Ohio senator with deep dealer ties proposes anti-Tesla bill

2012 Tesla Model S
2012 Tesla Model S
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The fight against customer-direct car sales by Tesla Motors continues around the US, and the California-based company can now count dealership groups in Georgia and Ohio among its adversaries. In Ohio, Tesla has opened company-owned stores in Cincinnati and Columbus and is now fighting a state dealership association that's pushing for legislation that explicitly outlaws direct dealer-to-public sales after a lawsuit against Tesla was dismissed last week, Automotive News says.

The proposed law (Senate Bill 260) would prevent any entity from selling vehicles if it "is a manufacturer, or a parent company, subsidiary, or affiliated entity of a manufacturer, applying for a license to sell or lease new or used motor vehicles at retail." Under Ohio's current laws, Tesla says its stores are perfectly legal, but clearly that would would drastically change if SB260 becomes law without some sort of provision to 'grandfather' dealers opened before the legislation passes. Ohio's dealers say Tesla threatens their network since it sets a precedent for other automakers to use the same practice.

The politician behind the bill received at least $42,825 from dealership owners, employees and PACs.

The politician behind the anti-Tesla bill in Ohio is Senator Tom Patton (R-Strongsville), who "received at least $42,825 from state and national auto dealership owners, employees, and political action committees (PACs) between 2002 and 2013," according to Media Trackers. His Facebook page is filling up with negative comments about his "crony capitalism" actions.

Meanwhile, a Georgia exemption from that state's prohibition of automaker-to-public sales states that a company can directly sell as many as 150 zero-emissions vehicles a year, the Atlanta Business Chronicle says. Tesla sold about 500 of its Model S sedans there last year, with the rest of the cars being registered in California. The automaker is looking to expand that exemption tenfold to 1,500 vehicles.

Georgia and Ohio join states such as Massachusetts, New York and Texas that have done battle with Tesla and its business model, with Texas thus far being the most formidable opponent. CEO Elon Musk said last year that he may go to the federal government to get such laws changed on a national level. That's not surprising since Tesla's preparing to start selling its Model X crossover and could unveil its cheaper EV (possibly called Model E) at the Detroit Auto Show next year.

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