Sparrow: Auto dealers helping lead the Ariz. comeback - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

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Sparrow: Auto dealers helping lead the Ariz. comeback

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Posted: Monday, August 4, 2014 4:37 pm

It’s been a long road back from the depths of the recession, but there are signs that the state’s economic engine is revving up and the Arizona Automobile Dealers Association is proud to be playing an important leadership role.

According to media reports, for the first three months of the year, taxable sales of motor went from $1.7 billion in 2013 to $1.9 billion in 2014. That’s an increase of 13 percent. That does not include the millions spent on automobile parts and related items.

That’s not only good for our local economies it’s also good for the state of Arizona. And it’s a very encouraging sign for consumers. Statewide, association dealer members generate over 20 percent of all retail sales tax revenue. That’s in addition to any city or town sales taxes. It’s a significant number at a time when state and local governments are dealing with budget challenges.

Growth in other retail sales has not been as robust, which means auto dealerships are more of a factor in helping Arizona recover from the recession.

The industry is also an economic engine in terms of jobs. Arizona auto dealers directly employ more than 28,000 people statewide. Thousands of other jobs are supported indirectly by dealership business activity.

Our association also plays a major role in auto safety and service. Advances in technology help protect drivers. Accident rates have dropped. Automobiles are more reliable than ever before. The average age of an automobile on the road today is 11.4 years old. Getting more than 100,000 miles from a car is anew normal.

All that technology requires a greater degree of expertise for repairs and auto dealers are the ones who must rise to that occasion. Without these dealers, there are no guarantees that a greater level of expertise will be maintained for every type of car and truck. A neighborhood mechanic cannot be expected to have encyclopedic knowledge of every make and model.

Automobile dealers do business in every corner of Arizona. That’s why someone who drives a Ford in Flagstaff doesn’t have to drive all the way to Phoenix for specialized repairs. It means a Chevy driver in Sierra Vista doesn’t have to make a trip to Tucson to replace a hard to find part.

When there are recalls, it’s up to the local dealerships to make things right. In April, a General Motors recall covered more than 2.5 million vehicles nationwide. In Arizona 83 GM franchises jumped into action to take care of the problem locally.

And we compete every day amongst ourselves to create the best prices for you. The current system is based on a lot of trial and error over the years, and to prevent any company from gaining a stranglehold, like occurred in the early 20th century. That is not good for consumers. Vertical monopolies must remain a thing of the past with competition always our mantra moving forward.

The Arizona Automobile Dealers Association welcomes our informal partnership with many communities the association serves. They are why we are here. Our members are committed business people who not only value their own reputations, but also the reputation of the industry itself.

We look forward to growing with the communities in which we are located. Together let’s keep working toward our brightest Arizona days.

• Bobbi Sparrow is president of the Arizona Automobile Dealers Association.

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