2012 South Carolina Code of Laws
Title 56 - Motor Vehicles
Chapter 15 - REGULATION OF MANUFACTURERS, DISTRIBUTORS AND DEALERS
Section 56-15-45 - Ownership, operation or control of competing dealerships by manufacturer or franchisor; unfair competition against franchisee; preferential treatment defined; sales or leases to federal government or employees; sales of leased vehicles; manufacturer's e-commerce websites.


SC Code § 56-15-45 (2012) What's This?

(A) It is unlawful for a manufacturer or franchisor or any parent, affiliate, wholly or partially owned subsidiary, officer, or representative of a manufacturer or franchisor to own, operate, or control or to participate in the ownership, operation, or control of a new motor vehicle dealer in this State, to establish in this State an additional dealer or dealership in which that person or entity has an interest, or to own, operate, or control, directly or indirectly, an interest in a dealer or dealership in this State, excluding a passive interest in a publicly traded corporation held for investment purposes. This subsection does not prohibit the ownership, operation, or control of a new motor vehicle dealer by a manufacturer or franchisor:

(1) for a temporary period, not to exceed one year, during the transition from one owner or operator to another, except that on a showing by a manufacturer or franchisor of good cause, a court of competent jurisdiction may extend this time limit for periods up to an additional twelve months;

(2) during a period in which the new motor vehicle dealer is being sold pursuant to a bona fide contract, shareholder agreement, or purchase option to the operator of the dealership; or

(3) at the same location at which the manufacturer or franchisor has been engaged in the retail sale of new motor vehicles as the owner, operator, or controller of the dealership for a continuous two-year period of time immediately before January 1, 2000, where there is no prospective new motor vehicle dealer available to own or operate the dealership in a manner consistent with the public interest.

(B)(1) It is unlawful for a manufacturer or franchisor or any parent, affiliate, wholly or partially owned subsidiary, officer, or representative of a manufacturer or franchisor to compete unfairly with a new motor vehicle dealer of the same line make operating pursuant to a franchise in the State of South Carolina. Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, the mere ownership, operation, or control of a new motor vehicle dealer by a manufacturer or franchisor pursuant to the conditions set forth in subsection (A) of this section is not a violation of this subsection.

(2) For purposes of this subsection, a manufacturer or franchisor or any parent, affiliate, wholly or partially owned subsidiary, officer, or representative of a manufacturer or franchisor is conclusively presumed to be competing unfairly if it gives preferential treatment to a dealer or dealership in which an interest is directly or indirectly owned, operated, or controlled by the manufacturer or franchisor or any partner, affiliate, wholly or partially owned subsidiary, officer, or representative of the manufacturer or franchisor, expressly including, but not limited to, preferential treatment regarding the direct or indirect cost of vehicles or parts, the availability or allocation of vehicles or parts, the availability or allocation of special or program vehicles, the provision of service and service support, the availability of or participation in special programs, the administration of warranty policy, the availability or allocation of factory rebates, or the availability and use of after warranty adjustments, advertising, floor planning, or financing or financing programs.

(C) It is unlawful for a manufacturer or franchisor or any parent, affiliate, wholly or partially owned subsidiary, officer, or representative of a manufacturer or franchisor to own a facility that engages primarily in the repair of motor vehicles, except motor homes, if the repairs are performed pursuant to the terms of a franchise or other agreement or the repairs are performed as part of a manufacturer's or franchisor's warranty. Nothing in this subsection prohibits a manufacturer or franchisor or any parent, affiliate, wholly or partially owned subsidiary, officer, or representative of a manufacturer or franchisor from owning a facility to perform warranty or other repairs on motor vehicles owned and operated by the manufacturer or franchisor or any parent, affiliate, wholly or partially owned subsidiary, officer, or representative of a manufacturer or franchisor.

(D) Except as may be provided otherwise in subsections (A) and (B) of this section, a manufacturer or franchisor may not sell, directly or indirectly, a motor vehicle to a consumer in this State, except through a new motor vehicle dealer holding a franchise for the line make that includes the motor vehicle. This subsection does not apply to manufacturer or franchisor sales of new motor vehicles to the federal government, nor to manufacturer or franchisor leases of new motor vehicles to employees of the manufacturer or franchisor. Nothing in this subsection prohibits a manufacturer or franchisor or any parent, affiliate, wholly or partially owned subsidiary, officer, or representative of a manufacturer or franchisor operating as a motor vehicle lessor from selling a motor vehicle to the lessee at the conclusion of a lease agreement between the two parties. Nothing in this subsection prevents a manufacturer or franchisor from establishing an e-commerce website for the purpose of referring prospective customers to motor vehicle dealers holding a franchise for the same line make of the manufacturer or franchisor.

HISTORY: 2000 Act No. 287, Section 2.

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