The FTC will hear eight hours of testimony on things like vehicle distribution, dealership locations, and direct vehicle sales today.
The nation's auto dealers are taking their fight against Tesla and its direct method of selling cars to consumers to the symbolic heart of the auto industry. In Michigan, a bill that would entrench the existing dealer networks and prohibit direct car sales to buyers has passed both the state's house and senate, and awaits Gov. Rick Snyder's signature.
The auto dealers around the US, the ones who are frantically trying to stop Tesla Motors from selling its cars directly to consumers, might just need to wait things out. The latest state to take an aggressive stance against Telsa's dealer-free policy is Michigan, but in an new interview with Autoline Daily, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that as the company grows, it may need to introduce franchised dealerships into its sales model.
Another brick falls as Tesla fights to practice its direct-to-consumer business model. A Massachusetts high court has thrown out a lawsuit seeking to block the electric car company from selling vehicles the Tesla way in the state. The Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, along with two dealers, claimed that Tesla was in violation of a law that protects affiliated dealerships from oppressive practices from automakers.
Even in the US states (like Texas) where Tesla is not able to sell cars at one of its stores, residents can now visit a virtual EV sales space. Thanks to Google Street View and the company's high-tech cameras, a digital visit to a Tesla store in Seattle on Westlake Avenue is now possible by clicking here. A slightly misshapen exterior view is available here.
Tesla Motors has been fighting to sell cars in many states, but has come up against laws prohibiting the electric automaker to exercise its direct-to-consumer business model. Such has been the case in Pennsylvania. Recently, though, Tesla worked out a deal with the Pennsylvania senate to approve a bill allowing five Tesla stores in the state, with the blessing of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. The bill, though crafted with Tesla in mind, doesn't specifically name the California-based
Our friends at Engadget, tech-obsessed sister site of Autoblog, have taken an in-depth look at the reason why it's so difficult for Tesla to sell its cars directly to consumers, the same way that Apple, for instance, can sell you an iPad at an Apple Store. As you're probably aware, the whole sordid affair can be traced back to dealer franchise laws, which vary dramatically state to state, all with the stated goal of protecting your local neighborhood car dealers from unfair competition.
If you've been holding your breath whilst waiting for the White House to respond to the We The People petition asking that Tesla be allowed to sell direct to consumers in all 50 states, you can finally exhale and simultaneously sigh – it has, at last, issued a statement about its intention to not get directly involved in the issue.
Tesla took two more steps towards being allowed to sell its vehicles as it chooses (that is, direct to customers) this week. Legislative efforts in New Jersey and New York both gave the California automaker legal permission (or near permission) to operate its stores. It's gotten so bad – or good, depending on your views, that other automakers are starting to speak up.
It's not quite the law that Tesla Motors can sell its car directly to customers in New Jersey, but the state has taken one step closer to that reality. Yesterday, New Jersey's Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee voted 4-0 to approve bill A3216, which would "Permits certain zero emission vehicle manufacturers to directly sell motor vehicles to consumers and requires them to operate service facilities."
When Tesla Motors feels like its under attack, it is not afraid to speak out. After state lawmakers in New Jersey voted to close the electric vehicle company's stores there, the company said it was an "affront to the very concept of a free market" and CEO Elon Musk compared the situation to mafia tactics. In Ohio, when the company learned about a fast-moving challenge, it quickly asked its fans and owners for help. That same move is now taking place in Missouri, where Tesla said a "sneak attack"
It looks like Elon Musk has a new group of allies over at the Federal Trade Commission. Writing on the FTC blog, three high-level FTC officials came out against the "protectionist" network of laws in the US that govern automotive dealers and prevent, in some cases, Tesla Motors from selling its cars directly to customers. They called the rules, "bad policy for a number of reasons."
Tesla sales in New Jersey were supposed to end today, following the state legislature vote a few weeks ago to pull Tesla's sales license there. At the eleventh hour, though, Gov. Chris Christie's administration has extended the deadline to April 15. The specifics of the situation are that the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) is going to give new car dealers until the middle of the month to submit their franchise agreement (which, of course, Tesla stores don't have). That means, for now,
National and regional dealership associations have it in for Tesla Motors. For the past few years the organizations have been pushing lawmakers – to whom, it bears mentioning, they have made generous financial contributions – for legislation that would make it difficult for the Californian automaker to continue with its direct-to-consumer, company-store sales model. This is, of course, in addition to laws already on the books which make it illegal for manufacturers engaged with exist
Tesla has a special history with the state of New Jersey, having delivered the 500th Roadster there in 2009. Fast forward to 2014, though, and the electric vehicle company is having a decidedly less-positive experience in the Garden State. In short, Tesla's ongoing dealer fight has turned sour, and thing are potentially going from bad to worse today.