Tesla loses bid to sell cars in Utah, dealer lobbyists win


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

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

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Tesla has once again been denied permission to sell its cars directly to buyers in the battleground state of Utah.

Via a unanimous decision, the Utah Supreme Court handed Tesla Motors another setback this week.

The state’s top court upheld a 2015 decision that denied the electric-car maker a license to sell new cars, citing a state law that bans car manufacturers from owning dealerships.

DON'T MISS: Tesla takes dealership fight in Utah to Supreme Court

Although Tesla has continued to fight back against state sales bans, with more efforts focused on Utah over the last few months, Utah's franchised new-car dealers and their lobbyists won the battle to uphold a state law that prohibits any automaker from selling cars to retail buyers under any circumstances.

Representatives from Tesla said “the Utah ruling is disappointing for Tesla and all Utah consumers interested in consumer choice, free markets and sustainable energy.”

Despite the setback, the automaker’s plan is to continue to offer service for Tesla cars in the state.

2017 Tesla Model S

2017 Tesla Model S

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“We will continue to provide service and limited sales activities (through our used car license) at our location in South Salt Lake," its statement continued.

Although the company built a $3 million showroom in Salt Lake City, Tesla hasn’t been able to sell new cars at that location.

While the manufacturer says that it needs to be given the green light to sell its newest high-performance vehicles as its business depends on convincing customers, including residents of this large U.S. state, that its electric cars are better than a car with a gas engine.

READ THIS: Tesla delivered 25,000 electric cars in Q1 2017

The sponsor of the original bill to permit Tesla sales said she will run the bill up the flag pole once again.

Utah sales may be needed to meet CEO Elon Musk’s announced goal of selling 500,000 electric cars a year by 2018. Some industry analysts have suggested that Musk’s lofty goals are unrealistic.

Certainly the continuation of bans like this one won't help in achieving those goals.

—Ellen Richardson

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