After passing the Connecticut House of Representatives by a wide margin, legislation to permit Tesla to sell it electric cars directly to Connecticut residents without using franchised dealers died in the state Senate after time ran out on this year’s legislative session. Tesla representatives attributed the lack of action to the need to act on budget measures before the end of the session, not opposition to the proposed legislation itself.
During the negotiations, Tesla asked for permission to open 5 stores within the state but agreed to accept a provision for only 3 in order to move the process forward. It currently has a company service center in Milford, near New Haven.
Asked if the company would continue to accept the 3 store limit if the legislation is reintroduced in the next legislative session in February, 2016, Will Nicholas, government relations manager for Tesla said, the company would “probably reevaluate our strategy” based on its level of business in Connecticut. “We would have been a bit stifled with the current concessions that we made,” he said.
James Fleming, president of the Connecticut Auto Retailers Association, called the proposed exemption in the state’s franchise law “limited.” He told Autoblog it left open “the future possibility of direct sell stores joining the dealer franchise system if they grow to their potential.” Some individual dealers, however, still opposed the legislation.
Will Nicholas says the company would like the General Assembly to resurrect the proposal during the upcoming special legislative session, but he is not sure lawmakers will do so. If no action is taken right away, Nicholas said Tesla plans to revisit the bill next year. “We’ll still have a very compelling argument to come and be regulated and fairly compete in the state,” he says.
Tesla presently has direct sales stores in 20 US states. It is barred from selling direct to the public in a handful, specifically Texas, Michigan and Connecticut. Fairfield County, Connecticut, is one of the wealthiest communities in the the entire US. No doubt that is one part of the state where Tesla would dearly love to set up one of its stores.