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Tesla Motors 2015 Strategy to Fight Dealer Laws, Stay Aggressive

Source: Associate Press
Source: Associate Press

Would Tesla ever build cars in Michigan? Musk: “It’s not out of the question. Maybe Michigan shouldn’t stop us from selling cars here.” (Image: Courtesy of Associate Press)

I was following the Elon Musk press conference from the International Car show via the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday afternoon and a whole lot of topics were addressed, including the Model X, dealership strategy, China sales, the Gigafactory and GAAP financials, among others.

During the interview portion of the event, Musk had the whole room laughing when he said (paraphrasing) “if I keep talking, we’ll be out of business very soon,” referring to Tesla’s stock sell-off once he said China sales numbers for December were down.

Musk also stated that “Tesla can make a few million cars a year by 2025.” If that happens, one would presume Tesla will be selling in all 50 states by 2025.

Musk responded to a dealership question and made a point of stating, “we need to have our own stores first,” before selling via dealerships. Musk’s subtle insistence on having his own stores, at first, didn’t make impression but could signify its stance with state legislators going forward.

Today, Rep. Tony Guerrera, a Democratic co-chairman of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee of Connecticut, proposed a new bill to allow the Tesla Motors to sell directly to the consumer. A supporter of that bill, Republican Art Linares, says,” “I think that Tesla is an innovative business. They’re creating jobs across the country. It’s a great vehicle. Just by passing this bill, we can create jobs here in Connecticut.”

I guess talk is cheap, but Pennsylvania opened its doors to five new Tesla stores last year and New Jersey has a stalled bill, A3216, which “would permit certain zero emission vehicle manufacturers to directly sell motor vehicles to consumers and requires them to operate service facilities.”

Maybe Chris Christie could tip the scales (sorry…could’t resist) toward removing these antiquated laws.

Also noticeable in the Connecticut Tesla bill article is Tesla’s lobbying or rebuttal to the state dealership association. It’s usually non-existent in articles or maybe a blog post from Elon Musk.

In the article, James Chen, vice president for regulatory affairs at Tesla, says, “This is Tesla trying to introduce new technology, frankly what we believe to be a superior technology. The dealers should be embracing the idea of an American company trying to come in.”

Chen also counters the dealer association’s assertion of what if Tesla goes out of business? Where will the Tesla owners go for service? According to the article, “Chen called it almost laughable that dealers are pitching themselves as the consumer’s advocate, saying there’s no guarantee they will remain in business.”

So am I reading into his statement about “more of our stores” in Detroit and a more aggressive company response in Connecticut? Not sure yet, but as 2015 progresses, senators and ambitious representative might see the light in making the right call or aligning themselves with their principles, instead of ancient dealer laws.

And, I’ll leave you this from yesterday’s conference:

Reporter: Would Tesla ever build cars in Michigan?

Musk: “It’s not out of the question. Maybe Michigan shouldn’t stop us from selling cars here.”

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