A new bill, House Bill 5606, would not allow a vehicle manufacturer to "directly or indirectly own, operate, or control a new motor vehicle dealer." It would also prevent Tesla from opening one of its we're-not-selling-cars-here 'galleries' in the Mitten State. Local news station WSJM talked to State Representative Aric Nesbitt (who introduced the bill) and he maintains that the bill is not "anti-Tesla at all." It just clarifies other laws, he said, adding that "if Tesla wants to have a real debate on current structure and state statute, I look forward to sitting down and meet[ing] with them, but them spreading lies about my bill, that's not a constructive use of their time."
Lies, eh? Tesla did call the legislation "harmful to consumers" and described the way it says the bill came about in somewhat conspiratorial terms:
A number of Michigan auto dealers are big contributors to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who has yet to announce if he will sign the bill. He has until Tuesday to decide. You can read the full text of Tesla's call for help below.
On the last day of the legislative session, the dealers managed to make a last-minute change to the bill in an attempt to cement their broader retail monopoly. Using a procedure that prevented legislators and the public at large from knowing what was happening or allowing debate, Senator Joe Hune added new language in an attempt to lock Tesla out of the State. Unsurprisingly, Senator Hune counts the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association as one of his top financial contributors, and his wife's firm lobbies for the dealers.
By The Tesla Motors Team
October 16, 2014
On October 1, the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association succeeded in passing a bill that is harmful to consumers. The bill, HB5606, was originally a single amendment to existing law designed to ensure that the car dealers can tack additional fees on to the purchase price for all vehicles (from any manufacturer) sold in Michigan. Such fees have a controversial history, are generally regarded with skepticism and have been the subject of consumer concern in other states.
Not content with enshrining their ability to charge consumers dubious fees, on the last day of the legislative session, the dealers managed to make a last-minute change to the bill in an attempt to cement their broader retail monopoly. Using a procedure that prevented legislators and the public at large from knowing what was happening or allowing debate, Senator Joe Hune added new language in an attempt to lock Tesla out of the State. Unsurprisingly, Senator Hune counts the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association as one of his top financial contributors, and his wife's firm lobbies for the dealers.
By striking a single, but critical, word from MCLA 445.1574(14)(1)(i), the law governing franchise relations in Michigan, the dealers seek to force Tesla, a company that has never had a franchise dealership, into a body of law solely intended to govern the relationship between a manufacturer and its associated dealers. In so doing, they create an effective prohibition against Tesla opening a store in Michigan.
This amendment goes even further. It also seeks to prevent Tesla from operating a gallery in Michigan that simply provides information without conducting sales. We could even be barred from telling people about our car.
This anti-competitive behavior mirrors similar tactics in New Jersey and Missouri, where dealers have resorted to backroom political maneuvers to shore up their monopolies. The dark-of-night tactics highlight the dealers' concerns that their arguments don't stand up well to public scrutiny.
Indeed, no consumer unaffiliated with dealers would ever want this. Officials at the Federal Trade Commission have spoken out about the potentially harmful consequences of the dealers' anti-competitive behavior, saying "competition ultimately provides the best protections for consumers." Leading economists have also weighed in, saying dealer monopolies come "at the expense of consumers and innovative technologies." And in September, in considering a similar body of law, the Massachusetts Supreme Court handed down a ruling that made it clear that such laws were not intended to exclude a manufacturer without franchise dealerships from selling to consumers directly.
While the car dealers' anti-consumer bill has made it through the legislature, it has yet to be signed into law. The bill is now on Governor Rick Snyder's desk. We are calling on concerned consumers to contact the Governor and urge him to veto this legislation and return the issue to the legislature for a full and open debate in 2015.
Please make your voice heard.
Other ways to contact Gov. Snyder:
Address: 234 West Baraga Avenue, Marquette, MI 49855
Mail: P.O. Box 30013, Lansing, MI 48909