Tesla's strategy to sell cars, such as the Model S, through manufacturer-owned retail stores has rubbed traditional franchise auto dealerships the wrong way. The battle between Tesla and the Ohio Auto Dealers Association heated up quickly over the past week because a proposed amendment to an Ohio road-maintenance worker safety bill (Senate Bill 137) threatened to ban Tesla stores in Ohio. The automaker asked for help from its supporters to fight the amendment, and on Tuesday all 12 members of the Ohio senate passed the bill without it, Transport Evolved reports.
After the vote, Tesla sent out an e-mail to its supporters thanking them for their help, which you can read below:
Dear Tesla Advocate,
Earlier today, the Ohio House of Representatives Committee on Transportation, Public Safety and Homeland Security voted out Senate Bill 137 without the anti-Tesla amendment attached to it. We would like to thank all our customers and supporters who took the time to contact their local representatives and express their views on the matter. Your help was crucial to stopping this amendment! Tesla looks forward to continued investment in the state and serving our customers in Ohio, including at our new stores opening in Columbus and Cincinnati this month.
Thanks again for your support!
The amendment was added to SB 137 at the last minute, and the bill originally was to be voted on yesterday. But Tesla wrote e-mails to its advocates on Monday asking for help to fight the inclusion of the amendment, and the vote was quietly moved to Tuesday.
Both republicans and democrats expressed a desire to be careful with the issue of manufacturer-owned dealerships. Rep. Rex Damschroder (R-Fremont) says, "I've watched amendments go through at the last minute and making mistakes." He continues, "This issue is of such importance that it shouldn't be rushed," The Columbus Dispatch reports.
"Are we standing in the way of something that is innovative?" Rep. Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) reportedly asked. "This is an up-and-coming, 6,000-employee group that should be given an opportunity to expand."
So for now, Tesla's business model is legal in Ohio, and its first store in the state is scheduled to open in Easton on Friday. A week later the automaker will open a second store in Cincinnati. Of course, there is another incentive for Ohio to not block Tesla's business model. As Damschroder puts it: "[Tesla] might have future potential in Ohio - they are looking for somewhere to build their pick-up trucks," The Columbus Dispatch reports.