DALLAS (January 28, 2023)—During his first address to America’s franchised auto dealers, 2023 NADA Chairman Geoffrey Pohanka stressed that new-car “dealers and their OEMs essentially want the same things: to give customers a great buying experience and to sell a lot of cars and trucks.”
Pohanka, a third-generation dealer who serves as chairman of the Pohanka Automotive Group in Capitol Heights, Md., added that “we don’t always agree on how to do that,” noting that “OEMs often don’t understand how complex it is to sell a car…. Sometimes we have to remind our legacy OEMs that dealers are their competitive advantage.”
“It is good for dealers and the manufacturers that there are buzzes in our industry,” Pohanka said. “Electric vehicles, autonomous cars and new power sources such as hydrogen. These cars are new. They’re exciting. They give people a reason to go out and buy a new car.”
Pohanka went on to tout the value of the franchise model to automakers and consumers alike. “Dealers’ opposition to the direct sellers is not about EVs…our opposition is that we know the franchise system is the best way to sell cars and take care of customers.”
In light of higher-than-average inflation and increased interest rates, Pohanka also addressed vehicle affordability and the importance of attainable federal and state fuel and emissions mandates. “Affordability is an issue for consumers… The EV revolution isn’t only fueled by consumer demand. It’s also drive by federal and state fuel economy and emissions mandates. These new regulations are significant; they’re also very difficult for OEMs to meet.”
“The rising cost of commodities required to manufacture batteries is making EVs less affordable,” added Pohanka. “If consumers are priced out of the market, their only option is to buy a used car or keep the old one. And that’s not good for the economy, the environment, or for public safety.”
To move dealers into the next generation in the auto retail evolution, Pohanka urged dealers “get more involved at the local, state, and national level. It’s truly time to stand up and be counted.”
The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), founded in 1917, represents more than 16,000 light-vehicle and commercial-truck dealerships with 32,500 domestic and international franchises. New-vehicle franchised dealers are directly responsible for more than one million U.S. jobs.