Monday, December 5, 2016
AutoNation Reneges on No-recall Sales Promise, Blames Trump
Used vehicles with open recalls have begun rolling off AutoNation lots again, 16 months after the country’s largest new vehicle retailer promised an end to the practice.
The retailer, which has a half-billion dollar used vehicle expansion plan in the works, blames the about-face on the incoming Trump administration, with its CEO declaring that the legislative fight for mandatory used car recall repair is dead in the water.
Speaking to Automotive News, AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson claims he’s done all he can.
“If parts are available, we repair them,” Jackson said. “If the parts are not available, we’ll either auction or retail it. In both cases, we use full disclosure if we retail or auction it without having made a repair. It’s been a very difficult journey, but with the Trump administration there’s no way that that issue is going to be addressed from a regulatory point of view.”
Jackson, a self-described Clinton supporter, believed his company’s policy would spur legislation holding all used vehicle retailers to the same standard. Many safety advocates felt that a Clinton win would help pave the way for a federal ban on the sale of used cars with open recalls, not unlike the existing law for new vehicle sales.
By throwing in the towel, the retailer can now rid itself of an expensive burden.
Around 6,000 used vehicles awaiting recall repairs languished in AutoNation’s inventory at the end of November, the bulk of them equipped with Takata airbags. The recall’s scale has made the repair process a slow one. Late last year, AutoNation walked back part of its policy and began sending some recalled vehicles to auction (outfitted with window stickers stating the vehicles’ recalled status).
“The scale of the issue became astronomical,” Jackson said. “If things were ever going to change, Takata would be the rallying cry to say we can’t go on like this anymore.”
Only vehicles that couldn’t be repaired within a six-month period were sent to auction. Still, Jackson claims that most of the disclosure notices were removed, leaving future customers in the dark. By scrapping his policy, Jackson says would-be AutoNation customers will still be notified of the recall status of his company’s used vehicles, allowing them to make an informed decision.