The American International Automobile Dealers Association has pledged to fight vehicle sales by dot-com companies.
The AIADA resolved to resist the 'implementation of any sales or service system (that) directly or indirectly' cuts out franchised dealers. The vote came last week at its annual meeting, held in conjunction with the NADA convention.
'These are new areas that are a threat. It's not just trade (issues) that threaten our livelihoods anymore,' said Barbara Vidmar, the 2000 AIADA chairman.
Dealers are making progress in persuading manufacturers. General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and American Honda Motor Co. Inc. took steps to reconcile with their dealers last week at the NADA convention. However, the threat of dot-com companies getting franchises and selling over the Web still is a live issue.
Vidmar is the first woman to chair the 30-year-old organization. She is vice president of Vidmar Motor Co., a Pueblo, Colo., dealer group that includes Honda and Volkswagen franchises.
At the meeting, the AIADA recognized all the winners of the David H. Gezon Lifetime Achievement Award. The award recognizes people who have contributed to the AIADA.
Vidmar and AIADA President Walter Huizenga outlined the association's 2000 legislative goals, with the federal luxury tax, estate tax and so-called chicken tax at the top of the list.
The chicken tax, on the books since 1963, sprang from a dispute with the former West Germany over frozen chicken imported from the United States. After West Germany slapped a tax on the chicken, Washington retaliated by imposing a 25 percent duty on imported light trucks.
Huizenga acknowledged that scratching the tax off the books is an uphill battle. It traditionally has been supported by domestic automakers, which jealously guard the profitable truck segment. The federal government, too, sees the tax as one of its few bargaining chips in any tariff wars, Huizenga said.
Over the coming year, the AIADA also will fight to repeal the estate tax. The tax disproportionately penalizes dealers, who have most of their capital tied up in physical property, Huizenga said.
Vidmar, who arrived on stage for her inaugural speech in a flying saucer that floated over the audience, started selling Hondas in the mid-1970s. At the time, the brand was virtually unknown. And all of the Civics she took delivery of were either orange or yellow.
Said Vidmar: 'Luckily, we had an energy crisis that summer and we've never looked back.'