NADA Chairman Emphasizes Frontline Role of Auto Dealers During Recalls


WASHINGTON (Feb. 23, 2010) - The first of several congressional hearings on the Toyota recall gets underway today, with about 100 Toyota executives, manufacturing employees and dealers from around the country in the nation's capital to show their support for the automaker.

“We hope the hearings are fair and balanced and held with a view towards rectifying the problem and ensuring customer safety as the primary goal,” says Ed Tonkin, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA).

Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will be trying to determine whether unintended acceleration on recalled Toyotas goes beyond interfering floor mats and sticky gas pedals into engine electronics.

“It's important that members of Congress hear directly from Toyota dealers so they recognize the many steps dealers are taking across America to get their customers' vehicles repaired and safely back on the road as quickly as possible,” he added.

Tonkin, a multi-franchise dealer in Portland, Ore., says repairs at his Toyota dealership have been going smoothly.

“We're telling our customers that a fix has been developed that will allow them to drive their vehicles with confidence,” Tonkin says. “Toyota has long had an image of quality. With the repairs, customers can once again consider Toyota a quality product like the vehicles offered by other automakers today.”

“The gas pedal repair takes less than an hour, and customers are appreciative that we're working extra hard to get them back on the road again,” he added. Tonkin says his new-vehicle inventory has also been fixed and is ready for sale again. “Dealers are working overtime to get the vehicles repaired,” he says.

Tonkin says it's important to note that from time to time all brands have recalls affecting their product lineup. Most recalls, however, do not garner the kind of publicity that the recent Toyota recalls have, he says.

“Recalls are something we live with in this industry and many others,” Tonkin says. “This is obviously a high profile recall, but we're sure that Toyota will get past this and consumers will once again embrace the product.”

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