The evolution of the franchised dealership model is beginning to appear in state capitols across the country.
Some state dealer associations are proposing new language in franchise laws that outline the relationship between new-vehicle dealers and automakers to better address newer concepts in the industry such as over-the-air service updates and vehicle reservations. West Virginia adopted legislation this year after dealership and automaker representatives negotiated a compromise on such issues, following a similar effort last year in North Carolina.
Advocates for dealers aiming to preserve the franchise model say that system is under threat from multiple fronts. Startup electric vehicle manufacturers want to bypass dealerships and sell their cars directly to consumers. Legacy automakers have experimented with updating vehicles remotely, an approach that may not require people to take their vehicles to a dealership's service drive.