The American International Automobile Dealers Association (AIADA) recently announced Steve Gates as its 2021 Chairman. Gates and AIADA President and CEO Cody Lusk joined CBT News to discuss the direction of the association and future challenges the industry could face in 2021.
Gates was introduced to the new Chairman at AIADA’s 51st Annual Meeting, held virtually this year. Gates is a third-generation Kentucky dealer and President of Gates Auto Family. Gates begins the conversation by discussing his thoughts on assuming the chairman position after an unprecedented 2020. He says that while it is certainly a crazy time to take on the role, it is also a very exciting time in the industry.
Gates says his top priority as Chairman of AIADA is to get to Washington to meet members of the new presidential administration. He says that AIADA wants to work alongside the new administration to maintain free trade. Lusk adds that the association was hopeful at the beginning of the Biden administration that they might reverse course on tariffs on steel, aluminum, and threatened auto tariffs. These tariffs continue to cause damage to the automotive sector. Gates says it will be crucial for the new administration to hear the industry’s story so they can understand how their policies impact automotive businesses.
Gates then discusses his concern with industry disruptors such as Tesla, Rivian, and Lucid making a push for direct sales, bypassing the franchise system. He says that he’s curious to see how Tesla manages any major recalls without locations around the country. He then discusses the growing EV market and the challenges it presents.
“I wish the states would talk more about electrification as opposed to pure EVs,” says Gates. “Hybrids make a lot more sense to me than pure EVs. We still have range anxiety and the cost of EVs is still very high.”
Lusk and Gates conclude the conversation by discussing what they want dealers to do to help their agenda in 2021. Lusk says that he would like to see dealers stay engaged with AIADA and government matters. He warns that there are challenges coming that could threaten the industry if everyone isn’t on the same page.
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