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers. The dealer legislation has moved to the Senate and is being pushed by WANADA and other dealer associations across the country.
NADA and others have created a Fair Credit Compliance Policy Program offering best practices for dealers to use in the F&I department. WANADA, with Kindred-line member JM&A, continues to run invaluable best practice seminars regionally for F&I professionals in WANADA dealerships.
WANADA also offered dealer briefings over the past year for dealer principals and key executives on new laws. Last summer, for example, lawyers from NADA joined WANADA lawyer consultants Mike Charapp and Mike Johansen in a panel discussion of timely legal information, such as the revised overtime rule and minimum wage changes through the U.S. Department of Labor and the states.
Another new statute helpful for dealers is the spot delivery law that MADA got enacted with WANADAês support in the Maryland General Assembly. The legislative established in law the longstanding practice of conditional sales of vehicles with dealer-arranged financing.
Maryland MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer has been especially helpful with spot delivery and with the Dealer Advisory Forum that she operates out of her office. Stringfellow called the Forum a splendid example of public/private sector collaboration on dealer matters. WANADA has worked with the equivalent body in Virginia, the Motor Vehicle Dealer Board, with recently appointed administrator William Childress, who attend the Annual Meeting. In DC, WANADA is working with the DC DMV director Lucinda Babers and her staff on the cityês newly established electronic titling system.
Stringfellow spotlighted some important WANADA programs: the ADEI Technician Development Program and Dealer Employer Benefits. The ADEI Technician Development Program operates at Montgomery College in Rockville and, in Fairfax County, at Marshall Academy and Springfield High School. In the insurance area, WANADA staff is expert on all aspects of employee benefits and the ins-and-outs of the Affordable Care Act.
WANADAês efforts on growing the Washington Auto Show has born much fruit for all concerned, too, Stringfellow said. The annual event has become known as the industryês Public Policy Show and has been certified by the Organization of International Automakers, headquartered in Paris. Evidence of the showês stature occurred recently when the U.S. ambassador to France honored WANADAês delegation to the Paris Motor Show with other industry notables at a reception for the Washington Auto Show at the embassyês residence.
Looking ahead, Stringfellow invited the assembled crowd to WANADAês Centennial celebration at the Mayflower Hotel on April 1, 2017. Just as itês done for the industry over the past 100 years, WANADA will continue to successfully advance the interests of Washington area dealers, said Stringfellow, promising Save the Date cards on the Centennial Celebration shortly.Download Bulletin PDF