But you can do something to helpWhen the incumbents do everything in their power to keep you out of the market, rather than try to compete with you directly on the merit of their products, you know you're on to something. Ever since Tesla has started selling the Model S electric sedan, auto dealer associations in various states have lobbied politicians (who sometimes have direct ties to the dealers, as we'll see below) to figure out how to make it hard or impossible for the EV company to do business in the state. Most of the time, they're using old laws that were designed to prevent something else entirely; the idea behind preventing carmakers from selling directly was to avoid having Ford compete against Ford dealers. In this case, Tesla doesn't have its own dealers to compete with, so it's only competing with dealers from other companies, something that the law never intended to prevent because, well, there's nothing wrong with it!
The latest example of anti-competitive, anti-democratic dealer shenanigans comes from Michigan. The weapon this time was an unrelated bill about various fees that dealers want to be able to charge their customers (great, uh?). At the last minute, a change was made to the bill:
Not content with enshrining their ability to charge consumers dubious fees, on the last day of the legislative session, the dealers managed to make a last-minute change to the bill in an attempt to cement their broader retail monopoly. Using a procedure that prevented legislators and the public at large from knowing what was happening or allowing debate, Senator Joe Hune added new language in an attempt to lock Tesla out of the State. Unsurprisingly, Senator Hune counts the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association as one of his top financial contributors, and his wife’s firm lobbies for the dealers.
(He and his wife get money from the people who will benefit from this scheme? In some places they would call that corruption...)
The devious move was accomplished by removing a single word from the bill (the word "its", if you're curious), and the effect is to prevent Tesla from opening a single store, gallery, or even an informational kiosk in the state.
How can these people sleep at night?
Are you outraged? Want to do something about it? Here's what you can do:
While the car dealers’ anti-consumer bill has made it through the legislature, it has yet to be signed into law. The bill is now on Governor Rick Snyder’s desk. We are calling on concerned consumers to contact the Governor and urge him to veto this legislation and return the issue to the legislature for a full and open debate in 2015.
Please make your voice heard.
Other ways to contact Gov. Snyder:
-Mail: P.O. Box 30013, Lansing, MI 48909
Just in case you are wondering why Tesla doesn't just go with dealers, here is their explanation why they have a different model.
Sadly, this sad state of affairs isn't limited to Michigan. If you look at the links below, you'll see a few of the most recent Tesla vs. dealers battles. There are many more, but this should give you an idea of how stacked the deck is against electric cars. Some people want to preserve the status quo at all costs.