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Tesla Michigan officially opens its doors, lets us peek inside

But The Company Still Can't Legally Sell Cars In The State

A couple of Michigan legislators showed up when Tesla Motors officially reopened the state's old Riviera Tool LLC factory under its control. Given the state's attitude toward the electric vehicle maker's efforts to sell cars directly in the state, they have some nerve. But we're guessing everyone played nice.

As of late last month, Tesla was officially operating the tool and die plant in Cascade Township, which is located just outside of Grand Rapids and about 150 miles west of Detroit, according to Michigan's WOOD television broadcast station.

The factory makes stamped-metal parts and employs about 100 people. The company has been around for almost 70 years, though has endured bankruptcy and foreclosure proceedings, so things haven't always gone smoothly. That said, Tesla is hiring new workers to keep up with growing demand and is planning on upgrading some of the factory's tools. Tesla acquired the factory this spring.

An additional indignity may have been the grand-opening presence of state senator Arlan Meekhof (R-Olive Township) and state representative Rob VerHeulen (R-Walker), according to MLive. They're part of a state legislature that has kept Michigan as one of five US states that won't let Tesla follow through on its model of direct sales to prospective customers. Like states such as Texas and Arizona, Michigan's notable for its strong car-dealership lobby. So while about 300 Model S sedans are on Michigan roads, none of them were bought (legally, at least) within the state limits.

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