Tesla's fight to challenge dealer franchise laws moved to the home state of the American auto industry this week, as the governor of Michigan signed a controversial bill that excludes Tesla from selling its electric cars directly to consumers.
"Tesla's quest to own its stores has brought to light issues that have long faced the industry." – Adam Jonas
Experts agree it was probably already illegal for Tesla to sell cars in Michigan, as the state's franchise laws require that cars be sold through dealerships. But, the legislation closed a gap in the law that Tesla might have been able to exploit.
Ironically, the bill sailed through both houses of the state legislature with little fanfare this year, as voters and officials have been preoccupied with midterm elections. It's not even a new law: just an amendment to an existing rule that touches on a number of issues, including transaction fees charged by dealers to consumers during the sale process.
The controversy seemingly exploded overnight, as a last-minute change in the language of the bill – which appeared aimed at Tesla – strengthened Michigan's franchise laws. It wasn't until the bill was already on the desk of Gov. Rick Snyder that most of the public was even aware of it, or of the implications of the 11th hour changes.
Not surprisingly, Tesla was peeved.