Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association (CARA)
Excited for the future
By Sarah Fryxell, President, Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association
The Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association (CARA) has been representing the State’s new car dealerships for 100 years. We are proud of our history, and we rely on our core values as we focus on the future of our industry.
Connecticut’s over 240 new car dealerships provide a huge economic boost to the state. They created more than 14,000 jobs last year: jobs offering good pay, often with benefits and opportunities for advancement, without the need for a four-year college degree. The dealerships have a combined payroll of $869 million and generate $9.8 billion in total sales, which is a 17.7% share of total retail sales in Connecticut.
In addition to the dealers’ economic significance, automotive retailers play a critical role in the communities where they do business. They provide tremendous financial support to local charities and foundations and are very active in their communities.
There’s no doubt that the problems with the global supply chain have affected our dealerships. With microchips hard to come by and the shutting down of assembly lines by the automobile manufacturers at the beginning of the pandemic, dealerships are finding it a challenge to meet demand. Used car sales are up by five to ten percent this past year because there is a lack of new car inventory on our dealers’ lots. It has been reported that, in 2021, the auto manufacturers will produce close to four million fewer vehicles than they planned to get to market. Unfortunately, this supply shortage will have an impact on our members, as well as the State of Connecticut.
That said, Connecticut new car dealers are resilient. They are constantly updating and changing to keep up with customer trends, needs, and wants through the inventory on the lot and with how cars are sold and serviced. Customers who prefer to shop online can do that easily and at their leisure. If you want to buy a car from your local dealer online, you can currently do that in Connecticut. Dealer websites allow customers to connect with a dealer representative to ask questions, or they can research and buy without assistance.
Dealerships are in the business of customer service. We anticipate what our customers want and need, and we continuously change based on their feedback. Connecticut car dealerships are local businesses that understand their customers’ preferences. The feedback we receive goes into changes and alterations to make the customers’ experience as pleasant as possible.
Connecticut new car dealers provide all services their customers need through the life of their purchase. We do not end the relationship with the customer when the car leaves the dealership lot. We are available to the customer through financing, registration with the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles, servicing, recall notices, updates, and when the customer is ready to trade-in or purchase another vehicle.
Customer demand for Electric Vehicles (EVs) is growing, and Connecticut’s new car dealers are excited about selling them. With over 40 options for EVs, and projections for 80 EVs to be on the market soon, Connecticut dealerships make purchasing, servicing, and charging EVs easily accessible for all consumers. EVs found at Connecticut dealerships suit every budget and lifestyle: sedans, pickups, and SUVs, and includes all electric and plug-in hybrids.
EVs are successfully sold by Connecticut car dealers to residents of the State and those same dealers are committed to honoring those sales and being a reliable source for any future repairs. By 2023, the auto industry will have invested more than $250 billion in electrification, and IHS Markit predicts there will be 130 EV models available in the U.S. by 2026.
Connecticut’s new car dealerships are a proven system to sell electric vehicles and help Connecticut reach its EV goals. We are focused on supporting our new car dealers and their businesses that drive Connecticut’s economy, invest in local businesses, serve their communities, and provide professional customer service and support.
Connecticut car dealers are assisting the state in the buildout of a robust charging infrastructure and offer universal charging ports that are compatible for any electric car. Dealers across Connecticut are investing millions of dollars in charging stations including several super chargers, making the charging process fast and efficient. Many of the chargers at the dealerships are open to the public, whether you purchased your car at that dealership or not, with some dealers even offering the service free of charge. Dealerships will continue to invest in this infrastructure because they know it is what their customers want, it is good for the State, and it is good for the environment.
Connecticut’s leaders have set ambitious targets for EV adoption. The efforts of the State’s network of local dealerships will be crucial to meeting those targets. The new car dealers continue to be part of the answer and are always looking forward.
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AT A GLANCE
Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association
What: Representing the State’s new car dealerships for over a century
Where: Based in Hartford, Connecticut