Last June, the National Automobile Dealers Association launched a publicity campaign to convince car buyers why it's in their own best interests that dealers make it illegal to buy a car from Tesla Motors.

The campaign is called "Get the Facts," and it now includes a handful of animated videos, infographics, fact sheets, and other publicity materials.

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While it's not clear that the campaign has had a great deal of effect on car buyers' attitudes toward dealers, NADA's new chairman plans to continue the campaign.

Last month, Industry trade journal Ward's Auto interviewed the association's 2015 chairman, William C. Fox.

Tesla Store Los Angeles [photo: Misha Bruk / MBH Architects]

Tesla Store Los Angeles [photo: Misha Bruk / MBH Architects]

Not unexpectedly, he plans to continue promoting "the benefits of the dealer-franchise network," which he says provides the "best, most competitive, and most cost-effective system" for consumers to buy new cars.

Fox notes that those "benefits to consumers sometimes get lost," and says that NADA must promote the "price competition, warranty and recall accountability" that presumably only dealers can provide--not to mention highlighting the economic benefits to each community in which a dealership is located.

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Alluding to the direct online-sales model of electric-car maker Tesla Motors, Fox tells Ward's that such a model may "entice a niche auto manufacturer with lower volume serving a small market."

But, he says firmly, for any carmaker wishing to achieve volume sales to the mass market, "the dealer franchise model is proven to work best."

Frame from 'Benefits of Price Competition' video, by National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA)

Frame from 'Benefits of Price Competition' video, by National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA)

Given that dealers have made any other method of selling new cars illegal in roughly half the 50 states, Fox did not explain what real-world case study supports his assertion.

The interview is wide-ranging, and worth reading to understand the range of issues auto dealers face--and the power of NADA and state dealer lobbying associations.

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On the topic of proposed fuel-economy regulations for large trucks, Fox says, NADA's truck-dealer arm will "aggressively seek to ensure that the round two proposal avoids mandates with cost implications that could inhibit new-truck sales and the continuous fuel economy improvements we already see in the marketplace."

He brags that an amendment to the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill that exempted dealer-assisted financing for car purchases "was given almost no chance of passing, yet [it] is law today."

And he acknowledges that the perception of car dealerships differs from what the dealers themselves consider to be the reality.

"The day of the guy in the plaid suit with the big cigar is long gone," Fox says--but, he laments, "legislators and regulators just don’t understand our business."


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