Bailout Watch 120: The Dealers Want In. And It's Not a Bailout.

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Former NADA president and prolific car dealer Ron Tonkin has gone public with a new plan to fix the mess we call Detroit. And you’ll never guess what it isn’t. You see, Tonkin believes that government loan programs written with Detroit in mind are just not enough of a non-bailout. The federal shore-up of domestic auto lenders? Also insufficient. Tonkin thinks the country needs a non-bailout that’s easy to understand and, most importantly, one that doesn’t cut the dealers out of the non-bailout loop. So he’s written a letter to the D2.8’s executives calling on them to lobby President Bush for a $2,500 consumer tax credit towards the purchase of any new GM, Ford or Chrysler product. “I don’t know what I expect to hear from them,” Tonkin tells KATU TV. “I just hope that it triggers a response of some sort. And I think that if they really sit down and think about it, maybe this is a key that will unlock some progress.” Our friends at KATU are quick to point out that as well as not being a bailout, Mr Tonkin’s proposal isn’t motivated by self interest. After all, “if you think this is Tonkin’s way of drumming up business for himself, think again. Of his 18 dealerships, only two are domestic.” Read Tonkin’s credibility gulf after the jump.


I am a multi-franchised automobile dealer, however less than 20% of our dealerships are domestic, so this letter is anything but self serving.

The importance of the domestic side of our industry is paramount to the employment base and health of all America. Much of American employment depends on a successful and healthy industry which in turn filters to employment in allied and supply side industry as well as thousands of dealerships and their employees. In short, we need what we don’t have. And it isn’t quality. Our domestic products are as good or better than anything now produced worldwide. The trouble is, perception lags reality by several years, and we are not getting people into our showrooms to see what we have. Right now you could spend millions advertising until you are blue in the face and I don’t think you would achieve meaningful results.

What I am asking is for the three of you to call on President Bush and his advisors immediately and ask for a $2500 tax CREDIT for anyone purchasing a new GM, Ford or Chrysler product for the balance of the year. This would not be a “bail-out.” Keeping you profitable and all the people employed would more than make up in taxes what the stimulant package would cost. On the other hand, closing more plants and thousands of unemployed would be disastrous. We need help and we need it now. Indeed, this is a time for action. This will work!


Ron B. Tonkin, Pres./CEO

Ron Tonkin Dealerships

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • 26theone 26theone on Oct 23, 2008

    Oh my this is disturbing. Mr Tonkin needs to get a clue that buying shiny new cars is not a requirement in life. Every car purchase beyond just basic transportation is a luxury purchase. Just like the easy credit mortgage industry caused real estate prices to be artificially inflated, car loans did the same thing to car prices/sales. Look if people cant get the crazy home loans they stop offering obscene prices for homes and the market gets "real". Same with cars now that hopefully the 7 year loans and such have stopped. People dont need cars with 15 airbags that call them when they need an oil change. There is a whole fake economy out there (loans and credit card balances) that business seem to forget about. This reckoning is needed.

  • The duke The duke on Oct 23, 2008

    Being from Portland, I am familiar with Tonkin's dealership. Oldest Ferrari dealership on the west coast, on 122nd ave. He is familiar with automotive disaster - he sold both Deloreans and Vectors when they were new! But I'm not sure this is really helpful - or why he cares. Would the 2500 be no matter what the price of a car? Even with a 2500 discount I couldn't take a caliber.

  • Ajla There is inventory on the ground but as pointed out it is generally high dollar trims of high-dollar models and at least around here dealers still aren't budging off their mandatory nitrogen tires and Summer weather protection packages.You aren't paying '21-'22 prices anymore but it's still a long way to go.
  • Slavuta Every electric car must come with a film about lithium mining
  • Sobhuza Trooper Drop a good, high-strung German engine in this and you'd have American flair with German repair costs!
  • Kwik_Shift I'll just drive my Frontier into the ground as planned. Possibly find an older "fun" car to collect.
  • Lorenzo The solution is so simple: if the driver shifts into neutral without applying the parking brake, the horn sounds and lights flash until the parking brake is applied. After the third time, the driver should be insulted by a voice saying, "Shouldn't your wife be driving?", or "Where did you get your license - Dollar Store?"