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Mazda sent a letter to their dealers today outlining the process for online registration for the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) which will start on Friday July 24, 2009. Mazda confirmed what we reported yesterday that the NHTSA dealer registration letters were placed in the mail today from an Oklahoma City postal facility.

In the letter much of the instructions were known to us but there were two points that stood out as new instructions:

  • Even though dealers may get their registration letters prior to July 24, 2009 they will not be able to login and register until the 24th. This will give all dealers ample time to make sure that the postal service delivers their letters which will be coming from Oklahoma.
  • All dealers who seek to use the official CARS logo, which is lime green, in any promotional tools or advertising campaigns have to get prior approval from the NHTSA. Dealers were advised to contact Kristen Allen at the DOT to submit their intended use of the logo for approval. Mazda indicated that dealers will need to give the DOT a few days to review the submitted marketing materials.

Marketing Mayhem or Simple Compliance

We are very glad that we have avoided using the CARS lime green colors and logo on our blog since we do not want to confuse consumers with the official government website located at http://www.cars.gov. We have also included clear markings that we are not a government website.

I am proud that our blog is #1 consumer to consumer resource and dealer to consumer portal for the Cash for Clunkers bill. We had 70,000 pageviews just today!

However, there are a number of websites that have been created that use the lime green colors and logo of the NHTSA program. I would assume that these marketing website will be asked to submit their designs for approval. I would predict that some websites will have to change their design.

The bigger question is what happens to qualifying car dealers that do not go through the logo approval process?

We clearly understand and support that the NHTSA is attempting to avoid consumers from being confused or scammed by receiving a "government looking letter" that has the CARS logo and NHTSA logo on the outside when in fact it is coming from a local dealer. This would be a terrible setback for the program.

Dealers are advised to heed the advice of the NHTSA to keep the program free from potential problems and misuse of the official government CARS and NHTSA logo.

Dealers should submit their artwork for review immediately to Kristen Allen. If dealers need the email address for Kristen Allen they can call the NHTSA hotline since we did not want to publish it on this blog. Call - 1-866-CAR-7891

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