Chinese automakers could pose a threat to the U.S. auto industry’s dealer franchise system by following Tesla in selling directly to customers, according to the chairman of National Automobile Dealers Association.
Tesla, the world’s biggest seller of premium electric cars, sells directly to customers and has company-owned outlets. NADA, which represents almost 16,000 new-car dealers, has opposed the Palo Alto, California-based company’s decision to forgo the use of franchised dealerships.
“It’s in the back of everybody’s minds at this point, just to make sure that we should talk to the Chinese as their cars evolve,” David Westcott, a North Carolina auto dealer, said yesterday at an Automotive Press Association event in Detroit. “Dealers won’t fight having those cars come in. Will we fight to make sure there’s a franchise system? Yes.”
The largest U.S. automakers are closely monitoring Chinese carmakers and the ambitions held by the companies and their government to someday enter the U.S. market. According to David Schoch, president of Ford’s Asia Pacific operations, Great Wall Motor Co., China’s top seller of sport-utility vehicles, has the most traction among the automakers looking to expand abroad.
NADA leaders have met with Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk several times, Westcott said. He also said he would be “glad to have” a Tesla franchise if the company decides to change course with its distribution strategy.
) - Thursday, October 17th, 2013 - filed under Industry
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