Illegal car sales

Thank goodness for the American legislature protecting the consumer from evil predations of private firms. North Carolina has taken a great step forward by aiming to make it illegal to buy cars online:

In North Carolina, a bill in the works would make it illegal to sell a car online. Can you imagine that? The black clad ninjas may be headed Tesla's way – not for ripping off taxpayers by forcing them to subsidize the making of economically untenable electric cars – but for how they are sold.
You can configure your Tesla online, submit your order online, and get your car delivered to your door. No salesman involved. No need to go to a dealership. No-one trying to stick his hand into your wallet, haze you about the car buying process, trick you into bad extended financing or warranty deals. How will the car salesweasels make a profitable living from you? The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) has been strenuously lobbying to protect its members' livelihoods. Of course, this means that anyone in North Caroline (or Texas, or Virginia) is going to have to jump through hoops to buy a Tesla, assuming they have the $60K-$90K necessary in the first place.

Eric Peters is quite clear on the future of car buying that Tesla portends:

Imagine how neat it would be if you could go online and shop for your next new car – your next new Chevy, Honda or whatever kind of car. Pick only the options you want, on an a la carte basis – not "bundled packages" heavily marked up. The price for the car – and each option – is right there, clearly stated. No bullshit. No deliberately obfuscatory paperwork. No haggling. No hassles.
And no middlemen.
The Internet is famously great at removing the middleman from transactions. Understandably, the middlemen aren't keen on this, but it's not the job of the legislature to protect the middlemen. Not unless they want to join the car salesmen, real estate agents and HMO administrators in being hung from the nearest lamp post.


  1. You'll like this: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2013/02/19/172402376/why-buying-a-car-never-changes

    PS Planet Money is in many ways much better then the excellent More or Less

  2. Thanks for the link SimonF. I didn't realise how big a sales tax contribution cars made - it suddenly becomes clearer why car dealerships have big lobbying sticks.


All comments are subject to retrospective moderation. I will only reject spam, gratuitous abuse, and wilful stupidity.