Tesla Store Los Angeles [photo: Misha Bruk / MBH Architects]Enlarge Photo
From Jonathan Swift's "modest proposal" to MAD Magazine in the formative years of many pre-teen boys, it serves as a bracing reminder of the absurdity of life.
Fast forward to the ongoing state-by-state battles between Tesla Motors and lobbyists for state and national car-dealer interests, who are trying to get franchise laws modified to make the electric-car maker's direct sales to retail buyers illegal.
Last summer, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) launched the first in what's now a series of video cartoons, explaining why the car-dealer system is better for buyers than ... well ... that other way of selling cars that it wants to make illegal.
While Tesla and its direct-sales model are never mentioned, that NADA video enumerates the benefits it believes local dealerships offer: price competition, consumer safety during vehicle recalls, after-sale support and service even if a manufacturer pulls out of the market, local jobs and tax revenue, and simple convenience.
Frame from 'A Good Deal for All' video, by National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), June 2014Enlarge Photo
In due course, additional videos followed, expanding on these themes.
Now, Car and Driver has published an article along the same themes, entitled, "An Open Letter to Tesla, From Your Friendly Local Car Dealers."
In it, Ezra Dyer addresses the good people of Tesla Motors in the persona of a lawyer representing a dealer association--whose acronym we're not going to publish in this article.
In this persona, he writes, he will "explain the myriad ways in which your dealer-free sales approach is misguided."
Tesla Store opening in Westfield Mall, London, Oct 2013Enlarge Photo
We won't spoil the rest of the article, but Dyer clearly knows the industry, the politics, and the long history that led carmakers to offload the capital costs of distribution onto franchised dealers a century ago--and the subsequent state franchise-law regulations that enshrined them as the sole legal avenue from which to buy a car.
Dyer nods to statements made by General Motors in support of dealership legislation; in his words, "GM stands shoulder to shoulder with dealers, united in opposition to Tesla’s franchise-flaunting ways"--before nodding to all the reasons that an automaker like GM might well like to sell cars directly to its customers, but can't.
Will the piece have an impact on pending legislation to permit Tesla sales in some states, while specifically banning in others? Nah.
Will it give those who question the benefits of the dealership system some chuckles? Yeah.
Dealership lobbyists, of course, may not find it quite so amusing.