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April 21. 2013 1:17AM

A fairer car deal: Government is already involved

Legislation to level the playing field between New Hampshire car dealers and car makers deserves to pass. It won't really "level" the field, but it may help keep down your car purchase price.



Auto makers are opposed to Senate Bill 126, which would amend an existing car dealer "bill of rights," because of concern that it will spread to other states. In fact, all 50 states have some form of law addressing the relationship between the car dealer and the car maker, so the position that government should not get involved is a bit behind the curve here.

And as we all know from recent government bailouts and government ownership of auto makers, "we, the people" have already stuck our collective noses under that tent, regrettable as that may be.

What SB 126 addresses is the current ability of car makers to demand wholesale changes to dealer showrooms, to the point of ordering them rebuilt every few years, all on the dealer's dime. But the dealer doesn't get to decide what materials to use or what products to buy, even if local ones are less expensive, as they often are.

Thefefore, the claim that SB 126, which would lessen those "rebuild" orders, will raise car prices seems to turn logic on its head. Without these revisions, manufacturers will continue to impose extremely costly mandates on dealers that they will have no choice but to pass on to consumers in the form of higher prices.

We would like to see the protections for local auto dealers passed. Put in some sort of sunset mechanism to check on its consequences after a couple of years. but, please, let's not hear that the government shouldn't get involved in this particular private enterprise. Unfortunately, this hasn't been the case with cars since Hector was a pup.


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