Tesla Motors gallery in Houston Galleria, opened October 2011, with Model S on displayEnlarge Photo
This week has been a pretty good one for Californian automaker Tesla: it has shipped its first two production 2012 Model S sedans, announced a 45-day tour, and even sold out of its 2013 Model S Signature Edition sedans.
But in Massachusetts, the luxury car maker faces an uphill struggle to open a dealership there.
According to the attorney representing the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, the license selectmen approved for Tesla Motors should be revoked before it opens a new Mall store in Natick, MA.
The opposition to the Tesla store appears to stem from the claim that Tesla has not proposed to offer service facilities near the proposed Tesla store “at any time in the forceable future,” something which is required by state law for any auto dealer.
“We want to ensure that Tesla complies with all the same requirements that our new car dealership members are required to comply with,” attorney Scott Silverman said to a local news site. “We want to work with the town to make sure everyone is treated fairly.”
In Massachusetts, dealers have to do three things in order to obtain a license to sell new vehicles.
Be an agent of a new vehicle manufacturer or have a contract with a manufacturer to sell new vehicles.
Tesla Model S Alpha build
Tesla Model S Alpha buildEnlarge Photo
Sell used cars as an incidental or secondary part of the business
Have repair facilities on site that allow repairs to vehicles under warranty.
Those arguing against Tesla’s license claim its proposed site -- a downtown shopping mall store normally prohibited by zoning laws -- prevents the latter criteria from being met.
But the opposition is also likely to stem from entrenched opposition to automakers selling their cars directly to consumers, something prohibited in almost all U.S. states after successful dealer union campaigning in the 1920s.
Even in the states where it is allowed by law, automaker-owned dealerships like the Tesla-owned stores, are often met with strong opposition from traditional auto-dealers.
Will Tesla get its store in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts? Only time -- and we hope due process -- will tell.