TO THE EDITOR:
The March 2 letters "Don't dismiss the value of the dealer" and "Franchise system is not archaic" take issue with my Feb. 3 op-ed, "Tesla wins vs. outdated franchise laws." Chris Savage and Robert Poklar argue that I'm wrong in characterizing the dealer-distribution system as cumbersome and outdated and assert that car manufacturers would do a poor job of running their own retail sales operations.
Of course, there's only one way to find out: repealing the laws that prohibit direct distribution, letting consumers decide whether they would prefer to buy through dealers or directly from manufacturers. That's what we do for almost every other product, and it yields a variety of answers in the market.
I suspect that letting manufacturers and consumers decide the issue would result in a variety of car-distribution models as well. But we can't know what works and what doesn't until we let markets work freely.
If direct distribution is doomed to failure, dealers should have nothing to fear from letting the Teslas and Rivians of the world try it. General Motors, also, should stop putting so much political muscle into blocking Tesla. But dealers' and GM's efforts suggest they don't really believe direct distribution is less efficient. Why would a company bend over backwards to stop a competitor from making a fatal mistake?
I fully admit that direct distribution could be inefficient. But I'm sure Messrs. Savage and Poklar will also have the generosity to admit that they could be wrong. So let's find out!
DANIEL CRANE, Frederick Paul Furth senior professor of law, University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor, Mich.