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VADA President Don Hall talks EVs and warranty service: ‘We can work this out’

Don Hall, president and CEO of the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association, is one of the industry’s most recognized thought leaders, often leading the charge to solve problems affecting retailers and manufacturers. On this episode of Inside Automotive, host Jim Fitzpatrick sits down with Hall to discuss several issues facing the car business today and the movements to prepare for the challenges ahead.

Electric vehicles remain a controversial topic in automotive circles due to concerns about demand and infrastructure, but Hall cautions dealers against hesitation. “If they’re not ready [for EVs] they better get ready because they’re here,” he remarks, highlighting the rapidity with which the technology has scaled. Furthermore, while challenges exist in the industry’s electrification roadmap, such as the decimation of fixed ops revenues caused by fewer internal combustion engines, he notes that dealers will still encounter many new opportunities for profit and methods to increase customer engagement.

“There’s a tendency to say: ‘It’s different. People don’t want to do it.’ I go back in the industry long ago…when people said: ‘Don, people will never finance a car for more than 24 months’…I even had dealers say to me: ‘We have to get rid of the internet, it’s ruining our business’…Ladies and gentlemen, accept the fact that EVs are here,” Hall comments, adding, “It actually should be an exciting time for U.S. dealers and dealer organizations to get excited about these new cars and to go to interact with you people you have not interacted with for a long period of time.”

Hall weighs in on another frequently debated topic: warranty work. Dealers have grown increasingly frustrated over the legal loopholes car brands exploit to underpay service providers for recall and warranty repairs. He explains that as the hourly rates for such operations increase, OEMs decrease the number of paid hours technicians may spend working on the vehicle. This ultimately lowers the remuneration paid to franchisees and technicians that fix under-warranty products.

Hall believes that while both sides make compelling arguments, the public debacle only creates a rift between automakers and retailers. “The fact of the matter is…that the NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association) and others are working with the National Association of Manufacturers, trying to come to some conclusions and some ideas that maybe we can work together and finally stop playing games,” he states. While related lawsuits and court cases continue piling up, he concludes that such efforts are a waste of time for both sides: “…We don’t have to do this, we can work this out, as long as we’re fair to both sides.”

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Colin Velez
Colin Velez
Colin Velez is a staff writer/reporter for CBT News. After obtaining his bachelor’s in Communication from Kennesaw State University in 2018, he kicked off his writing career by developing marketing and public relations material for various industries, including travel and fashion. Throughout the next four years, he developed a love for working with journalists and other content creators, and his passion eventually led him to his current position. Today, Colin writes news content and coordinates stories with auto-industry insiders and entrepreneurs throughout the U.S.

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