A bill that would require the licensing of RV manufacturers and dealers doing business in California and creating a process for resolving disputes between them is awaiting the signature of Gov. Gray Davis, who is facing a recall election on Oct. 7.
Senate Bill 238 would require RV dealers and manufacturers to be licensed by the New Motor Vehicle Board, which also would settle disputes between dealers and manufacturers based on the negotiated agreement between the two. The existence of a manufacturer/dealer agreement would be a condition for obtaining a license.
“The board’s power is that you have to be licensed to do business in California and neither a dealer or a manufacturer would want to lose their California license,” said Ernie Friesen, chairman of the California Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (Cal/RVDA) Government Relations Committee and owner of All Seasons RV in Yuba City. “California is 10% of the RV market.”
Currently, the New Motor Vehicle Board regulates the relationship between automobile dealers and manufacturers. Consumers also would be able to seek redress against a dealer or manufacturer under the new law.
Versions of the bill have been pending in the California Assembly the last three years after efforts to forge RV-specific legislation with the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) failed.
“It (the dispute resolution system) will give dealers some clout if a manufacturer comes along and says, ‘Mr. Dealer, there’s a new
guy moving in down the street, and I like the way he parts his hair, we are dropping you and going over to him,’ ” Friesen said. “For a $200 filing fee, the board will make the decision whether the manufacturer has the right to do it or not, based on their dealer agreement.”
Most dealer agreements require that disputes between California dealers and their manufacturers be settled in the manufacturer’s state, Friesen said.
The bill is scheduled to become law on Oct. 12, four days after the recall election, unless Davis vetoes it, Friesen said. He noted that the bill could become law without the governor’s signature.
“We’ve got a good chance that this will become law,” he said.