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Don Hall on industry challenges and regulatory hurdles

On today’s Inside Automotive episode, we sit down with Don Hall, the dynamic President and CEO of the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association. Known for his forthright approach and deep industry insights, Don tackles some of the most pressing issues facing auto dealers today. From the challenges of EV adoption and stringent CARB regulations to the economic pressures of rising interest rates and inflation, Hall sheds light on the hurdles and opportunities within the automotive landscape.

Key Takeaways 

1. Don Hall underscores the pivotal role of dealer support for trade associations. He paints a picture of the vibrant annual conference, with a robust turnout of over 430 attendees, but he underlines the need for more dealers to be actively involved. He believes that every dealer’s participation is crucial for the success of their trade associations. Don also stresses the significance of meaningful meetings and strong leadership within associations to effectively address dealers’ needs, making each dealer feel valued and integral to the industry.

2. The interview highlights the ongoing issues with adopting EVs and the impact of California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations. Don discusses Virginia’s recent legal opinion that the state can opt out of CARB rules, which he believes are too stringent and unsuitable for Virginia’s market. He points out the practical challenges, such as the lack of infrastructure, the high costs of EVs, and the financial burden on consumers. Don argues for a gradual adoption of EVs over many years rather than a rapid, mandated shift.

3. Hall discusses the current economic climate, including rising interest rates and inflation, which affect vehicle affordability and dealer operations. He expresses concerns about high car payments and the potential for negative equity situations if loan terms are extended too long. Don also discusses the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought unexpected good times for the industry, but now the focus is on navigating the challenging economic environment. He underscores the importance of the upcoming elections and encourages dealers to vote for pro-business and pro-industry candidates.

4. The interview delves into recent conflicts with Hyundai regarding their franchise agreement, which Don argues violates Virginia laws. He criticizes Hyundai’s disregard for state laws and explains how the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association (VADA) took action by sending a letter outlining the legal violations. Hyundai eventually agreed to comply with Virginia laws, but Don remains vigilant about manufacturers adhering to state regulations. He emphasizes the need for a fair partnership between dealers and manufacturers, ensuring both parties uphold their obligations and treat each other with respect, empowering the audience and making them feel respected.

5. Nevertheless, Hall stresses the importance of civic duty, particularly voting, for the automotive community. He encourages dealers to motivate their employees and families to participate in elections, highlighting the impact of political decisions on the industry. As a veteran, Don feels strongly about honoring the sacrifices made for the right to vote and expresses frustration with low voter turnout. He advocates for dealers to promote voting and engage their communities in the electoral process, stressing the need for responsibility and involvement in the industry.

"Many people are not ready to accept electric vehicles due to the high cost. The average monthly payment for an EV is at least $700, not including insurance. These are not inexpensive cars, and it's unrealistic to expect people in the inner cities, who earn less, to be able to afford them."– Don Hall.

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For over 11 years, CBT News has been informing and helping automotive retail professionals grow their businesses and thrive in their careers through an awarding-winning, on-demand streaming platform. With exclusive interviews featuring the biggest names in the industry, daily newscasts, up-to-date market data, and exclusive articles covering the latest trends, CBT News is your #1 source for auto industry news and content.

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