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New Hampshire to allow Tesla, others to sell cars direct to consumers

by Andrew Ganz

Despite objections from automakers, New Hampshire has decided to let them sell cars direct to consumers.

A New Hampshire auto dealer "bill of rights" signed into law by the state's governor bolsters dealers against automakers and, uniquely, allows automakers like Tesla without a dealer in the state to sell cars directly to consumers.

Governor Maggie Hassan the legislation into law after it easily passed the state's Democratic-led House and Republican-led Senate earlier this year.

Championed by dealers in the New England state, the bill bans automakers from requiring costly showroom upgrades except for every 15 years and it mandates higher reimbursement rates for warranty repairs. In addition, dealers will be able to view more detail about data automakers keep on them.

The move irked the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which said in an email to Automotive News that "consumers will unfortunately pay more for both vehicles and vehicle repairs."

But the provision that allows automakers without a retail presence in New Hampshire to sell cars directly to consumers might have the most lasting effect on buyers across the U.S. California EV manufacturer Tesla has long campaigned states to do away with laws that require automakers to set up dealers in order to sell their cars. Although New Hampshire is a small new car market, its decision to allow automakers to potentially bypass dealers could have ramifications for other states currently grappling with how to respond to Tesla.

The EV builder's only presence in the northeast is currently near Boston, but a store in New Hampshire to service that market seems likely. The state's new laws would allow Tesla to sell and service cars directly from a facility it owns, something it cannot currently do.

The bill formally takes effect in about 90 days.