Dealers are anticipating the Biden administration will affect their businesses in 2021, with a majority bracing for a negative impact, according to Automotive News' 2021 Dealer Outlook Survey of more than 180 dealership executives.
Some respondents said their primary concerns under President Joe Biden include the possibility of higher taxes and fuel prices, uncertain fiscal policy, tougher financial regulation and more oversight from federal agencies.
Others, such as Michelle Primm of Cascade Auto Group, are taking a more neutral stance as they wait and see how the new president's first year unfolds.
"In terms of the new administration and the new Congress, we are mostly focused on the exact same thing we always are, which is working to make sure our officials understand our business model and understand how important auto retailing is to thousands of local communities," said Primm, managing partner of the group's Audi-Mazda-Subaru dealership in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
Biden, a Democrat, has touted a $2 trillion "Build Back Better" agenda, which includes modernizing infrastructure and shaping future transportation, energy and climate policy. The plan calls for building hundreds of thousands of electric vehicle charging stations nationwide, swapping the government's fleet of roughly 645,000 vehicles with electric models and other measures to ultimately create a million new jobs in the auto industry.
Tax policy also is expected to change, including an increase in corporate taxes and an imposition of "commonsense tax reforms" on America's wealthiest.
Meanwhile, regulation through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau could be strengthened, likely providing more transparency to consumers. Biden's pick to head the bureau — Federal Trade Commission member Rohit Chopra — has been an advocate of regulation by enforcement and an outspoken critic of some dealership practices related to customer financing.