- Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed House Bill 637 into law, imposing restrictions on automakers but providing exceptions for electric vehicle manufacturers.
- The law prohibits manufacturers like Ford and General Motors from selling vehicles directly to consumers or offering online sales if they already operate dealerships within the state.
- Electric vehicle manufacturers like Rivian, Polestar, Lucid, and Tesla are granted direct sales privileges if they do not have independent dealerships.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed House Bill 637 into law, which places restrictions on automakers while offering exceptions for electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers.
Under the law, manufacturers like Ford and General Motors are prohibited from directly selling vehicles to consumers or offering online sales if they already operate dealerships within the state. The measure, however, grants direct sales privileges to EV-focused companies like Rivian, Polestar, Lucid, and Tesla, provided they do not possess independent dealerships.
Manufacturers are also restricted from factoring the number of pre-ordered or reserved vehicles by consumers when allocating vehicles to dealers. Moreover, the bill prohibits manufacturers from owning, operating, or controlling a dealership for a specific line-make if it is already offered for sale in Florida through a franchise agreement with an independent seller.
The legislation also introduces provisions allowing licensees to sell certain motor vehicle features or improvements through remote electronic transmission. Under specific conditions, licensees must pay dealers at least eight percent of the payment received.
Distributors and affiliates are further barred from obtaining a motor vehicle dealer license or operating a dealership that sells or services vehicles distributed by the distributor’s line-make.
Florida’s legislation stands out due to the exceptions it carves out for certain companies, setting it apart from states like Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas, which have outright bans on direct vehicle sales without exemptions.
Tesla, the leading electric car manufacturer, has been actively challenging similar bans in various states and currently retains the right to sell directly to customers in Delaware and Michigan. The Capitolist attempted to make contact with Tesla representatives, but the EV manufacturer did not immediately respond.
Critics of the new law argue that it creates an uneven playing field between traditional automakers and their EV counterparts. Dealerships are often associated with additional fees that can inflate the final purchase price, potentially giving an advantage to EV makers who can offer direct sales.
Meanwhile, proponents of the law, such as the Florida Automobile Dealers Association, which lobbied in favor of the bill, contends that dealerships provide essential benefits, including warranty services, consumer protection, test driving opportunities, and local employment.