Earlier this month, I had the privilege of addressing the Automotive Press Association in Detroit. In addition to discussing what we're doing now and what we'll be doing in the future, I talked about the past - and about how NADA began. We should never forget that this association's genesis was in 1917 when dealers wanted to defend their customers from unfair policies in Washington, D.C. And a century later, we are doing the same thing on behalf of our customers and this great industry.
I explained this in great detail to the auto writers and other guests in attendance. And I did it through the eyes of our customers. After all, it's our customers who are seeing increased prices during the point of sale, financing, and even recall work as a result of unfair, unnecessary and overly broad policies from Washington.
So I posed some of the following questions: If Washington wanted to implement a policy that would add $600 to the cost of financing a new car, what would that feel like as a dealership customer?
What about a policy that would take anywhere from $1,200 to $6,000 out of a customer's pocket they trade in a used vehicle?
How about a policy that would add thousands of dollars to every single new vehicle that every manufacturer makes, up and down their entire lineups?
Or what if new-car buyers had to pay hundreds of dollars more at the retail level because Washington thought it was no longer beneficial to consumers to have multiple, independent retailers competing with each other for the same customers?
These are some of the questions I posed to the APA audience. The larger point is that it's not just dealers who are negatively impacted; our customers will also suffer from government overreach and misguided federal regulations. These are many of the battles we've been fighting in our nation's capital on behalf of our customers and fellow dealers, and the work is ongoing. Throughout the year, NADA has worked tirelessly to educate government officials and the media about the dealer business and how we provide efficient and cost-effective services to the driving public. We've had endless correspondence, roundtables and even hearings with our federal regulators so they can understand how their decisions impact this industry and the customers whom we serve. This is what NADA was founded on, and it's what we do best.
Never forget that in 1917, Washington came up with the idea to classify automobiles as "luxury goods" in order to impose a new 5 percent tax on their purchase. This new luxury tax on what was rapidly becoming an essential item would hit a lot of Americans right in the pocketbook, at a time when they could least afford it. Someone had to quickly get the message to Washington ... and auto dealers did just that. Thirty auto dealers went before Congress and argued that automobiles were a necessity-not a luxury-and a tax could price customers right out of the market for generations to come.
Congress listened back in 1917.
Today in 2016, we're working hard to get them to listen to us again.
Jeff Carlson is 2016 NADA chairman and a Ford and Subaru dealer in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.