The irony in the “Tesla versus auto dealers” fight is overflowing. The fact that blocking Tesla from making direct sales to customers is not seen as anti–free market by the politicians writing such laws is insane — and not “Insane Mode” insane. The corruption from money-sucking, customer-screwing dealers and their political allies is somewhat sickening. The fight probably doesn’t get any more fierce than it is in Michigan, the historical home of the USA’s biggest automakers.
Last fall, auto dealer lobbyists and their pals in politics slipped in edits to the state’s laws that very clearly banned Tesla from selling its electric cars directly to customers in the state of Michigan, just barely not mentioning Tesla by name and writing “Tesla shall not be allowed to talk to people in Michigan and disrupt our corrupt, money-grubbing business model.” Now, however, Tesla is doing its own lobbying to fight back. Can it beat the local bullies?
The Detroit News quotes Diarmuid O’Connell, vice president of business development for Tesla, as saying, “We’ve got a rabid fan base here who are buying cars everywhere else in the US and bringing them here, having them drop shipped here…. We can’t even have service here, which is incredible. It’s just incredible that in a free market of this sort and in a car culture like Michigan that we’re being held at a distance.” Ha, have to love that — rabid! Indeed, we are a bit rabid, are we not? Especially when it comes to this nonsense. And “held at a distance.” If that doesn’t tell you how disruptive the auto industry sees Tesla, you need a free-market-loving EV fanboi to pry your eyes open with a charging cable.
At the moment, if a resident of Michigan wants to test drive a Tesla, she or he has to go to Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, or somewhere further away to get in a store and go for a ride. Any wonder Tesla has kicked off a referral program to test out transitioning its sales work and budget to existing Tesla drivers?
“Meetings with dealers, automakers, legislators and officials from [Governor Rick] Snyder’s office have been ongoing, Jim Chen, Tesla’s vice president of regulatory affairs said Tuesday,” The Detroit News adds.
“We have been meeting throughout the entire year,” said Chen, who said he was in Michigan a week ago. “It’s something we’re continuing to work on.”
Chen also noted that Tesla works with 50 Michigan suppliers. Hmm, you’d think the government of Michigan would want to support a company that is so heavily supporting its auto industry… or at least not banish it from the state in a way that can only be seen as fighting the free market.
Only 5 states still ban Tesla’s direct sales approach: Michigan, Texas (you know, that free-market-hating land of hippies), Arizona, West Virginia (because it apparently can’t support anything clean), and Connecticut.
What’s the next chapter in the Tesla vs auto dealer war? We’ll see, and we’ll let you know, here on Gas2.