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New Hampshire dealers gain new legal protections


After being a hot-button issue for the National Automobile Dealers’ Association and various state dealer associations in recent years, New Hampshire has approved an expansion of its state “Dealer Bill of Rights” that would, among other things, limit OEM facility upgrades to no more than 15 years.

Bill 126, which passed both state House and Senate this past spring and was signed into law by Governor Maggie Hassan in late June, provides more legal protection for the states’ franchised car dealers and farm equipment retailers.

“This updated law provides a more level playing field between national manufacturers and the men and women of New Hampshire who work so hard in our vehicle and equipment sales industry,” Hassan said in a statement.

“Local control is a hallmark of New Hampshire, and this law will bring an end to unfair practices in the industry.”

According to the new law, OEM-mandated image requirements will be limited to every 15 years. It also ended any manufacturer stipulations regarding the mandatory use of out-of-state products and contractors to complete facility upgrades. It also seeks to ensure “proper reimbursement” for warranty work completed by dealers and stipulates that OEMs give dealers “dealer files” on their business lending transparency in incentive programs, market area changes and performance reports, according to publish reports.

“This law will keep dealers competitive in the region, and it will better ensure that decisions made by manufacturers don’t do harm to local businesses or consumers,” NHADA president Pete McNamara said in a release about the new legislation.

Dan Gage, spokesman for the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers, said the group logged a written request asking Hassan to veto the bill. In its letter, the Alliance characterized the warranty reimbursement provision as a “money grab” by the dealers.

Of particular note is a provision in the bill that permits an automaker to sell vehicles directly to consumers opening the door for Tesla Motors, which as been battling state dealer associations in the U.S. in recent months that claim the electric automaker is circumventing state franchise laws with corporate-owned stores.

New Hampshire joins Colorado, which also recently approved similar laws aimed at providing franchise dealers a little more power when dealing with their factory.