2007 NADA Washington, D.C. Conference
By CAR lobbyist Jeremy Cottrell


The focus of this year’s NADA Washington, D.C. Conference was loud and clear: the industry is in a state of transition. To what extent remains to be seen in the upcoming year, but be assured significant changes will transform the auto marketplace.

 

Notably the most palatable version of CAFE legislation referenced as H.R. 2927, also known as the Hill-Terry bill, has outpaced Rep. Ed Markey’s (D-Mass.) original bill. NADA has utilized a dual approach to combating Markey’s bill and bolstering the Hill-Terry bill by using effective lobbying, coupled with alerting its vast and comprehensive dealer network. As a result, Hill-Terry is on pace to be the viable House version of CAFE standards.

 

Besides Hill-Terry, efforts were aimed at educating legislators on passage of a total loss disclosure requirement and revamping the structure of the estate tax.

 

CADA was successful in gaining two more sponsors to the Hill-Terry bill during the legislative conference. In addition to Rep. John Salazar (D-3rd District Colo.) we were able to secure Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R- 4th District Colo.) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-5th District Colo.) as co-sponsors to the Hill Terry bill.

 

Unfortunately, the ultimate reality of what CAFE standards will likely be a compromise between the unkind Senate version and the auto industry backed Hill-Terry version.

 

The tug-of-war between government mandates and the will of the auto industry continues. Mandating issues typically and traditionally determined by the marketplace burdens both consumers, dealers and manufacturers. Nonetheless, the trend continues as both state and federal agencies move toward mandating which vehicles will be produced and by which standards they will operate upon.

 

In Vermont a case against automakers was decided that may have a negative domino affect nationwide. The decision by Judge William Sessions bolsters an attempt by states partnering with the EPA to enact stricter anti-pollution standards than federally mandated. This equates to automakers producing vehicles that attain 43 mpg, compared with the current requirement of 27.5 for passenger cars. Even worse, these standards must be in place by 2016. Claims that such a plan was not only unreasonable but impossible fell on deaf ears as yet another state was adopted into the fold of roughly a dozen states following California’s aggressive environmental lead.

 

Creating a patchwork of rules, regulations and unique standards across the nation is tantamount to treating each state as a separate country. As such, the federal government should simplify the system by passing a single set of standards to preempt all state legislation. Under the commerce clause the federal government is empowered to pass state legislation if it relates to matters involving significant interstate commerce and economic impact.

 

Without change, the very consumer the government is seeking to “protect” will be the consumer paying an increased price for a vehicle that costs automakers more to build 50 different versions.