(1) As used in this section, "relocate" and "relocation" do not include the relocation of a new motor vehicle dealer within four miles of its established place of business or an existing new motor vehicle dealer sells or transfers the dealership to a new owner and the successor new motor vehicle dealership owner relocates to a location within four miles of the seller's last open new motor vehicle dealership location. The relocation of a new motor vehicle dealer to a site within the area of sales responsibility assigned to that dealer by the manufacturing branch or distributor may not be within six air miles of another dealer of the same line-make.
(2) Before a manufacturer or distributor enters into a dealer agreement establishing or relocating a new motor vehicle dealer within a relevant market area where the same line-make is represented, the manufacturer or distributor shall give written notice to each new motor vehicle dealer of the same line-make in the relevant market area of its intention to establish an additional dealer or to relocate an existing dealer within that relevant market area.
(3) Within sixty days after receiving the notice provided in subsection (2) of this section, or within sixty days after the end of any appeal procedure provided by the manufacturer or distributor, a new motor vehicle dealer of the same line-make within the affected relevant market area may bring a declaratory judgment action in the circuit court for the county in which the new motor vehicle dealer is located to determine whether good cause exists for the establishing or relocating of the proposed new motor vehicle dealer. Provided, That a new motor vehicle dealer of the same line-make within the affected relevant market area shall not be permitted to bring such an action if the proposed relocation site would be further from the location of the new motor vehicle dealer of the same line-make than the location from which the dealership is being moved. Once an action has been filed, the manufacturer or distributor may not establish or relocate the proposed new motor vehicle dealer until the circuit court has rendered a decision on the matter. An action brought pursuant to this section shall be given precedence over all other civil matters on the court's docket. The manufacturer has the burden of proving that good cause exists for establishing or relocating a proposed new motor vehicle dealer.
(4) This section does not apply to the reopening in a relevant market area of a new motor vehicle dealer that has been closed within the preceding two years if the established place of business of the new motor vehicle dealer is within four air miles of the established place of business of the closed or sold new motor vehicle dealer.
(5) In determining whether good cause exists for establishing or relocating an additional new motor vehicle dealer for the same line-make, the court shall take into consideration the existing circumstances, including, but not limited to, the following:
(a) Permanency and amount of the investment, including any obligations incurred by the dealer in making the investment;
(b) Effect on the retail new motor vehicle business and the consuming public in the relevant market area;
(c) Whether it is injurious or beneficial to the public welfare;
(d) Whether the new motor vehicle dealers of the same line-make in the relevant market area are providing adequate competition and convenient consumer care for the motor vehicles of that line-make in the market area, including the adequacy of motor vehicle sales and qualified service personnel;
(e) Whether the establishment or relocation of the new motor vehicle dealer would promote competition;
(f) Growth or decline of the population and the number of new motor vehicle registrations in the relevant market area; and
(g) The effect on the relocating dealer of a denial of its relocation into the relevant market area.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2015 Regular Session
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