The Trillium Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) is hoping proposed changes to the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act will allow them to finalize automobile transactions at a site other than the point of purchase.
“The pandemic highlighted a shortcoming of the MVDA [Motor Vehicle Dealers Act], not allowing auto dealers to do business offsite from their dealership,” said Frank Notte, TADA’s director of government services. “As showrooms were shut down at the height of the pandemic, a provision in the MVDA dating back to the year 2002 restricted dealers from obtaining wet signatures and transacting business away from their dealership…Even before the pandemic, consumer demand for offsite dealing was on the rise.”
On Aug. 3, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services released a consultation paper outlining proposed changes to the MVDA, which governs motor vehicle dealers and salespersons and sets out the requirements on how they conduct business and interact with consumers. The MVDA and its regulations are enforced by the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC). The deadline for submissions is Sept. 17.
John Carmichael, OMVIC executive officer, told Automotive News Canada that the auto industry has changed dramatically over the years, adding that it has been more than a decade since the act has been updated.
“Modernizing the MVDA to offer dealers and consumers the choice to transact offsite” is TADA’s top legislative priority, said Notte.
“We will shift our efforts into overdrive to ensure this proposal is communicated through the formal consultation and with key decision makers at Queen’s Park in the months ahead.”
The ministry is seeking feedback on the potential costs and cost savings from stakeholders. It noted that motor vehicle sales are “an important part of the provincial economy.”
TADA has been lobbying the province to amend the act in response to demands from both dealers and consumers, said Notte. When dealerships were shut down in the first wave of COVID, the government allowed dealers to courier contracts to customers who had purchased cars, and in turn the customers couriered the documents back to the dealers.
Carmichael said OMVIC did not know how long it will take the ministry to review and evaluate submissions.
“What we know is they will accept and take into account all the feedback they received provided it is submitted by the deadline,” he said.
TADA, meanwhile, will be urging its members to provide feedback, said Notte.
Shahin Alizadeh, CEO of Downtown Auto Group in Toronto, said the rules need “to reflect the changing dynamics within the auto sector. I just hope they don’t make it overly complicated.”
A dealer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, called the current legislation outdated.
“As the world evolves, the auto dealers in Toronto are still doing business the same way they 60 years ago,” the dealer said. “It’s time we have the freedom to advance the way we sell cars and give the customers what they want.”
The dealer added that with many dealers moving to “one price, one person sales” where one employee handles the customer’s entire vehicle transaction with no price haggling “it’s time to give the customer the choice of how they buy their new or used car.”