320.645 Restriction upon ownership of dealership by licensee.—
(1) No licensee, distributor, manufacturer, or agent of a manufacturer or distributor, or any parent, subsidiary, common entity, or officer or representative of the licensee shall own or operate, either directly or indirectly, a motor vehicle dealership in this state for the sale or service of motor vehicles which have been or are offered for sale under a franchise agreement with a motor vehicle dealer in this state. A licensee may not be issued a motor vehicle dealer license pursuant to s. 320.27. However, no such licensee will be deemed to be in violation of this section:
(a) When operating a motor vehicle dealership for a temporary period, not to exceed 1 year, during the transition from one owner of the motor vehicle dealership to another;
(b) When operating a motor vehicle dealership temporarily for a reasonable period for the exclusive purpose of broadening the diversity of its dealer body and enhancing opportunities for qualified persons who are part of a group that has historically been underrepresented in its dealer body, or for other qualified persons who the licensee deems lack the resources to purchase or capitalize the dealership outright, in a bona fide relationship with an independent person, other than a licensee or its agent or affiliate, who has made a significant investment that is subject to loss in the dealership within the dealership’s first year of operation and who can reasonably expect to acquire full ownership of the dealership on reasonable terms and conditions; or
(c) If the department determines, after a hearing on the matter, pursuant to chapter 120, at the request of any person, that there is no independent person available in the community or territory to own and operate the motor vehicle dealership in a manner consistent with the public interest.
In any such case, the licensee must continue to make the motor vehicle dealership available for sale to an independent person at a fair and reasonable price. Approval of the sale of such a motor vehicle dealership to a proposed motor vehicle dealer shall not be unreasonably withheld.
(2) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Independent person” is a person who is not an officer, director, or employee of the licensee.
(b) “Reasonable terms and conditions” requires that profits from the dealership are reasonably expected to be sufficient to allow full ownership of the dealership by the independent person within a reasonable time period not to exceed 10 years, which time period may be extended if there is a reasonable basis to do so and is not being sought to evade the purpose of this section; that the independent person has sufficient control to permit acquisition of ownership; and that the relationship cannot be terminated solely to avoid full ownership. The terms and conditions are not reasonable if they preclude the independent person from an expedited purchase of the dealership using a monetary source other than profits from the dealership’s operation; provided, however, that the independent person must pay or make an agreement to pay to the licensee any and all reasonable prepayment charges and costs, including all unrecouped restored losses, associated with the expedited purchase of the dealership. For the purpose of this section, unrecouped restored losses are moneys that the manufacturer has provided to the dealership to restore losses of the dealership that the manufacturer has not been paid back through profits of the dealership.
(c) “Significant investment” means a reasonable amount, considering the reasonable capital requirements of the dealership, acquired and obtained from sources other than the licensee or any of its affiliates and not encumbered by the person’s interest in the dealership.
(3) Nothing in this section shall prohibit, limit, restrict, or impose conditions on:
(a) The business activities, including, without limitation, the dealings with motor vehicle manufacturers and their representatives and affiliates, of any person that is primarily engaged in the business of short-term not to exceed 12 months rental of motor vehicles and industrial and construction equipment and activities incidental to that business, provided that:
1. Any motor vehicles sold by such person are limited to used motor vehicles that have been previously used exclusively and regularly by such person in the conduct of its rental business and used motor vehicles traded in on motor vehicles sold by such person;
2. Warranty repairs performed under any manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty by such person on motor vehicles are limited to those motor vehicles that it owns. As to previously owned vehicles, warranty repairs can be performed only if pursuant to a motor vehicle service agreement as defined in part I of chapter 634, issued by such person or an express warranty issued by such person on the retail sale of those vehicles previously owned; and
3. Motor vehicle financing provided by such person to retail consumers for motor vehicles is limited to used motor vehicles sold by such person in the conduct of its business; or
(b) The direct or indirect ownership, affiliation or control of a person described in paragraph (a) of this subsection.
(4) Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit a distributor as defined in s. 320.60(5) or common entity that is not a manufacturer, a division of a manufacturer, an entity that is controlled by a manufacturer, or a common entity of a manufacturer, and that is not owned, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, by a manufacturer, as defined in s. 320.60(9), from receiving a license or licenses as defined in s. 320.27 and owning and operating a motor vehicle dealership or dealerships that sell or service motor vehicles other than any line-make of motor vehicles distributed by the distributor.
History.—ss. 10, 13, ch. 84-69; ss. 15, 20, 21, ch. 88-395; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 24, ch. 2001-196; s. 46, ch. 2002-1; s. 6, ch. 2003-269.