Originally created 02/17/99

Dealership law encourages competition



ATLANTA -- Georgia's car dealers claimed victory Wednesday after the state House voted to limit car manufacturers' ability to buy dealers out or open dealerships nearby.

Supporters of the bill, which passed with a 127-48 vote, said it eventually could increase competition, meaning consumers could pay less for automobiles.

``It gives some strength to our local Georgia dealers,'' said Rep. Dubose Porter, D-Dublin, the bill's sponsor. ``It keeps a higher number of dealers out there. That keeps the market competitive.''

The bill now goes to the Senate.

The car dealers' state trade association began to push for the legislation a few weeks after Ford Motor Co. expressed interest in buying into several of its north Atlanta dealerships.

Porter said if car makers are able to come in and reduce the number of dealers, ``there are fewer places to kick the tires, fewer places to get the deals.''

The bill would prohibit a manufacturer from operating a dealership that it partly owns. It also would limit to one year the amount of time a car maker can own a dealership that has gone out of business.