The Wisconsin Automobile & Truck Dealers Association (WATDA), located in the heart of Madison, WI, is the only trade organization representing franchised and used car and truck dealers in Wisconsin.

In 1928, a group of car dealers from Milwaukee joined together for the purpose of taking strong legislative action in the 1929 session. The "Wisconsin Automobile Trades Association" was formed statewide to eliminate the personal property tax on automobiles and on dealer inventory. The tax was killing car sales in the months prior to the annual May first assessment date. By 1934, the dealers' proposal to offset the loss of revenue by repealing the personal property tax with an increase of one cent to the gas tax was accepted by the legislature. This resulted in savings to motorists of hundreds of millions of dollars and increased car sales. Today the Association vigorously fights all attempts to impose a property or excise tax on cars and trucks.

In 1976, Wisconsin Automobile Trades Association changed its name to "Wisconsin Automobile & Truck Dealers Association (WATDA)".

Additional areas WATDA has been successful on behalf of the dealer body include, pioneering franchise laws to protect dealers from unjust manufacturer action, implementing the WATDA Insurance Trust offering low cost hospital insurance for members, and eliminating the statutory finance reserve $25 cap. In addition, retaining trade-in difference for sales tax, the Sunday closing law, overtime exemptions, and practical disclosure laws are among the issues WATDA has continued to represent dealers' interests to government and the public.

Since 1929, Wisconsin Automobile & Truck Dealers Association has been dedicated to serving the car and truck dealers' needs in Wisconsin. United through membership in WATDA, members seek to achieve through "one voice" that which is impossible or too expensive to achieve alone.


  • Provides dealers a forum to solve dealer problems
  • Speaks out as the "dealers' voice" on issues
  • Coordinates legal actions affecting dealers
  • Conducts conferences, regional, district and town meetings
  • Presents high quality dealer and employee education programs
  • Publishes an online Reference Manual with legal and other information for dealer operations, including directories, resource materials and more
  • Provides timely bulletins on legal, legislative and service issues
  • Represents the dealers before state agencies and the legislature
  • Develops and sells legally correct forms for dealer use specific to Wisconsin
  • Works with the news media
  • Listens to dealer concerns, ideas and provides counsel as appropriate
  • Encourages industry cooperation
  • Fights for franchise rights and equity
  • Works with dealer councils
  • Provides health benefit programs for employees
  • Manages the Foundation of the Wisconsin Automobile & Truck Dealers Association for education and charitable giving


  • Governments may make choices, by design or by mistake, which can severely impact the ability of a dealership to conduct business
  • Customer expectations change, and dealers are expected to know how to keep up and remain competitive
  • Employee expectations and professional management changes directly affect the dealerships responsiveness as an ongoing modern enterprise
  • Manufacturers and other suppliers have unusual power over dealers and from time to time that power is abused
  • Research and bargaining for various complex services upon which dealers must rely is often frustrating for individual dealers to handle alone
  • Some essential services and education opportunities for dealers do not exist in the general marketplace
  • The image of a single dealer may be good in the community, but someone is always around fostering negative notions of the trade in general
  • If there was no WATDA, the first thing dealers would do is join together to create an association to expand their base of power


The Wisconsin Automobile & Truck Dealers Association, an organization of licensed dealers of new and used motor vehicles, is dedicated to advancing the common good of its members, consumers and their communities by promoting professionalism and prosperity through education, advocacy, information and service.



Government To participate in our state and national democratic government, to promote the dealers' common interest when consistent with the public interest, and to foster support for the transportation needs of the general public.
Education To provide for the educational needs of the dealers and their employees, and to coordinate with educational institutions for industry-related job training.
Public Relations To enhance the dealers public image by promoting a high plane of member business ethics, public representation and concern for the public interest; and by reporting accomplishments of the trade.
Services To evaluate and endorse or provide services or products of benefit to members.
Operations To provide the organizational and financial resources necessary for the continued effective operation of the Association.
Involvement To provide for and promote the active participation of members in the Association
Research and Analysis Interpret and report on changing social, governmental, economic and technical conditions affecting automobile and truck dealers, and to provide forums for the analysis and communication of issues, trends and opportunities of the trade.
Private Enterprise To work with trade and professional associations and groups for the accomplishment of common goals and the furtherance of private enterprise.
Legal To ensure the dealers' and general public's common interests and equities in matters involving licensors, franchisors and other industry suppliers; and upon request provide counsel on matters of general interest to the Association.