Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Bill Blocking Most Direct-to-Consumer Auto Sales

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

Dealer franchise laws are controversial at best and downright divisive in most cases, but they remain a significant force in the automotive industry despite the political noise surrounding them. Florida governor and GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis recently joined the fray when he signed House Bill 637, legislation that blocks direct auto sales for most brands but not all. 

As Inside EVs pointed out, the bill’s language prohibits direct-to-consumer sales by automakers. However, those that don’t already have existing franchise agreements can, so brands like Tesla, Rivian, Lucid, and others. While that won’t be a significant change from the current automotive retail situation, the law could give those automakers a competitive advantage over legacy companies, as it lets them sell vehicles at lower prices without covering dealers’ overhead.

Calls to revise or nix dealer franchise laws have become louder recently, as car buyers have felt the wrath of inflation, supply chain shortages, and extreme demand for some models. Those conditions have given dealers an open door to raise prices on new and used vehicles, which has led some to question why automakers can’t bypass dealers and sell directly to consumers.

Dealer franchise laws prevent that in most cases. They are designed to protect buyers, and the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) notes that they can also benefit manufacturers. While those claims are open to debate, the net effect on the average car buyer is that the choice is to buy from an established auto brand at a dealership or buy from an upstart EV company at a direct store.

There’s certainly a case to be made that local dealers play an important role in service and product support. Still, the remote service and mostly digital support programs offered by companies like Rivian have earned relatively solid reviews, and the brands’ customers are among the happiest respondents in surveys. 

[Image: Hunter Crenian via Shutterstock]

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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 32 comments
  • Any carmaker that wants to sell direct-to-customer just has to create a new brand that only sells direct-to-customer.

    There are so many idiots in politics, probably because any sane person would know better than to enter politics. In Florida it's worse - any sane person would stay the hell away from that state.

  • Paul Paul on Nov 27, 2023

    Consumer's opinion in the matter counts for NADA.

  • Carson D I hadn't seen a second-generation Courier with a Mazda engine before. I've seen a few with Ford engines. There was one at the Cox Driving Range that they used to collect golf balls. Golf would definitely be more entertaining to watch if they used moving targets.
  • Tassos ooops, Tim, you missed this one. Would make a lovely "Tim's used car of the day". It satisfies all the prerequisites except the wildly overpriced bit.
  • Tassos ASTON AND BOND BY A MILE. While Aston Martin sells a TINY FRACTION of what even the rarified Ferrari and Lambo sell, it is unbelievably well known. Credit the idiotic, but hugely successful and sometimes entertaining James Bond Movies.
  • Tassos 1988? Too young for me. It's all yours, Tim... BAHAHAHAHA!
  • Gray Awesome. Love these. But, if I had the money for a Fox-body, there is a clean '84 GT 350 here for little more than half the price.