Let’s make one thing; the anti-Tesla bill Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed into law today only strengthens the language of an existing law banning direct automobile sales. Even though GM got behind the bill at the last minute, and the auto dealer lobby has a tremendous influence on local politics, this may have actually been a good thing to happen to Tesla.
How is having your business model banned from the auto capital of the country a good thing? First off watch Ricky’s video above, where the Governor defends his actions due to the overwhelming support the bill received in the state congress (of the 145 politicians to vote on it, just one voted against it). It’s probably a good time to mention that the good governor is under investigation for campaign fundraising no-nos, and he’s been seen as generally anti-worker and pro-business. This is the guy the people of Michigan voted for, so have at it I say.
However, the Governor goes on to say that he wants to encourage an open discussion about this law, which officially bans Tesla from operating a store within the state. Such a bill would need to have the blessing of two of Michigan’s most powerful political groups, the auto dealers and the automakers. While the dealers have every reason to be against any change to the status quo, this could be the opening the conventional auto industry has been waiting for. Several automakers have toyed with the idea of company-owned stores, but long-embedded laws enacted on behalf of the dealership lobby make it all but impossible in most areas of the country.
Rick Snyder pretty much had to sign this bill into law, regardless of your personal feelings on the guy (and I don’t much care for him myself to be honest). Seeing how New Jersey’s Chris Christie was lambasted for outlawing Tesla sales by both sides of the political spectrum, this is probably more a calculated political move than any sort of serious attempt to allow direct car sales right in automakers’ backyard. Snyder isn’t the only Tea Party Republican to extend an olive branch to Tesla Motors though, which proves the old adage that politics makes for strange bedfellows.
If…and this is a HUGE if…the auto industry does decide it wants to change the laws, and teams up with Elon Musk, it could shift the battle in Tesla’s favor nationwide.