Optimism Marks NAAA Update

By Jeffrey Bellant April 23, 2020
Auto industry groups lobbied President Trump and Washington heavily for the essential industry designation Auto industry groups lobbied President Trump and Washington heavily for the essential industry designation

Industry leaders had a more optimistic outlook as they celebrated their lobbying efforts while looking ahead during a weekly conference call moderated through the National Auto Auction Association.

The first bit of good news was a federal agency’s advisory that auto sales are an essential industry, the result of intensive lobbying and industry teamwork, according to National Auto Auction Association CEO Frank Hackett.

Hackett said participants on NAAA’s weekly conference call on April 20 celebrated the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) advisory update that declared that auto sales were an essential industry.

Industry lobbyist Sante Esposito said this shows how consistent lobbying pays dividends for the industry, Hackett reported.

The NAAA, along with the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association, National Automobile Dealers Association and other industry groups, lobbied heavily for the essential industry designation.

 “We supported the new-car and used-car dealers by sending a letter to the President, Vice-President, cabinet leaders, majority and minority leaders in Congress and so forth,” Hackett said. “Our lobbyists received responses from many of those who acknowledged our letter of support.

“I think the fact that we’re known in Washington – where we weren’t 15 years ago – shows our lobbying work has paid off.”NAAA CEO Frank Hackett

Hackett said NAAA’s letters may not have been the catalyst for the change, but it is an example of how the industry is being helped by NAAA and other groups’ efforts.

It also shows how different players within the industry, from new-car dealers to used-car dealers and auctions, can work together for mutual benefit.

Hackett said years ago, many industry leaders were reluctant to lobby, afraid that it would just put a target on an industry that already was heavily regulated.

Leaders, however, decided it was an important part of defending the industry.

“We talked about making friends before we needed them,” Hackett said. “What’s paid off is we’ve made a lot of friends in Washington and it’s helped us.

“This is an example of making friends in Washington, having a lobbyist and being able to influence decisions that are made.”

Even as various companies within the industry are competitive with each other, they are able to put that aside in order to fight for the greater good, Hackett said.

NAAA has done this in the past in its efforts to fight odometer fraud as one example. This was an issue that interested regulators but also concerned the auction industry.

Overall, the mood has improved from previous weeks, Hackett said.

“The meeting was very positive. You get a sense that they are thinking, ‘next step, next step,’” Hackett said .”Businesses are sensitive to the safety of the workers. But at the same time, they’re optimistic that we’re going to come out of this sooner rather than later.”

Hackett said a discussion about a Cars.com survey about people who typically rely on public transportation and ridesharing services revealed that the “vast majority” would increase their reliability on personal transportation. Of those, 26 percent would look at a new vehicle purchase.

The group also reiterated its focus on preventing any type of Cash for Clunkers legislation that would mirror the 2009 program. That earlier program crushed 700,000 vehicles, taking them out of the supply pipeline.

Hackett added that auto analyst Glenn Mercer reported that, despite all that’s been happening, the average new-car transaction price is still climbing.

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Last modified on Thursday, 23 April 2020 19:40