Car dealer Don Hicks says he has tried for more than 30 years to persuade customers to not buy more car or truck than they really need.
He didn't want the "stars in their eyes" to blind shoppers to what they could afford, he says.
The same thinking should apply to car buyers and the environment, says Hicks, owner of Shortline Automotive Inc., of Aurora, Colo., and chairman of the American International Automobile Dealers Association.
Dealers should be "advocates of just the right amount of transportation," he says. They should ask a customer, "Do you really need this SUV to get around in?" says the seller of Hyundai, Kia, Subaru, Suzuki and Porsche vehicles.
Hicks and other AIADA leaders say that's why the association formed an environmental committee. Its goal is to help dealers solve environmental problems instead of create them, AIADA leaders told Automotive News.
Buzz Rodland, the former AIADA chairman who heads the committee, says that the panel won't pressure members to sell only smaller, more fuel-efficient cars and trucks.
But the committee can help dealers better understand environmental issues, says Rodland, who owns Rodland Toyota in Everett, Wash.
Information will be delivered via organization publications and by speakers at AIADA's annual Washington conference in May, Rodland says.
Historically, dealers have joined automakers in lobbying against congressional proposals for sharp increases in federal fuel economy standards.
Individual dealerships also are plaintiffs in industry lawsuits aimed at keeping states from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles, a move first undertaken by California.
Rodland says he opposed his own state's decision to adopt California-style rules, contingent on whether Oregon also adopts them.
For now, the environmental committee is unlikely to alter AIADA positions on major environmental policies, Rodland says.
But he says if dealers help gasoline-electric hybrids penetrate the market, they would make government fuel economy standards almost obsolete and reduce pollution.
You may e-mail Harry Stoffer at [email protected]