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Published on February 2, 2009

Trade groups' role on display

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Opinion

AKRON (Feb. 2, 2009) — Two pieces of legislation recently introduced in Congress reinforce the role trade associations play on behalf of the aftermarket industry—both in supporting and opposing changes to the legislative landscape.


The first, a bill to encourage states to develop and implement periodic vehicle safety inspections, drew support from at least one trade group, the Automotive Service Association (ASA), which comprises collision, mechanical and transmission automotive repair shops.


Supporting this bill—which would penalize states that don't enact safety inspections by withholding federal highway funds—has two sides: enhancing safety on the roads and helping vehicle repair shops with potential new business.


The second involves several different pieces of legislation, all pertaining to a “Cash for Clunkers” concept—using federal funds to purchase older, ostensibly heavier-polluting vehicles to get them off the road and serve as a catalyst to new car sales.


Seven automotive aftermarket trade groups, led by the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and including the Tire Industry Association (TIA), have joined in opposing these bills. They claim there is no evidence such programs will achieve the stated goal of boosting new car sales, reducing emissions or cutting fuel consumption.


Instead, they maintain, if passed the bill could end up hurting lower income car owners and automotive aftermarket companies as well as collectors of classic vehicles.


The trade groups already are claiming one victory in their endeavors—getting the idea excluded from the federal economic stimulus package being debated in Congress after thousands of their members contacted their Congressional representatives to voice opposition to the bill.


Since then, however, more legislation along the same lines has been introduced in both the Senate and House.


In a joint letter to Congress, the aftermarket groups assert Cash for Clunkers programs “threaten jobs in the automotive aftermarket since they remove the opportunity to repair and upgrade existing cars and raise the price of used cars and parts.”


To their credit, the trade groups don't just complain. They offer constructive alternative incentives, such as allowing deductions for interest on car loans and state sales tax or tax credits to help owners upgrade, repair or maintain an older vehicle.


In addition to SEMA and TIA, the trade groups involved are: Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association; Automotive Engine Rebuilders Association; Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association; Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association; and Auto- ¬¬motive Transmission Rebuilders Association.


Together they represent a segment of the economy estimated to generate $258 billion in annual sales revenue while providing about 4.5 million jobs.


The next time their dues renewal request shows up in your in-box, they're expecting you'll remember what they're doing on your behalf.

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