NADA prepares for a new world after McCarthy
Frank McCarthy wants the National Automobile Dealers Association to prepare for the future - a future without Frank McCarthy and a future that will find the dealer association playing a much different role in the auto industry.
McCarthy, who has directed NADA for 30 years, will retire at the end of 2001. NADA is talking with 600 dealers and with factory executives to redefine its place in the new world. The association must rethink its mission and its methods.
Should it merge with the American International Automobile Dealers Association? That's a good way to begin the review. Would they be stronger together than they are separately? Are two associations necessary today? AIADA's main concern has always been free trade. NADA also is a free trader, but its scope is much broader. Factory-dealer relations, for example.
But what will the factory-dealer climate be in the future? Republic Industries is strong enough to negotiate with the manufacturers on its own. The Ford Retail Network doesn't need help in talking with the factory. The Ford Retail Network is the factory. Likewise with General Motors' dealership consolidation in California. How far will that go? Publicly owned dealer groups are another question. They may look to Wall Street, not a trade association, for assistance.
NADA plays a major role in insurance, training and political fund raising, to mention only a few of its activities. How extensive can that work be if the biggest dealers and the biggest dealerships find their needs served elsewhere?
NADA has about 19,500 members, representing some 86 percent of the nation's car and light-truck dealerships. Will that total hold steady? Will it grow with a merger? Or will it decline as many large dealers turn to other helpmates?
The world after McCarthy will be different. NADA has a job to do.
Rebirth for Cadillac
It may debut at Paris; it may never see the light of day. It hasn't been approved for production, but it's whipping up interest at General Motors.
It's Cadillac's concept roadster. If it ever reaches the road, it probably will be a low-volume, very expensive showpiece. But that isn't all bad. Just ask Dodge about the value of its Viper image car.
And Cadillac needs an image rebuilder. At a time when the division is taking the Catera from Opel and the soon-to-arrive Escalade from GMC, it is good that Cadillac also is boldly moving in unique directions that will get people talking about Cadillac.