Phone: 630-495-2282 Fax: 630-495-2260 Map/Directions

NADA Convention & Expo mulls moving off February dates

October 26, 2012
The annual NADA Convention & Expo, which for years has coincided with the dates of the Chicago Auto Show, might adjust its future dates so as not to conflict with the Chicago show, the NADA chairman pledged during a visit this month to the CATA offices.
William Underriner, who operates four franchises in Billings, Mont., also updated CATA directors on other current efforts of the National Automobile Dealers Association.
CATA President Dave Sloan has been petitioning the NADA to change its convention schedule because of the conflict with the Chicago show dates. The NADA gathering saps news value from Chicago, Sloan said, because industry executives can’t be in two places at once.
Could the convention itself move to Chicago?
The convention typically is in warmer climes, often rotating among Orlando, Las Vegas and San Francisco. If it were held in a northern city, Underriner said “it could cost us a lot of money, with people not showing up.” But he said a spring convention might be appealing in Chicago.
CATA Vice Chairman John Webb noted that seasonal highs for San Francisco in January are comparable to Chicago in April. Underriner added that Chicago is attractive because, like San Francisco, the city is compact. Underriner also noted that the first NADA convention, in 1918, was in Chicago.
On other NADA efforts, Underriner said the association is opposing manufacturers’ mandatory facility upgrades  and two-tier pricing. The NADA created a special dealer task force last summer to focus on the fairness of stair-step programs, also referred to as two-tier pricing, which is a manufacturer-to-dealer incentive tied to sales goals.
“There is no manufacturer with a plan that says there is a return on investment” on the image programs, he said. “A manufacturer wouldn’t build a billion dollar plant without looking at ROI. We won’t sell one more car because of the (facility) improvements. Small dealers don’t get the same ROI as large dealers.”
The NADA is continuing its campaign against stair-step programs with two ads in November issues of Automotive News. He thinks any legislation to ban the practices would come at the state level, not federal.
“It really hurts the brand credibility and CSI scores,” Underriner said. “Manufacturers do it for market share, but really, they’re just pitting Chevy Dealer A against Chevy Dealer B.”
Underriner also said the association is combating the government’s mandate for increased CAFE standards.
“When 2025 comes, it’s going to be a big thing,” he said. “The Environmental Protection Agency said (the mandate) would add $3,000 to the price of a new car. But they also said it would add $6,000. Really, it would add $20,000, so it’s hard to believe the $3,000 number.”
Hybrids, he added, would have to account for 15 percent of sales for the increased standards to be met. In 2002, hybrids represented 2 percent of all sales. In 2012, they remain 2 percent.
The federal estate tax is scheduled in 2013 to revert to 2003 levels, with a fortune’s first $1 exempted from taxation and the rest taxed at 55 percent. Underriner said the NADA is pushing for thresholds of $5 million and 33 percent, but his home-state U.S. senator, Max Baucus, said the thresholds probably will settle at $5 million and 45 percent.
“Let’s hope our legislators get this figured out by the end of the year and don’t kick the can down the road,” said Underriner.
Underriner was joined on his visit by Andrew Koblenz, one of eight vice presidents of the NADA and the association’s general counsel. Koblenz directs the association’s Legal and Regulatory Group, which represents the NADA and dealer interests before federal agencies.