Tesla has long been a thorn in the side of high-level GM executives. Back when Bob Lutz was involved in the Chevy Volt program, he admitted that it was Tesla and its ability to create the Roadster that prompted him to kick the Volt project into gear."If some Silicon Valley start-up can solve this equation," he told Newsweek back in 2007, "no one is going to tell me anymore that it's unfeasible."

Well, now it's 2016 and both Tesla and GM have lower-cost, all-electric vehicles with 200+ mile ranges coming out soon (the Tesla Model 3 and the Chevy Bolt, respectively). Since they are more direct competitors than ever before, the companies have apparently decided to start attacking each other. GM CEO Mary Barra struck first. Speaking at the reveal of the Bolt EV at CES in Las Vegas two weeks ago, Barra said, "Unlike some EV customers, Bolt customers don't have to drive to another state to buy or service an EV." The reference is obvious, but the underlying issue is an important one. Tesla is not able to operate it's own stores in all 50 states because of arcane dealer laws in the US.

While Tesla quickly issued a statement in response to Barra's comment that was banal and positive – "Commitments from traditional car makers to build electric vehicles advance Tesla's mission to accelerate the advent of sustainable transportation. We hope to see all those additional zero-emission vehicles on the road." – but yesterday, at an FTC workshop on those dealer laws, Tesla general counsel Todd Maron struck back.

Part of the reason that the dealer laws aren't changing in the US is because of GM's efforts (among other entities, like dealer networks), Maron said. He repeated Barra's quote to the assembled crowd and said, "This shows that [GM's] interest here is purely competitive," he said, instead of being concerned about their dealerships or GM customers. "They are actually touting their ability to block us from selling directly and the fact that our customers can't buy our cars as easy as theirs." He said that customers have weighed in and the overwhelming majority support changing the dealer laws. Until that happens, expect to see a lot more sniping.

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