Connecticut legislators are considering a bill that would let manufacturers, like Tesla, sell vehicles directly to the public.
Sponsored by Senator Art Linares (R), a public hearing on State Bill 198 was held by the Connecticut General Assembly’s Transportation Committee last week.
“Granting Tesla a corporate loophole is a risky business and will circumvent longstanding consumer protections and jeopardize local businesses that have operated under these laws in good faith for over 40 years,” said James Fleming, president of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association.
“Connecticut’s car dealers have offered to sell Tesla vehicles like we do all other electric vehicles,” continued Fleming. “But Tesla touts its renegade status, and at this point a consumer can buy a Tesla only from the manufacturer in California.
Tesla, however, believes that sales will plunge if its electric cars are sold alongside gasoline vehicles at a traditional dealer.
“Direct interaction with consumers allows [Tesla] to educate consumers about our vehicles, as well as the benefits of electric vehicles as a whole,” said Diarmuid O’Connell, vice president of corporate and business development for Tesla Motors, at the public hearing.
“These laws are being exploited by franchised dealers to prevent car companies with non-traditional sales models, such as Tesla, from entering the market.”
Under the current law, Connecticut can’t issue Tesla a dealership license because the state bars manufacturers from selling vehicles directly to consumers. It’s a technicality that Tesla has become very familiar with. Four other states have similar blocks in place: Texas, Michigan, Arizona and New Jersey.
The opposing viewpoints in Connecticut also mirror debates carried out around the country. Last month, the Missouri Automobile Dealers Association (MADA) sued the state’s Department of Revenue and its director. The MADA contends that the department violated state law when it issued Tesla a Missouri dealer license.
Connecticut isn’t the only state considering changes to open the door for Tesla sales. In Arizona, lawmakers are currently debating a similar bill. The Arizona House Commerce Committee voted in favor of the bill earlier this month. A similar bill was introduced last year in Arizona, but died before it was passed.