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Summer is underway, and so is summer driving

November 22, 2010
In 2003, truck sales accounted for 54 percent of all of the 16.6 million vehicles sold in the United States. Today, dealers have more than a 100-day supply of SUVs, minivans and other lower-gas mileage vehicles on their lots, but manufacturers are providing incentives to help move them, and more fuel-efficient versions of some larger models are being introduced. U.S. fuel prices are at record highs, and this price surge may be changing buying patterns. But the NADA still forecasts a robust 16.8 million cars and light trucks will be sold by the end of 2004. Today, customers are buying more fuelefficient cars, including some hybrids, or selecting crossover utility vehicles instead of truckbased SUVs. But there still is a market for large cars and SUVs, and travelers have not curtailed their driving. Rather, Americans are resigned to paying higher fuel prices and are hoping those prices eventually will fall. With the arrival of warm weather, vacationers have started to pack family members, luggage and outdoor equipment into their vehicles. These cargo-laden travelers need the space large vehicles offer, and the $2-per-gallon price tag on gasoline has not convinced many Americans to abandon their spacious SUVs. As summer vacationers drive out of town, legislators are returning to their home districts. Now is a great time to set up a meeting with your U.S. congressional delegations. Or, invite your U.S. senators and representatives to your dealership for a special event or a visit and tour. A key NADA legislative issue is advocating for tax deferrals for Oldsmobile dealers who purchase other dealership assets within two years of receiving their GM settlement. The Senate has passed the legislation but now must move through the House. In other NADA news: Dealer financing is a hot topic for a hot summer, with excessively negative media reports and unwarranted scrutiny. The NADA has created the following resources to rescue beleaguered dealers: • A media "tool kit," available in July for download from the NADA's Web site, containing Q&A to educate dealers on the issue; tips for dealingwith the media; "Myth vs. Fact" sheet for the media and inquiring customers; and  letter-to-the-editor and bylined article templates that dealers may use to defend their fair practices. • Vehicle financing talking points at www.nada.org/talkingpoints/ • NADA's vehicle financing resolution that dealer associations are encouraged to adopt: "In the interest of increasing consumer awareness, the National Automobile Dealers Association encourages and supports a clear written disclosure to consumers (1) that the annual percentage rate (APR) for the installment sale of an automobile may be negotiated with the dealership; and (2) that the dealership may receive some portion of the finance charge or receive other compensation for providing the financing." • The helpful "Understanding Vehicle Financing" brochure designed for customers, the media and the general public is available for download onwww.nada.org. There is also a link to the downloadableSpanish language version. • The NADA's watchable new training video, "F&I:  Absolute Integrity . . . 100% of the Time," available from www.nada.org/ mecatalog • CSI is still a hot topic, and NADA's CSI working group, under the leadership of immediate pastchairman Alan Starling, continues to work with dealers and manufacturers to improve  the process and the usefulness and validity of CSI results to everyone's benefit. • With many new regulations, communicating with customers has recently become much more complicated. To help dealers through the "regulatory maze," the NADA hosted a conference call for members with Federal Trade Commission attorneys on safeguarding customer information. "A Dealer Guide to Safeguarding Customer Information" is available from www.nada.org/mecatalog • Compliance information on the Do-Not-Call registry is posted at www.nada.org's Regulatory page under Government Affairs, with a link to the FTC Web site. • The NADA's Dealer Attitude Survey presentations to every major manufacturer are ongoing; results of the DAS will appear in the July issue of NADA's AutoExec, with more extensive information at www.nada.org. As Americans' thoughts turn to the open road, many will stop at their local dealerships to buy vehicles to take them wherever they wish to go. Let's be sure we're dealing with customers in a fair and honest manner, adhering to the tenets of NADA's Code of Ethics and vehicle financing resolution. Have a hot summer, sales-wise.
 

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