Cue up R. Dean Taylor's Indiana Wants Me and think about the cops in their GM police cars chasing our hero Elon Musk out of the State for the crime of selling his electric cars directly to the public without a local dealer in between.
TreeHugger Mike has been writing about the war on Tesla for years, where in state after state, from North Carolina to Ohio to Texas to New York State and more have tried to stop the company from setting up showrooms and selling directly to customers.
Tesla has been selling in Indiana since 2014 but now a bill, purportedly sponsored by General Motors, would close them down. The curious thing about this is that the rules protecting dealers were developed to as a defence against General Motors and Ford in the first place; as James Surowiecki wrote in the New Yorker, dealers were afraid of losing their turf or being dropped.
Dealers recognized that much about their businesses was always going to be out of their control—automakers not only decide what cars get made but also dictate sales strategies and incentive plans. So they decided to protect what they could, using laws to insulate themselves from competition and from the risk of being dropped by the manufacturer.
And now these same laws are being used by GM to attack the newbie, to protect their turf.
Sebastian Blanco of Autoblog Green quotes the bill including the killer line : "All dealer licenses issued to a manufacturer under this chapter expire thirty (30) months after the date on which the first dealer license is issued to the manufacturer under this chapter. A dealer license issued to a manufacturer under this chapter may not be renewed." He explains:
It's that last line that would put an end to Tesla sales in Indiana. Tesla confirmed to AutoblogGreen that it sent out a letter asking its fans to tell their legislators to not pass the bill, which will need some dramatic public persuasion, since a vote on the third reading of the bill on February 2nd passed 92-3.
Tesla is not taking this lying down and fires off its own Bolt, asking for the support of Indiana owners and enthusiasts:
We need your help. Yesterday (2/18), the Indiana Senate Committee on Commerce & Technology held a hearing on a bill that would shut down Tesla in the state. Authored and pushed by General Motors, HB1254 with amendment 3 would prohibit any manufacturer from being able to hold a dealer license after December 31, 2017. Existing law allows ANY manufacturer to apply for a dealer license without the use of independent franchised dealers. Despite having a lawfully granted license to sell Tesla vehicles directly since 2014 at the Fashion Mall at Keystone; despite contributing over $42 million to the state through the purchase of parts and components from Indiana suppliers; and despite plans underway to construct a 26,000 square foot Tesla Service facility that will employ approximately a dozen Indiana residents and serve our customers, GM is pushing the Senate Committee to shut out Tesla.
That's one way to make room in the market for your electric Bolt car. It used to be said that "What's good for General Motors is good for America." These days, it seems the opposite is true.