Connecticut Considers Bill To Let Tesla Sell Direct To Buyers


Tesla Store opening in Westfield Mall, London, Oct 2013

Tesla Store opening in Westfield Mall, London, Oct 2013

Enlarge Photo

The battles between Tesla Motors and state auto-dealer associations over the carmaker's direct-sales model has seen victories and losses for both sides.

While some states have passed laws either banning or explicitly legalizing Tesla's company-owned stores and online sales, many still haven't weighed in either way.

DON'T MISS: Where Can Tesla Legally Sell Cars Directly To You? State-By-State Map

One of those is Connecticut, which may soon join the ranks of states in which the Tesla direct-sales model is explicitly legal.

Its state legislature will consider a bill that would let Tesla sell directly to customers, according to the Associated Press.

Tesla Store Los Angeles [photo: Misha Bruk / MBH Architects]

Tesla Store Los Angeles [photo: Misha Bruk / MBH Architects]

Enlarge Photo

Connecticut law currently prohibits carmakers from operating their own dealerships, and regulators denied Tesla a dealership license.

Now, lawmakers are pushing to change the law--in part because of the experience of one of their own.

CHECK OUT: Minnesota Tesla Owners Show Banned Model S To Iowa Electric-Car Shoppers

Republican State Senator Art Linares reportedly started the push after shopping for a Tesla Model S electric car.

He ended up crossing the state line to visit a Tesla store in White Plains, New York--a considerable trek from the district he represents in the middle of the Nutmeg State--so that he could test-drive a Model S, which he ultimately bought.

Tesla Store Los Angeles [photo: Misha Bruk / MBH Architects]

Tesla Store Los Angeles [photo: Misha Bruk / MBH Architects]

Enlarge Photo

Tesla currently operates seven Supercharger DC fast-charging sites in Connecticut, as well as one service center. But it has no Tesla Stores.

State dealers are already criticizing the move.

James Fleming--president of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association--claimed that allowing company-owned dealerships will ultimately be bad for car buyers.

MORE: Michigan Gov Snyder Signs Anti-Tesla Bill Called 'Corrupt Politics At Its Worst'

He used the example of Saab, claiming dealers made efforts to honor warranty claims and continue maintaining cars after the Swedish automaker went out of business.

Dealers have brought up the consumer-advocate angle in other attempts to defeat Tesla.

The experience of many Fisker Karma owners is less salutary, with many dealers having shuttered their outlets only months after selling several of the $106,000 range-extended electric luxury sedan--and leaving buyers on their own to find parts and service.

Tesla Store opening in Westfield Mall, London, Oct 2013

Tesla Store opening in Westfield Mall, London, Oct 2013

Enlarge Photo

Tesla vice president of regulatory affairs James Chen says the way dealers are pitching themselves as consumer advocates is "almost laughable," noting that there is no guarantee that individual dealers will remain in business, either.

If the new legislation passes, Connecticut will join Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Nevada, and Pennsylvania in explicitly legalizing Tesla direct sales.

Meanwhile, anti-Tesla legislation has been adopted in Arizona, Michigan, Texas, and Virginia so far.

Tesla is limited to one store in Colorado, and was forced to close its two stores in New Jersey last year--although some legislators support lifting the new direct-sales ban.

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