AIADA's story begins in 1970. Volkswagen dealers in the United States sold 569,000 Beetles that year – an all-time high – resulting in some happy and profitable Volkswagen dealers. Unfortunately, those sales numbers stirred concern among some in Washington and Detroit. Manufacturers and dealers of domestic-brand vehicles used their combined political clout to convince Congress to install trade quotas and tariffs in order to stem the tide of imported vehicles.
It quickly became evident that international nameplate dealers needed a political voice. Later that same record-setting year, 15 Volkswagen dealers met in Washington, D.C. to form the Volkswagen American Dealers Association (VADA). Its purpose was simple – to preserve a free market for imported international automobiles by lobbying the United States government. Today, this dealer-led organization represents more than 10,000 international franchises and is known as the American International Automobile Dealers Association, or AIADA.