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Dealer Tonkin takes the wheel as new NADA chairman

November 10, 2010

By Ray Scarpelli Sr., Metro Chicago NADA Director

Oregon dealer Ed Tonkin started his term as 2010 NADA chairman at the association’s convention and exposition in Orlando on Feb. 15. With the industry expected to make modest improvements this year, Tonkin said the NADA must help ensure the recovery is unencumbered, so that dealers can get back to business.

That means keeping a close eye on federal legislation and regulations affecting the auto industry, making sure credit is flowing, and fostering open communications with members and manufacturers.

"It’s our job to make sure dealers are well represented in Washington and nationwide so we can get back to selling cars and trucks and making our customers happy," Tonkin said.

The new NADA chairman is the second in as many years to follow in his father’s footsteps. Tonkin’s father, Ron Tonkin, led the organization in 1989. Outgoing chairman John McEleney’s father, Warren McEleney, was the leader of the NADA in 1971.

Safety is paramount

The nation’s Toyota dealers are playing a crucial role in remedying Toyota’s unintended acceleration recall situation, NADA representatives said in written testimony to the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

"For America’s dealers, the safety of our customers is paramount. While vehicles today are safer and cleaner for the environment than ever before, they also are more complicated, requiring a nationwide network of qualified dealership technicians to service the nation’s fleet," the NADA wrote. "The value of such a network is never more apparent than when there is a large recall over safety concerns."

The dealer association pointed out to the subcommittee, which is part of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, that as soon as Toyota began providing service directives and the parts necessary to address the problem, dealers nationwide moved forward as quickly and conveniently as possible to make the necessary repairs—working overtime and, in many cases, seven days a week to fix the problems.

The nation’s 1,468 Toyota dealers employ 116,575 people across the country.

"We urge the subcommittee to carefully examine the facts related to this recall and help diminish any unsubstantiated rhetoric or shrill alarmism regarding the Toyota brand," the NADA said in the statement.

Full written testimony is at http://newsmanager.commpartners.com/nadah2/downloads/02-23-10%20NADA%20Written%20Testimony%20on%20Toyota%20Recall.pdf)

In legislative and regulatory news . . .

A Feb. 25 Congressional Oversight Panel hearing on the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) highlights the ongoing need to provide more liquidity for auto business lending.

"This hearing underscores a much larger problem: lenders are still too often unwilling to lend to auto dealers to buy cars and trucks for sale to their customers," said Andy Koblenz, NADA vice president for legal and regulatory affairs.

During the hearing, Ron Bloom, from the President’s Automotive Task Force, emphasized the need for action, saying that the future of the U.S. auto industry hinges on the ability of policy makers to restore the free flow of credit to auto retailers and car buyers.

By extending the Federal Reserve’s successful Term Asset-backed securities Loan Facility (TALF) and expanding the government’s small business loan guarantee programs, we create the best environment for banks and finance companies to be comfortable lending to dealers again," Koblenz said.

In a Feb. 24 meeting with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Koblenz outlined the need to continue TALF for wholesale or floorplan loans past the program’s March deadline. TALF has been successful in getting consumer credit transactions moving again.

Credit cards, consumer vehicle loans and home mortgages, among others, have rebounded. Yet wholesale credit for dealers is still "stymied" for some reason, Koblenz added. "It doesn’t make sense. Floorplan credit is traditionally one of the lowest risk loans a lender can make," he said.

The Fed meeting is part of a two-pronged approach by the NADA: In addition to its TALF efforts, the other is to boost lender interest in government-backed loans. Already successful in lifting an outdated ban on floorplan lending guarantees by the Small Business Administration, the NADA is urging Congress to increase the amount of funds that the government will guarantee.

In other NADA news . . .

• The NADA has launched an ambitious new online magazine, NADA Front Page, featuring comprehensive and timely coverage of the automotive industry. "This takes NADA communications to an entirely new level," says David Hyatt, NADA vice president for public affairs. NADAFrontPage.com is designed as a one-stop source for all the latest news affecting the auto industry.

Feature sections include: Top Stories, NADA-TV reports, NADA in the News, People, Politics, Issues and Opinion, plus Automaker News, Automotive Technology, as well as a special section, Cars of the Future.

ADAFrontPage.com premiered at the association’s 2010 convention.The online magazine is a hybrid site, combining news aggregation with original reporting. NADAFrontPage.com features expanded coverage of auto industry news, quotes from industry leaders and auto stock quotes.

NADAFrontPage.com will complement the association’s daily e-newsletter, NADA Headlines, which has become a must-read for thousands of dealers.

• U.S. light-vehicle sales will reach just short of 12 million units in 2010 as credit becomes more available and consumer confidence improves with rising employment, predicted Paul Taylor, NADA chief economist. Taylor said sales of crossover utilities and small and midsize cars improved in January compared to the same month last year. January sales of crossovers, the only vehicle segment whose sales improved in 2009, were up about 14 percent compared to January 2009, Taylor said.

Jonathan Banks, senior director of editorial and data services for NADA Used Car Guide, reported that all used-vehicle segments posted double-digit percentage increases year-over-year in January, compared to the low points experienced during 2009. He said that values on most segments are in line or above pre-recessionary levels.

• NADA University, unveiled exclusively to attendees of the NADA convention in Orlando, was the subject of vast interest and enthusiasm as dealers, allied industry and manufacturer reps and other convention attendees flocked to the NADA University booths.

Dealers who did not enroll during the convention are encouraged to visit www.NADAUniversity.com to enroll and begin taking advantage of the six free online courses, new online Driven publications and the many other member benefits available exclusively at NADA University.

• NADA University’s Academy will be graduating its 161st Dealer Candidate Academy class, its 77th General Dealership Management Class, and its 21st ATD Academy class since the Academy’s inception 30 years ago. The Academy has revised its curriculum to meet today’s industry challenges. Limited spaces remain—two DCA, one GDM, one ATD—for classes that begin in May and June for the 11-month program. For more information and to enroll online, go to www.NADAuniversity.com.

 

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