Dealer Groups are Up In Arms About Potential for Scout and Sony Afeela to Sell Cars Directly to Buyers

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

Dealers are often the first group to sound concerns when something changes in the auto industry, whether they’re justified in their complaints or not. Most recently, a state dealer association created an ad asking Volkswagen Group and Sony Honda Mobility not to sell their upcoming EVs outside of the existing dealer network over concerns the new divisions could follow Tesla and Rivian in selling directly to buyers.

The group placed an ad in the April 15 issue of Automotive News and has collected support from all 50 state and 21 metro-area dealer associations. They warned that federal and local laws could prohibit selling directly to consumers and said that the groups could pursue legal options if they attempted to do so.

Advocates for the groups have long complained that they’ve received no information from automakers after years of trying.

“After two years of asking and getting nothing, frustration is very high,” one person told Automotive News. “If they want to sell the vehicles direct, it’s going to be an incredibly difficult battle.”

Executives from the automakers have dodged questions about the situation, noting that they wanted to leave their options open as market conditions evolve. At the same time, VW is moving to bring the Cupra brand to the U.S., where it’s currently unclear how they’ll be sold.

While it’s hard to argue against the dealer system for owner support and servicing, it’s also hard to argue against more choices for buyers. Purchasing online or ordering a car can be a vastly better experience than trying to track down a model on a dealer’s lot and then negotiate a price anywhere near MSRP, so it will be interesting to see where the cards fall when the new brands arrive on the market.

[Image: T. Schneider/]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

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2 of 17 comments
  • Jeff Jeff on Apr 22, 2024

    “After two years of asking and getting nothing, frustration is very high,” one person told Automotive News. “If they want to sell the vehicles direct, it’s going to be an incredibly difficult battle.”

    Works for Tesla.

  • Vatchy Vatchy on Apr 24, 2024

    What is the difference between a car dealer and a drug dealer? Not much - you can end up dead using what they sell you. The real difference is that one is legal and one is not.

  • 3-On-The-Tree I don’t think Toyotas going down.
  • ToolGuy Random thoughts (bulleted list because it should work on this page):• Carlos Tavares is a very smart individual.• I get the sense that the western hemisphere portion of Stellantis was even more messed up than he originally believed (I have no data), which is why the plan (old plan, original plan) has taken longer than expected (longer than I expected).• All the OEMs who have taken a serious look at what is happening with EVs in China have had to take a step back and reassess (oversimplification: they were thinking mostly business-as-usual with some tweaks here and there, and now realize they have bigger issues, much bigger, really big).• You (dear TTAC reader) aren't ready to hear this yet, but the EV thing is a tsunami (the thing has already done the thing, just hasn't reached you yet). I hesitate to even tell you, but it is the truth.
  • ToolGuy ¶ I have kicked around doing an engine rebuild at some point (I never have on an automobile); right now my interest level in that is pretty low, say 2/5.¶ It could be interesting to do an engine swap at some point (also haven't done that), call that 2/5 as well.¶ Building a kit car would be interesting but a big commitment, let's say 1/5 realistically.¶ Frame-up restoration, very little interest, 1/5.¶ I have repainted a vehicle (down to bare metal) and that was interesting/engaging (didn't have the right facilities, but made it work, sort of lol).¶ Taking a vehicle which I like where the ICE has given out and converting it to EV sounds engaging and appealing. Would not do it anytime soon, maybe 3 to 5 years out. Current interest level 4/5.¶ Building my own car (from scratch) would have some significant hurdles. Unless I started my own car company, which might involve other hurdles. 😉
  • Rover Sig "Value" is what people perceive as its worth. What is the worth or value of an EV somebody creates out of a used car? People value different things, but for a vehicle, people generally ascribe worth in terms of reliability, maintainability, safety, appearance and style, utility (payload, range, etc.), convenience, operating cost, projected life, support network, etc. "Value for money" means how much worth would people think it had compared to competing vehicles on the market, in other words, would it be a good deal to buy one, compared to other vehicles one could get? Consider what price you would have to ask for it, including the parts and labor you put into it, because that would affect the “for the money” part of the “value for money” calculation. An indicator of whether people think an EV-built-in-a-used-car would provide "value for money" is the current level of demand for used cars turned into EVs. Are there a lot of people looking for these on the market? Or would building one just be a hobby? Repairing an existing EV, bringing it back into spec, might create better value for the money. Although demand for EVs is reportedly down recently.
  • ToolGuy Those of you who aren't listening to the TTAC Podcast, you really don't know what you are missing.