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Tesla Hits Back In Battle With Connecticut

The Tesla Gallery in Greenwich.
The Tesla Gallery in Greenwich. Photo Credit: Google Maps

Will 2019 be the year that Tesla finally makes inroads in setting up a retail location in Connecticut?

For the fourth consecutive year, Tesla is attempting to convince lawmakers in Connecticut to alter laws that prohibit the direct sale of vehicles to buyers by manufacturers, rather than through a franchise dealership.

Tesla’s business model only calls for direct sales to consumers.

Elon Musk’s company has butted heads with the state before, having a vehicle gallery Tesla was running forced to “cease all functions,” claiming that the Greenwich Avenue dealership was acting as a dealership, against state laws. Tesla has made it a rule not to sell their vehicles to independent dealerships, citing a “fundamental conflict of interest.”

Attorneys for Tesla argued that the Connecticut gallery was simply an opportunity to educate potential consumers on their products, along with an opportunity to test drive their electric fleet. A Superior Court judge disagreed last year, forcing Tesla to seek a different course of action.

However, with new backing from environmental groups in the state, Tesla is looking to take another shot at setting up shop at certain areas in Connecticut. An educational forum has been scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 30 to discuss the benefits of electric vehicles for Connecticut officials.

“We are thrilled that Connecticut finally has an EV owner as Governor,” the Connecticut Electric Vehicle Coalition and EV Club of CT wrote in a joint letter to Gov. Ned Lamont. “Our organizations and our members agree with you that a green economy is a strong economy.”

“Why would it make sense for Connecticut consumers to go across state lines to New York or Massachusetts or someplace else and buy a car when they could buy it here in Connecticut and keep those dollars and keep those jobs here,” Tesla Director Rohan Patel recently questioned.

Not all decision makers in Connecticut are rallying behind Tesla, however. In a statement on their website, the Connecticut Automotive Retailer Association laid out its opposition regarding “special treatment to an out of state corporation.”

“CARA remains opposed to any legislation providing Tesla Corporation a Loophole from existing pro-consumer and pro Connecticut based businesses,” the statement says in part. “All CARA members and their employees are urged to call your State Representatives and Senator to express our strong disagreement with giving special treatment to an out of state corporation at the expense of the 270 local auto dealerships and our 14,000 hard working employees.”

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