Title 9: Commerce and Trade
Chapter 108: MOTOR VEHICLE MANUFACTURERS, DISTRIBUTORS, AND DEALERS FRANCHISING
9 V.S.A. § 4096. Unlawful acts by manufacturers or distributors
§ 4096. Unlawful acts by manufacturers or distributors
It shall be a violation of this chapter for any manufacturer, as defined under this chapter, to require, attempt to require, coerce, or attempt to coerce any new motor vehicle dealer in this state:
(1) To order or accept delivery of any new motor vehicle, part or accessory thereof, equipment or any other commodity not required by law or a recall campaign which shall not have been voluntarily ordered by the new motor vehicle dealer; except that this subdivision is not intended to modify or supersede any terms or provisions of the franchise requiring new motor vehicle dealers to market a representative line of those motor vehicles which the manufacturer or distributor is publicly advertising.
(2) To order or accept delivery of any new motor vehicle with special features, accessories, or equipment not included in the list price of such motor vehicles as publicly advertised by the manufacturer or distributor.
(3) To participate monetarily in an advertising campaign or contest, or to purchase any promotional materials, training materials, showroom, or other display decorations or materials at the expense of the new motor vehicle dealer, or to require any dealer without his or her prior written agreement to participate in any manufacturer's rebate program or to require a dealer to contribute to a manufacturer's warranty rebate program, either by discount or otherwise without prior notification and prior written consent of the dealer.
(4) To enter into any agreement with the manufacturer or to do any other act prejudicial to the new motor vehicle dealer by threatening to terminate or cancel a franchise or any contractual agreement existing between the dealer and the manufacturer; except that this subdivision is not intended to preclude the manufacturer or distributor from insisting on compliance with the reasonable terms or provisions of the franchise or other contractual agreement, and notice in good faith to any new motor vehicle dealer of the new motor vehicle dealer's violation of such terms or provisions shall not constitute a violation of the chapter.
(5) To change the capital structure of the new motor vehicle dealer or the means by or through which the new motor vehicle dealer finances the operation of the dealership provided that the new motor vehicle dealer at all times meets any reasonable capital standards determined by the manufacturer in accordance with uniformly applied criteria; and also provided that no change in the capital structure shall cause a change in the principal management or have the effect of a sale of the franchise without the consent of the manufacturer or distributor; said consent shall not be unreasonably withheld.
(6) To refrain from participation in the management of, investment in, or the acquisition of any other line-make of new motor vehicle or related products; provided, however, that this subdivision does not apply unless the new motor vehicle dealer maintains a reasonable line of credit for each make or line-make of new motor vehicle, the new motor vehicle dealer remains in compliance with any reasonable facilities requirements of the manufacturer, and no change is made in the principal management of the new motor vehicle dealer. For purposes of this act, "reasonable facilities requirements" shall not include a requirement that a new motor vehicle dealer establish or maintain exclusive facilities, personnel, or display space.
(A) The new motor vehicle dealer shall provide written notice to the manufacturer and the board no less than 90 days prior to the dealer's intent to participate in the management of, investment in, or acquisition of another line-make of new motor vehicles or related products.
(B) Within 45 days of receipt of the notice from the dealer, the manufacturer may file with the board a protest alleging specific facts to support its claim that the new motor vehicle dealer cannot maintain a reasonable line of credit for each make or line-make of new motor vehicle, the new motor vehicle dealer cannot remain in compliance with any reasonable facilities requirements of the manufacturer, or that a change is being made in the principal management of the new motor vehicle dealer. The manufacturer shall also serve the protest on the new motor vehicle dealer within the 45-day period. If the manufacturer does not file a protest with the board within 45 days, then the dealer may participate in the management of, investment in, or acquisition of another line-make of new motor vehicles or related products as set forth in its written notice of intent.
(C) Within 45 days of the receipt of a protest from a manufacturer, the board shall meet, hear, and take evidence limited to the claims set forth in the manufacturer's protest and make a determination on each of the manufacturer's claims. The burden of proof shall be on the manufacturer. The decision of the board shall be final and no appeal may be taken.
(7) To assent to a release, assignment, novation, waiver, or estoppel which would relieve any person from liability to be imposed by this law or to require any controversy between a new motor vehicle dealer and a manufacturer, distributor, or representative, to be referred to any person other than the duly constituted courts of the state or the United States of America, if such referral would be binding upon the new motor vehicle dealer.
(8) To change the location of the dealership or to make any substantial alterations to the dealership premises or facilities when to do so would be unreasonable.
(9) To change the location of the dealership or to make any substantial alterations to the dealership premises or facilities in the absence of written assurance from the manufacturer or distributor of a sufficient supply of new motor vehicles to justify the change in location or the alterations. (Added 1981, No. 157 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. April 14, 1982; amended 1989, No. 84, § 1; 2009, No. 57, § 1, eff. June 1, 2009.)