The Federal Trade Commission had billed its event as a Washington forum for “seasoned experts” to discuss the car-dealer-franchise system and state laws that support it.
But the ensuing anti-dealer tone and content of the January session surprised Jeff Roberts, an attorney who represents several dealerships.
Several vocal anti-dealer activists at the hearing claimed franchise laws thwart innovation and competition, he says. “The (FTC) director in a 5-minute tirade said, ‘If we could do away with (the dealer-franchise system) tomorrow, we would.’
“I thought, ‘I didn’t realize it’s an issue.’” But then Roberts thought it through. He came to a conclusion. “It’s an issue because of Tesla.”
The electric-vehicle maker has fought state-by-state to circumvent franchise laws so it can sell its EVs factory-direct rather than through dealers, as legislatively mandated.