Fledgling California bill calls for new sales outlets for hybrids

Ever wished you could get a five-pound jar of mayonnaise and a Toyota Prius at the same convenient location? Uh, let us explain. California drivers are crazy for hybrids; dealerships in the state have months-long waiting lists, presumably because demand is greater than supply. But California Assembly member Mark Leno (D) thinks the problem is the dealerships themselves acting as bottlenecks and raising prices. So he’s proposed a bill that would break their monopoly on new car sales, allowing hybrids to be sold through retail outlets like Costco or online through eBay or Amazon.com. According to a Consumer Federation of America study, the current sales and distribution system adds $2,000 to $3,000 to the price of a new car. Naturally, dealerships are opposed. And what Leno calls “a new idea, a new concept” (who can argue?) isn’t exactly catching fire: “We have nobody backing the bill from the private sector,” he said. “We wish there was.”