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Dealers make a difference

November 18, 2010
By Ray Scarpelli, Metro Chicago NADA Director

Dealerships are a vital part of the U.S. economy. We provide some 1 million jobs and sell $700 billion in vehicles and services each year—more than 20 percent of U.S. retail sales. Because dealers are such a huge business force, we have big responsibilities—to our customers, to our communities, and to our fellow dealers.


Dealers are working with the NADA to protect consumers and other dealers from buying flood-damaged vehicles. David Regan, NADA vice president of legislative affairs, recently testified on this issue before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee. He called on insurance companies and state titling agencies to provide consumers access to VIN-based data before they buy used cars. 

"Armed with total-loss data and a better understanding of vehicle histories, both consumers and dealers will be able to steer clear of rebuilt wrecks and stolen vehicles," said Regan.


"For too long fraudulent resellers have relied upon a confusing 51-state titling regime to market rebuilt or stolen vehicles with clean titles. Consumers need to know before they buy a car whether it has been totaled; the technology exists today to make this happen." 

Regan said Congress already has granted the Department of Justice the authority to make insurance companies disclose total-loss data and salvage auction data, and Congress should press the agency to act because "an accurate and publicly accessible total-loss database would curb fraudulent activity dramatically."


In his remarks, Regan called for: 

  • Greater transparency. "Insurance companies should provide VIN-based disclosure of all totaled vehicles," he said. Also, "all states should carry forward prior brands when issuing new titles. States should brand registrations as well as titles."
  • More timeliness. "The insurance companies should disclose total-loss data at the time the total-loss payout occurs," he said. "Also, state DMVs should work with the private sector to push title data into the public domain faster." 
  • Better use of technology. "DMVs should make title data commercially available on a daily basis to the information industry, [which] has the technology to dramatically enhance public disclosure of insurance company information about total-loss vehicles and salvage auction sales data."


Regan said the combination of electronic access to total-loss data and faster access to DMV data will help consumers and dealers fight motor vehicle fraud. 

How else can dealers make a difference? There are more than 104,800 career opportunities available at dealerships across the country right now. It’s imperative that we promote these job openings in our communities.


One way to do this is to host an open house for local students and their parents and teachers during Automotive Career Month in October. Last year, more than 700 dealerships in 44 states held career events. This year, let’s double the number of participating dealers. 

The NADA is working to help dealers by pushing for permanent repeal of the federal estate tax. A planned congressional vote on the issue was postponed after Hurricane Katrina, but the NADA’s legislative office is working hard to get it back on the agenda. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said he will call for a vote before Memorial Day on permanent repeal.


"The death tax was unfair before Katrina and it’s still unfair," said Regan. "It’s a prime example of double taxation, and it should be eliminated." 

For the benefit of all dealers, stay involved with the NADA. Complete the NADA Dealer Attitude Survey every summer and winter. It’s one of the best ways to ensure automakers hear our voices.


The NADA also meets regularly with every automaker to discuss dealer concerns. As the domestic carmakers restructure and some international manufacturers struggle, it’s essential that automakers realize how important all dealers are to the industry’s success.