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Searching 2023-2024 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

The Vermont Statutes Online have been updated to include the actions of the 2023 session of the General Assembly.

NOTE: The Vermont Statutes Online is an unofficial copy of the Vermont Statutes Annotated that is provided as a convenience.

Title 9 : Commerce and Trade

Chapter 108 : Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, Distributors, and Dealers Franchising

(Cite as: 9 V.S.A. § 4085)
  • § 4085. Definitions

    The following words, terms, and phrases when used in this chapter shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:

    (1) “Board” means the Transportation Board as established in 19 V.S.A. § 3.

    (2) “Coerce” means the failure to act in a fair and equitable manner in performing or complying with any terms or provisions of a franchise or agreement; provided, however, that recommendation, persuasion, urging, or argument shall not be synonymous with coerce or lack of good faith.

    (3) “Dealership facilities” means the real estate, buildings, fixtures, and improvements that have been devoted to the conduct of business under the franchise by the new motor vehicle dealer.

    (4) “Designated family member” means the spouse, child, grandchild, parent, brother, or sister of the owner of a new motor vehicle dealer who, in the case of the owner’s death, is entitled to inherit the ownership interest in the new motor vehicle dealer under the terms of the owner’s will, or who has been nominated in any other written instrument, or who, in the case of an incapacitated owner of a new motor vehicle dealer, has been appointed by a court as the legal representative of the new motor vehicle dealer’s property.

    (5) “Established place of business” means a permanent, commercial building located within this State easily accessible and open to the public at all reasonable times and at which the business of a new motor vehicle dealer, including the display and repair of vehicles, may be lawfully carried on in accordance with the terms of all applicable building codes, zoning, and other land-use regulatory ordinances.

    (6) “Franchise” means all agreements and contracts between any new motor vehicle manufacturer, written or otherwise, and any new motor vehicle dealer that relate to the operation of the franchise and purport to fix the legal rights and liabilities of the parties to such agreements or contracts, including agreements pursuant to which the dealer purchases and resells the franchise product, performs warranty and other service on the manufacturer’s products, leases or rents the dealership premises or agreements concerning the dealership premises, or construction or renovation of the dealership premises.

    (A) “Franchisee” means a new motor vehicle dealer who enters into or is currently a party to a franchise with a franchisor.

    (B) “Franchisor” means any manufacturer, distributor, distributor branch or factory branch, importer, or other person, partnership, corporation, association, or entity, whether resident or nonresident, that enters into or is currently a party to a franchise with a new motor vehicle dealer.

    (7) “Fraud” means, in addition to its common law connotation, the misrepresentation, in any manner, of a material fact; a promise or representation not made honestly and in good faith; and the intentional failure to disclose a material fact.

    (8) “Good faith” means honesty in fact and the observation of reasonable commercial standards of fair dealing in the trade as defined and interpreted in 9A V.S.A. § 1-201(b)(20) of the Uniform Commercial Code.

    (9) “Line-make” means motor vehicles that are offered for sale, lease, or distribution under a common name, trademark, service mark, or brand name of the franchisor or manufacturer of the motor vehicle.

    (10)(A) “Manufacturer” means any person, resident or nonresident, who manufactures or assembles new motor vehicles, or imports for distribution through distributors of motor vehicles, or any partnership, firm, association, joint venture, corporation, or trust, resident or nonresident, that is controlled by the manufacturer.

    (B) Additionally, the term manufacturer shall include the following terms:

    (i) “Distributor” means any person, resident or nonresident, who in whole or in part offers for sale, sells, or distributes any new motor vehicle to new motor vehicle dealers or who maintains factory representatives or who controls any person, firm, association, corporation, or trust, resident or nonresident, who in whole or in part offers for sale, sells, or distributes any new motor vehicle to new motor vehicle dealers.

    (ii) “Factory branch” means a branch office maintained by a manufacturer for the purpose of selling, or offering for sale, vehicles to a distributor or new motor vehicle dealer, or for directing or supervising in whole or in part factory or distributor representatives.

    (11) “Motor vehicle” means every vehicle intended primarily for use and operation on the public highways that is self-propelled, not including farm tractors and other machines and tools used in the production, harvesting, and care of farm products.

    (12) “New motor vehicle” means a vehicle that has been sold to a new motor vehicle dealer and that has not been used for other than demonstration purposes and on which the original title has not been issued from the new motor vehicle dealer.

    (13) “New motor vehicle dealer” means any person who holds, or held at the time a cause of action under this chapter accrued, a valid sales and service agreement, franchise, or contract granted by the manufacturer or distributor for the retail sale of the manufacturer’s or distributor’s new motor vehicles, is not affiliated by ownership or control with a franchisor, and is engaged in the business of any of the following with respect to new motor vehicles or the parts and accessories for those new motor vehicles:

    (A) selling or leasing;

    (B) offering to sell or lease;

    (C) soliciting or advertising the sale or lease; or

    (D) offering through a subscription or like agreement.

    (14) “Owner” means any person holding an ownership interest in the business entity operating as a new motor vehicle dealer or under a franchise as defined in this chapter either as a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, or other legal entity. To the extent that the rights of any owner under this chapter conflict with the rights of any other owner, such rights shall accrue in priority order based on the percentage of ownership interest held by each owner, with the owner having the greatest ownership interest having first priority and succeeding priority accruing to other owners in the descending order of percentage of ownership interest.

    (15) “Person” means every natural person, partnership, corporation, association, trust, estate, or any other legal entity.

    (16) “Relevant market area” means the area within a radius of 25 miles around an existing dealer or the area of responsibility defined in the franchise, whichever is greater; except that, where a manufacturer is seeking to establish an additional new motor vehicle dealer and there are one or more existing new motor vehicle dealers of the same line-make within a 10-mile radius of the proposed dealer site, the “relevant market area” shall in all instances be the area within a radius of 10 miles around an existing dealer.

    (17) “Motor home” means a motor vehicle that is primarily designed to provide temporary living quarters, built into as an integral part of, or permanently attached to, a self-propelled motor vehicle chassis or van. The vehicle must contain at least four of the following facilities: cooking; refrigeration or ice box; self-contained toilet; heating or air conditioning, or both; a potable water supply system, including a sink and faucet; separate 110-125 volt electrical power supply or an LP gas supply, or both.

    (18) “Non-franchised zero-emission vehicle manufacturer” means a manufacturer that:

    (A) only manufacturers zero-emission vehicles, including plug-in electric vehicles as defined in 23 V.S.A. § 4(85);

    (B) only sells or leases directly to consumers new or used zero-emission vehicles that it manufactures or vehicles that have been traded in in conjunction with a new zero-emission vehicle sale;

    (C) does not currently sell or lease, and has never sold or leased, motor vehicles in Vermont through a franchisee;

    (D) has not sold or transferred a combined direct or indirect ownership interest of greater than 30 percent in such non-franchised zero-emission vehicle manufacturer to a franchisor, subsidiary, or other entity controlled by a franchisor or has not acquired a combined direct or indirect ownership interest of greater than 30 percent in a franchisor, subsidiary, or other entity controlled by a franchisor; and

    (E) is a dealer registered pursuant to 23 V.S.A. chapter 7, subchapter 4. (Added 1981, No. 157 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. April 14, 1982; amended 2009, No. 57, § 1, eff. June 1, 2009; 2021, No. 63, §§ 1, 2, eff. June 7, 2021.)