FTC to Host Public Workshop Examining the U.S. Auto Distribution System Workshop Will Explore Competition, State Regulations, and Emerging Trends in the Industry, Project No. P131202
State laws that restrict the sales of automobiles through dealerships is anti-competitive. Consumers should be given choices. This is no different than restricting a consumer from buying only from retail storefronts that deal with regional distributors. Modern technology has increased economic efficiency. Two decades ago, it was an amazing experience that the consumer could configure a computer equipped with the features that were needed rather than preset configurations. Directly ordering from an automobile manufacturer would allow the same freedom. A limited array of choices to only patronize dealers forces consumers to buy expensive option packages to obtain a single key feature. Other than monopolistic industries such as cable TV, other consumer products are being offered in greater varieties to suit individual tastes rather than over-bundled option packages. Some consumers will cross state borders to obtain their freedom of choice. Citizens at the lower end of the socio-economic scale have less mobility and less choices, so restriction of trade disproportionately disenfranchises the poor. The FTC should remove these anachronistic, unfair practices. Consumers that wish to patronize dealerships still can do so, but don't limit those that want the freedom of choice.