In the U.S., we benefit from the protection of numerous state franchise laws that generally provide that a manufacturer or distributor may not terminate or refuse to renew a franchise agreement unless it has first provided the dealer with written notice setting forth good cause and stating the grounds for termination or non-renewal. Some state franchise laws allow dealers to file protests or petitions or to attempt to comply with the manufacturer’s criteria within the notice period to avoid the termination or non-renewal. Our international locations generally do not have these laws and, as a result, our international operations operate without these types of protections.
We are subject to a wide range of environmental laws and regulations, including those governing discharges into the air and water, the operation and removal of aboveground and underground storage tanks, the use, handling, storage and disposal of hazardous substances and other materials and the investigation and remediation of environmental contamination. Our business involves the generation, use, handling and contracting for recycling or disposal of hazardous or toxic substances or wastes, including environmentally sensitive materials such as motor oil, filters, transmission fluid, antifreeze, refrigerant, batteries, solvents, lubricants, and fuel. We have incurred, and will continue to incur, capital and operating expenditures and other costs in complying with such laws and regulations.
Our operations involving the management of hazardous and other environmentally sensitive materials are subject to numerous requirements. Our business also involves the operation of storage tanks containing such materials. Storage tanks are subject to periodic testing, containment, upgrading and removal under applicable law. Furthermore, investigation or remediation may be necessary in the event of leaks or other discharges from current or former underground or aboveground storage tanks. In addition, water quality protection programs govern certain discharges from some of our operations. Similarly, certain air emissions from our operations, such as auto body painting, may be subject to relevant laws. Various health and safety standards also apply to our operations.
We may have liability in connection with materials that are sent to third-party recycling, treatment, and/or disposal facilities under the U.S. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and comparable statutes. These statutes impose liability for investigation and remediation of contamination without regard to fault or the legality of the conduct that contributed to the contamination. Responsible parties under these statutes may include the owner or operator of the site where the contamination occurred and companies that disposed or arranged for the disposal of the hazardous substances released at these sites.
An expanding trend in environmental regulation is to place more restrictions and limitations on activities that may affect the environment. Vehicle manufacturers are subject to federally mandated corporate average fuel economy standards, which will increase substantially through 2025. Furthermore, in response to concerns that emissions of carbon dioxide and certain other gases, referred to as “greenhouse gases,” may be contributing to warming of the Earth’s atmosphere, climate change-related legislation and policy changes to restrict greenhouse gas emissions are being considered, or have been implemented, at state and federal levels. Furthermore, numerous states, including California, have adopted or are considering requiring the sale of specified numbers of zero-emission vehicles. Significant increases in fuel economy requirements or new federal and state restrictions on emissions of carbon dioxide on vehicles and automobile fuels in the U.S. could adversely affect prices of and demand for the vehicles that we sell.
We have a proactive strategy related to environmental, health and safety compliance, which includes contracting with third-parties to inspect our facilities periodically. We believe that we do not have any material environmental liabilities and that compliance with environmental laws and regulations will not, individually or in the aggregate, have a material effect on us. However, soil and groundwater contamination is known to exist at certain of our current or former properties. Further, environmental laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. In addition, in connection with our acquisitions, it is possible that we will assume or become subject to new or unforeseen environmental costs or liabilities, some of which may be material. Compliance with current, amended, new or more stringent laws or regulations, stricter interpretations of existing laws or the future discovery of environmental conditions could require additional expenditures by us, and such expenditures could be material.