Every now and then we see old laws being used by dying industries take a plunge at stopping innovation. Uber & Air B'n'B are two others that come to mind.
The bigger problem for the dying industries is that they're taking on companies that at their core solve problems and disrupt. As opposed to being pathetic and continuing to prolonge the inevitable, they should focus their efforts on product development/sales channels. Or maybe even become a little innovative themselves.
Its easy to say that at the macro scale, but what are you suggesting car dealerships do on the micro scale? Learn how to build their own cars and sell them in defiance of the current laws on the contingency that the judge rules in Tesla's favor?
I would like to see emerge a car-buying agent. The agent would deal with all manufacturers and used car lots (still a need for this) and help the buyer get exactly what they want at the best price.
However, there will always be some new car retailers because some people like to buy new cars in person and drive them immediately. I think the standards for sales staff will continue to change away from the old commissioned, "pal" model to the new non-commissioned, quant/car nerd model. It is a change that seems to be defining this generation of workers.
These agents actually exist. This is how my grandfather has bought cars in the past two decades. He gives the agent a set of parameters and the man shows up with a car my grandfather is willing to purchase.
Such agents are common in the US, they are called "brokers". Brokers are especially good in negotiating with multiple dealers, and getting the exact car you want from the dealer with the lowest price by getting dealers to swap cars. Service can be very good; brokers will pick up the car from the dealer, truck it to you, and take away your old car. Brokers customarily arrange whatever financing the buyer wants. Brokers work around the stupid franchising laws by arranging the actual sale paperwork to be from the chosen dealer to the car buyer, with the broker collecting a commission. The nicest part of buying through an auto broker is that you never have to see or talk to a dealer salesperson.
The auto industry (in the USA at least) has a huge negative reputation for unethical conduct by the dealerships, especially in sales and service (for which they are claiming protection). It's going to be exceedingly difficult to find sympathetic jurors.
I couldn't agree more. I've heard _very_ few flattering stories from coworkers and friends over the decades of their experiences with car dealerships and their service.
When you factor in something unusual, like a Wankel engine, the experience gets exponentially worse. Just browse any RX-7 or RX-8 forum and you'll see nothing but horror stories whenever anyone asks "where should I have my car serviced?".
So much for the dealer's investment in "expensive equipment and training". They don't... they hire the cheapest labor that meets their loose requirements.
Now take that difference even further and eliminate the ICE and replace it with 6k+ Li-Ion cells with their own cooling system, an AC induction motor, high powered inverter and the related heavy cabling, and you're going to have massive confusion and problems in a dealer whose primary sales and training is for conventional vehicles.
Of course, a possible answer could be _exclusive_ dealerships with _extremely_ strict requirements for training and such, but I'm sure there are probably laws against that as well.
It was arguably better to keep them on life support as a means of providing a much more controlled transition from ICEs to EVs.
Ultimately, the ICE car companies still have the innovator's dilemma in front of them. It's not that they don't see the benefits of new technologies, they just don't have a path that allows them to maintain their current size and infrastructure at the same time.
A few of the things Tesla is capitalizing on:
1) Dell's "just in time" manufacturing.
2) Google's use of commodity hardware for scaling. Big iron servers vs linux boxes that can fail individual is like the the li-ion batter pack with several thousand cells vs large nickle-based batteries.
3) Toyota's quality based on open, healthy, workplace relationships that put quality ahead of quantity.
4) Apple's retail store model that seeks to inform without a pressure to buy using a simplified comparison model.
5) The benefit of being the disrupter instead of the disrupted.
6) Engineering focused leadership instead of sales focused leadership; a solid product sells itself.
7) Infrastructure to support interstate EV travel.
In time, the entrenched auto companies will likely fail or shrink to shells of their former selves. Much of what needs to change has been a problem for 30 some years and runs orthogonal to what they're used to.
Yes, we know for a fact it would be better because our ideology tells us that is true. We don't need to actually care about or measure specific outcomes, we can know all things just by applying the simple principle that "the market" is always right.
It's not the only choice, just the most likely one.
It's certainly possible for a business dedicated to distribution and sales to provide an experience superior to that of a manufacturer doing sales on the side. It's tougher in this case because cars are a big-ticket item, so manufacturers have an easier time justifying their own distribution and sales network than somebody who makes a trinket you need to sell at Walmart. However, the bigger problem is that car dealerships today are in no way optimized for providing an experience superior to anything.
Maybe manufacturers need to change dealer pricing structure. If they're paying millions for licenses, training and equipment, it sounds like the manufacturer treats that like a profit center. Dealers need to accomplish specific goals, if they're a franchise or company store.
Do their job better and compete. Nobody in his right mind will object Apple for selling in their own stores. Why should car dealers have such unfair advantage to prohibit manufacturers to sell their goods?