The National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers is calling on manufacturers to award a minimum of 15 percent of their dealerships to ethnic minority dealers and warned the Chrysler group and Volkswagen of America Inc. that they could become boycott targets.
"DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen-Audi, you have to do better," said NAMAD Chairman Steve Harrell during the group's Issues Forum.
"We are officially putting you on notice that your two companies are being targeted for a national information campaign in the ethnic minority communities, and this campaign is a prelude to a boycott of your products."
Sheila Vaden-Williams, the group's president, said the two companies were being singled out because the Chrysler group has the lowest percentage of minority-owned dealerships among the domestic manufacturers, and VW's Audi division has the lowest among the imports.
According to NAMAD, ethnic minorities own 5.22 percent of the nation's new-car dealerships; Audi is at 1.92 percent, and the Chrysler group - Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep - is at 3.29 percent.
The ethnic minorities included in the percentages are black, Hispanic, Asian-American and Native American.
Vaden-Williams said the group has not imposed a deadline on either of the companies but would like to open a dialogue.
Joe Folz,VW executive director of public affairs and the company's general counsel, said the company has been working on diversity issues and is making progress but acknowledged that things have not moved as fast as NAMAD would like.
"We've had a great relationship with Sheila and Steve, and we have a great deal of respect for the work NAMAD is doing," said Folz, who, along with Gerd Klauss, Volkswagen of America CEO, attended NAMAD's reception Sunday night.
"We're coming to the absolute critical importance of dealer diversity later than many of our competitors but no less enthusiastically."
In the meantime, NAMAD has created minority dealer census information that it plans to distribute at minority dealerships and churches starting in the next two weeks, Vaden-Williams said, "so they can make informed decisions about supporting companies that support us."