Tesla's direct-sales effort gets rebuffed in Missouri

The judge's last name may have been Green, but that doesn't mean environmentally-minded Tesla Motors was given any quarter from the bench in Missouri when it came to an allowance to sell vehicles directly to consumers. Judge Daniel Green of the Cole County Circuit Court ruled last week that the state's granting of a dealers' license to California-based Tesla didn't mean that the electric-vehicle maker is legally allowed to sell cars in the state without using a franchised dealership, according to the St. Louis Business Journal. In his decision, the judge ruled in favor of the Missouri Automobile Dealers Association (MADA), which filed a lawsuit against the state in early 2015.

Tesla has three showrooms in the state – two in Kansas City, and one in University City near St. Louis – and is planning to open another in Chesterfield at the old Kemp Auto Museum site about 20 miles west of St. Louis. Still, any effort to either sell or service cars out of those facilities has effectively been thwarted, putting Missouri in the same boat as states such as Michigan, Utah, and Texas that continue to hold fast to their dealership distribution model. Tesla didn't indicate whether it would appeal the decision, according to the publication. A Tesla representative didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Autoblog on Tuesday afternoon.

Tesla's argument for direct vehicle sales gained some traction last month after a Sierra Club survey on consumer experiences at nationwide dealerships that sold EVs. Specifically, the poll revealed that Tesla stores provided by far the best consumer experiences of any automaker selling electric vehicles, while dealerships representing many other automakers that produce EVs fell well short of expectations because of issues such as lack of EV inventory, insufficiently recharged electric vehicles, and lack of product knowledge. Tell that to the judge, though.

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