On Friday as the weekend was beginning, Tesla Motors issued a series of communications indicating a New York-based bill threatened to effectively shut down the electric car maker in the state, but it appears the emergency is for now over.
“The kill Tesla bill in NY was stopped in the 11th hour due to public outcry,” tweeted company CEO Elon Musk yesterday, “Am super grateful to everyone who helped.”
Prior to this, on June 21 Musk had tweeted to his 240,687-and counting Twitter followers saying: “Just heard that NY auto dealers are sneaking through a bill to shut down Tesla in NY. Please call your state senator!”
And encouragement via Twitter soon followed, as the drama was documented in brief.
“NY Assembly passing bill to shut down Tesla, but Senate holding the line. Appreciate senators resisting influence of auto dealer lobby,” said Musk also on June 21.
Tesla also issued a press release explaining the issues as it saw them:
The bottom line for New York consumers and New York suppliers is that if this bill passes, special interests in Albany will once again have gotten their way while robbing New Yorkers of choices in the marketplace, and Tesla will be put out of business in New York. The result would be that all of Tesla’s New York employees will lose their jobs. It means that New York-based suppliers to Tesla will lose business and New York consumers cannot buy the most advanced electric car in the world today. Banning Tesla from selling its vehicles is also a step in the wrong direction for reducing carbon vehicle emissions and the green environmental movement in New York. With the State of New York pushing so hard to lead green innovation supporting entire agencies for energy efficiency like NYSERDA, it is absolutely defies logic to ban Tesla from selling electric cars in New York.
The company also said Tesla’s intentions were to catalyze New York’s electric vehicle market, and at this stage, being forced to sell through dealers – “intermediaries” – would be counter productive, and “not work.”
“For Auto Dealer Associations to claim that restricting competition is in the best interests of the public is wrong and defies obvious common sense,” said Tesla in its statement. “If we are kept out of New York, it forestalls progress and defeats innovation.”
Tesla also noted jobs it had created in New York and said: “Tesla remains committed to bringing electric vehicle technology and its customer focused sales and ownership experience to New York consumers, while complying with all local and state laws.”
While Tesla asserts it follows laws, there are specific rules mandating franchised, third-party dealers must be the ones who sell cars in New York, just as similar rules exist across the country.
Tesla has been waging a protracted battle as it insists its factory direct sales and service business is fair, correct, and in the moral right.
This contention has been opposed by auto dealer associations not just in New York, but in several states.
Whether Tesla will seek to take the case to federal court has been in question, but to date, nothing definitive has been said by Musk other than it was considering it.
It would appear safe to say Tesla remains opposed in New York and it seems to have won another battle, but the virtual war of wills remains ongoing.