The Federal Trade Commission has once again called on states to ease off on laws preventing car manufacturers from selling their vehicles directly in a new blog post today. Entitled “Direct-to-consumer auto sales: It’s not just about Tesla,” the post argues that states should allow any manufacturer to choose whether they want to sell through franchised dealerships or own their own retail outlets.
It comes as legislators in Michigan are poised to allow direct sales for a new “Autocycle” category, which would allow Elio to directly sell its new set of enclosed, three wheeled electric vehicles. Right now, the state prohibits direct sales from other manufacturers, including Tesla, which only allows people to purchase its cars through stores the company owns.
While the Commission hailed that decision as a step in the right direction, it said that Michigan should go further to allow automakers to choose how and where they sell cars.
The FTC’s post is also a shot across the bow for Washington, which put a loophole into its 2014 law preventing direct auto sales by manufacturers that allows Tesla to continue operating, but closes the door to other manufacturers. In the post, the FTC said that a prohibition on direct sales was “an anomaly within the larger economy,” and called on states to allow companies to determine how they want to sell cars.
That’s not to say that the regulator plans to step in and start applying rules at the federal level any time soon. The FTC is still leaving individual determinations up to the states. Today’s salvo goes to show that the commission is still keeping a close eye on the legal proceedings surrounding this issue, and it seems likely that the body will continue to push for an easing of restrictions.