Tesla can't sell cars in Michigan, but it can put them in a Nordstrom

Don't call it a dealership, because it isn't one. We checked it out.

  • Image Credit: Joel Stocksdale / AOL
For the past few years, Tesla Motors has struggled with the state of Michigan over direct sales to consumers. Most recently the state denied the company's application for a dealer license. Despite the ongoing setbacks, the company is still clearly determined to reach Michigan citizens, as evidenced by yesterday's opening of a Tesla "Gallery" in a Nordstrom store at the Somerset Collection mall in Troy, Michigan.

The Tesla Gallery in Michigan is operated by Tesla Motors, but, as a representative from Tesla's PR department explained, it is legal in Michigan because the "product specialists" are not allowed to discuss pricing, and prospective buyers can't buy cars there. The specialists working there are only allowed to tell customers about the cars and their features. This particular showroom also has a sign just inside the entrance that explains to guests that they can't buy cars at this location. Not only that, but it directs prospective buyers to the company's website, and provides contact information for a full Tesla dealer in Cleveland, Ohio. Tesla has also set up other Galleries in various states, some of which are allowed to sell Tesla cars to customers.

This particular Gallery only features one vehicle, a Tesla Model X, probably because of how small the space is. The Gallery is also literally inside the Nordstrom store, tucked behind racks of purses and phone cases. As strange as it is to see a vehicle showroom next to fashion accessories, this isn't the only Gallery in a Nordstrom. There are two others, one in North Carolina and another in California. Aside from the small size and unusual location, though, the Gallery felt like a full-fledged Tesla dealer, complete with an interactive screen with details on the line-up and samples of options and colors.

The opening of this showroom is also the latest in many efforts by Tesla and its fans to make the company's electric cars accessible to the citizens of Michigan. Following the state's recent denial of Tesla's dealer license application, the company filed a lawsuit against Governor Rick Snyder, as well as the secretary of state and the attorney general. Tesla owners have also volunteered to let interested parties test drive their personal vehicles so that they don't have to travel to a dealer in Illinois, Indiana, or Ohio. Two years ago, Tesla even advertised test rides in Windsor, Ontario, which is just across the river from Detroit. Whether this newest move will help convince Michigan to let Tesla sell cars directly is unclear, but at least Michigan citizens interested in the cars won't have to travel as far to see them.

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