Categorized | Press Release

NADA Chairman: Auto Dealers ‘On the Way Back’

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — With auto sales expected to reach nearly 13 million units in 2011, the outgoing chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) said today that the nation’s auto dealers have a renewed sense of optimism about the auto industry.

“We are on the way back,” said Ed Tonkin, a multi-franchise dealer from Portland, Ore., who will end his term as NADA chairman Monday, passing the gavel to Utah dealer Stephen Wade at the NADA Convention and Expo in San Francisco.

The convention, which runs through Monday, Feb. 7, is expected to draw nearly 17,000 total attendees, a 15 percent increase from the 2010 event.
“Our challenge now is to do everything in our power to keep things moving forward,” Tonkin said.

As chairman of NADA in 2010, Tonkin led the association through several legislative and regulatory challenges, including the dealers’ much publicized fight to keep dealer-assisted financing affordable and available for consumers when dealership F&I practices were threatened by the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform bill.

Tonkin, a new-car dealer since 1981, said the victory over the burdensome new regulations would not have been possible without dealers’ impressive grass-roots efforts.
“Simply put, the deck was absolutely staked against us,” Tonkin said. “This was a grass-roots effort the likes of which Washington has never seen.”

But dealers’ victories in 2010 are no reason to step off the gas, Tonkin said. If anything auto dealers have more reason now to invest in the industry’s future, as sales pick up and consumer confidence improves.

At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier last month, dealers got a taste for the many new models fueling a “renewed spirit of optimism” that sales may reach as much as 15 million units by 2015, Tonkin said.

“The industry’s recovery seems real, because it’s based on vehicles that fuel the imagination,” he said.

Still, Tonkin warned that proposals like the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to raise the fleet-average fuel economy standard to as much as 62 mpg by 2025 threaten to “throw a roadblock in front of this recovery.”

He urged manufacturers to remember that the consumer is the most important person in the auto industry, because “nothing happens without a buyer,” and short-sighted environmental policies could come at a cost to the auto industry and the overall economy.

“Dealers have long supported improving fuel economy, but we also know it must be based on sound public policy and not just wishful thinking,” he said.

Editor’s note: Stephen Wade will officially become 2011 NADA chairman at the convention’s general session on Monday, Feb. 7.

About NADA: The National Automobile Dealers Association, founded in 1917, represents nearly 16,000 new-car and truck dealers with about 34,700 franchises both domestic and international. For more information, visit

SOURCE National Automobile Dealers Association

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