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Auto dealers in Hawaii welcome feds' plan


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POSTED: Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Obama Administration's pledge to back new car warranties issued by General Motors and Chrysler was welcomed by the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association.

“;It is very good news ... very positive, I see nothing but positives,”; said Dave Rolf, executive director.

“;I think people will be assured,”; so consumers can have full confidence when purchasing a car from one of those manufacturers, Rolf said.

He credited the administration for taking bold steps to preserve the American manufacturing base to shore up the economy.

Tax deduction language in the Feb. 17 Recovery Act led to projections that some 300 new cars could be sold this year locally, but further steps by the association and media outlets have boosted that projection to 3,000, he said.

“;Two-thirds of the economy, or roughly 67 percent, is based upon retail sales,”; and new car sales is among the largest components of retail sales, Rolf said.

A decrease in new car sales is economically akin to the canary dying in the coal mine, “;but when new car sales come back to life, you have that harbinger of spring,”; continuing the bird analogy.

“;Auto dealers are the first to see a return,”; and get the first indications “;that credit is loosening up and sales were again beginning to take place ... that's why the auto industry is so fundamental to the solution that needs to be put in place.”;

The association was a sponsor of the recent annual First Hawaiian International Auto Show.

“;I think, when we have things like we just experienced this weekend at the auto show, which saw an 8.2 percent increase in attendance in a time where everybody expected it to be down, we can start to come back from the direction we've been going in,”; Rolf said.