The officials who voiced their personal support in a blog post are Andy Gavil, director of the Office of Policy Planning; Debbie Feinstein, the director of the Bureau of Competition; and Marty Gaynor, director of the Bureau of Economics. Their views do not necessarily represent the commission as a whole, they said.
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk has sought to keep its showrooms open in New York and New Jersey, while they are banned from states including Texas by laws that prevent automakers from selling cars to consumers outside of dealerships.
The electric car company sold just 22,000 autos out of the 15 million cars sold in the U.S. in 2013, which is not "a serious competitive threat to established dealers," but such "protectionist" laws could pose a threat to consumer options, the officials said.
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The National Automobile Dealers Association supports the state laws intended to give shoppers more bargaining power at independent dealerships rather than at stores owned by automakers.
"Consumers routinely turn to the Internet as a convenient way to comparison shop and buy products and services," the FTC officials said in the blog post. "We hope lawmakers will recognize efforts by auto dealers and others to bar new sources of competition for what they are -- expressions of a lack of confidence in the competitive process that can only make consumers worse off."
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