Letter from Alex Vetter - President & CEO of CARS

Dear Dealer Partner,

As the impact of COVID-19 is felt from coast to coast and across every facet of the automotive industry, our first priority for you, our valued partner and friend, is to ensure we help you maintain your business now and for the long term. We are asking you to go to the CARS Cares website by close of business TODAY, Thursday, March 26, where you can easily sign and send the attached letter to the federal government officials who will be deciding as early as Friday whether to include local dealer sales and leasing as “Essential Businesses” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The franchise and independent dealers of America are essential to enable all of the other elements of “critical infrastructure”— first responders, medical personnel, grocery and pharmacy workers, and many more — to perform the tasks that are vital to maintaining the necessities of daily life at this time. And small and mid-size local businesses like yours are the backbone of our economy and necessary to keep  our country and local communities thriving, so we must do everything we can as an industry to protect the local dealer institution and make sure that it survives the crisis.

As a technology company that serves local dealers as its essential mission, CARS aims to extend the efforts of industry groups such as NADA, NIADA, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation and others. We are committed to working, in coalitions and independently, on your behalf at every level of government to try to achieve two goals: (1) to ensure that dealerships nationwide are considered essential businesses, not only for service and repair but also for sales and leasing activities; and (2) to receive federal economic assistance to weather this storm. This letter deals with the first of those.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has issued guidance on what industries and services qualify as “essential critical infrastructure.” CISA has listed automotive repair and maintenance facilities as a critical industry or service, but automotive sales and leasing are not explicitly included.

We believe access to transportation is needed for Americans to operate resiliently as the COVID-19 outbreak continues. Tens of millions of car shoppers are on Cars.com this month searching for cars, with more than 80 percent in the market to buy. Many of these are the working in the kinds of essential industries I mentioned above. This is why we are urging CISA to add automotive sales and leasing to the list of essential businesses. This is critically important for each of you as states are looking to CISA for guidance as to what qualifies as an essential business in their jurisdictions.

In the next day or two, CISA is expected to update its guidance. We need your help in reaching out NOW to policymakers to help inform CISA of the critical role automotive sales and leasing has during the coronavirus pandemic.

Please sign this letter which will be sent directly to decision makers at the Department of Homeland Security from the CARS Cares website. Our team created this technology to make it quick and easy for you to have your voices heard. We are fighting on the front lines for you and with you. Let’s work together to get at least 10,000 franchise and independent dealers in the U.S. to flood the offices at DHS with this letter stating that we want to responsibly “Keep Auto Open” by close of business this Thursday, March 26th. If you can also send a copy to your senators or congressperson, that will enhance the force of our message. Given our resilience as an industry, I am confident we will prevail like we always do.

You can also visit the CARS Cares website for a resource guide, including state-by-state government designations for auto dealers that includes information you need to help you navigate during this unprecedented time.

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In partnership,

Alex Vetter
alexvetter@cars.com
President & CEO of CARS

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