It is unacceptable that it could take automakers up to 40 years to achieve a dealer body that includes 15 percent ethnic minorities vs. 6 percent today. Automakers and dealers must do everything they can to accelerate the pace.
Most manufacturers have agreed with the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers that 15 percent is a reasonable goal, especially in a market where minorities account for a growing share of sales.
But there were disappointing projections from a panel made up of manufacturers and minority dealers at the recent Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Automotive Symposium in Detroit. As of Jan. 1, there were 22,363 new-vehicle dealerships in the United States, according to the annual Automotive News dealer census. Minorities own 1,326 of those dealerships, according to NAMAD, which means that automakers must add more than 2,000 ethnic minority dealers to get to 15 percent.
If the industry were to add 100 minority-owned dealerships a year, it would take 20 years to achieve the goal. If it added 50 a year, it would take 40 years. That would be unconscionable.
The change can't happen overnight. But there are some things that dealers can do to accelerate the process. And manufacturers ought to use incentives to encourage dealers to do them.
Everybody agrees what needs to be done. But four decades is too long to wait before reaching the 15 percent solution.