Tesla White House Petition Response Falls on Deaf Ears

Tesla Motors direct sales proponents sent a “We the People Petition on Tesla Motors” petition to the White House asking the government to let the company sell directly to consumers. In typical modern politics, the Tesla White House response was vague, slippery and off-topic, showing once more how disconnected modern politics are from the constituent’s wishes.

Tesla White House petition response

Sometimes, the modern state of politics is enough to discourage even the most ardent liberty defender. The We the People Petition on Tesla Motors petition gathered only a few signatures, 138,469. The Tesla White House response seems to pass the bucket down. You can read the We the People Petition on Tesla Motors below. More than a year after its filing, according to ArsTechnica, the official White House response was signed by Dan Utech, Special Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change. The answer boils down to, it’s up to Congress to answer this matter. The call for Tesla to sell direct is now part of the left and right political maneuvers, unfortunately.

What the Tesla White House petition response asks

The Tesla White House response clearly asks to allow Tesla Motors to sell directly to consumers in all 50 states. It bases the premise on the fact most people ask for freedom of choice and that the 60 years old dealership association requirement are woefully out of date and do not represent our fast changing landscape. People want more choice and certainly, very little people can claim very positive experiences walking out of car dealerships.

What the Tesla White House petition response doesn’t answer

Utech’s Tesla White House response, goes into tangents about how the current administration has done a great job improving the choice in America and saving the environment. But it still views EV drivers as environmentalists. It’s fair to say that most Tesla drivers are more tech savvy than environmentalists. The spin Meisters response further dives and twists, avoiding to answer the petition directly. The answer hits rock bottom when it mentions: “significant progress in promoting vehicle efficiency”, talking about gasoline car, completely unrelated to the pure electric car Tesla Motors sells. To drive the point further, it states something every Tesla Motors loyalist knows by now, that the company repaid its loan nine years ahead of schedule.

This leaves us to wonder two things. Does democracy still have a place where lobbies command more decision making than what the constituents demand from their representatives, or was this befuddling answer because only 138,469 signed the petition? In the meantime, the Tesla White House response to selling directly just puts pressure on Congress.

The We the People Petition on Tesla Motors petition response

tesla-white-house-petition

“Thanks for your We the People petition. We’re excited about the next generation of transportation choices, including the kind of electric vehicles that Tesla and others have developed. These companies are taking steps to help spur innovation in the promising area of advanced batteries and electric automobiles. Vehicle electrification and other advanced technologies are vital components of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and his commitment to addressing climate change and reducing carbon pollution, in addition to reducing our dependence on oil.

But as you know, laws regulating auto sales are issues that have traditionally sat with lawmakers at the state level.

We believe in the goal of improving consumer choice for American families, including more vehicles that provide savings at the pump for consumers. However, we understand that pre-empting current state laws on direct-to-consumer auto sales would require an act of Congress.

We are already making significant progress in promoting vehicle efficiency: new vehicle fuel economy has increased by 12% since 2008 and consumers now can choose from five times more car models with a combined city/highway fuel economy of 30 mpg or more, compared to just five years ago. In December 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that model year 2012 vehicles achieved an all-time high fuel economy, after increasing seven of the last eight years.

The President has taken historic action to spur more consumer choice — saving consumers money at the pump and reducing our dependence on oil. Here are some of the ways we’re helping to encourage the future generation of energy-efficient cars:

In 2012, the Obama Administration finalized groundbreaking standards that will increase fuel economy to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks by Model Year 2025. These standards will save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the gas pump and reduce U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels. And this spring, we also released standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, a move that will save vehicle owners and operators an estimated $50 billion in fuel, and save a projected 530 million barrels of oil. You can learn more about that here.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has a loan program to help spur the kinds of innovation needed to create the future of transportation. In fact, Tesla’s electric car won the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year while repaying its DOE loan 9 years early and earning the taxpayers about $17 million in profit. And DOE’s loan to Ford Motor Company to upgrade 13 factories across six states and to upgrade the fuel efficiency of a dozen popular vehicles has supported 33,000 jobs across the United States.

In September 2013, DOE awarded $45 million in funding for 38 new projects that to improve fuel efficiency, lower transportation costs, and protect the environment. The 38 new projects support the goals of the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, a public-private initiative to make EVs as affordable and convenient to own and drive as gasoline-powered vehicles within 10 years. Also as part of EV Everywhere, DOE has launched the Workplace Charging Challenge, with a goal of achieving a tenfold increase in the number of U.S. employers offering workplace charging for plug-in electric vehicles in the next five years.

As these initiatives show, the Administration is in favor of fostering competition in the market to help spur the kinds of innovation needed to support ongoing U.S. leadership in vehicle manufacturing and a potential range of new technologies.

Again, thank you for your petition.

Dan Utech is Special Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change”

Nicolas Zart

Author: Nicolas Zart

Nicolas' first car recollection at 6 years old was the back of a Bugatti 37A. After having driven an AC Propulsion eBox and the Tesla Roadster, it was clear where the future of the automobile was, the electric drive. Ever since 2006, he covers electric vehicle and alternative energy news, test driving, interviewing and filming it all.

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  • Steve

    Much as I strongly believe in the Tesla sales method, and that it should be universally allowed (I am a proud Tesla owner), I also agree with the sentiment of the response – the issue of selling cars directly to consumers is absolutely not a Federal issue.

    • http://www.aaronsenvironmental.com MacAaron

      99% of what Washington does is not really a federal issue, so if this were to become one, it’d be nothing new.

      • Nicolas Zart

        You’re right, but now it’s fodder for the left/right political game.

  • GoBlue88

    Not sure what you expected them to do other than that in response to this particular petition. While I agree that the written response was a bit all over the place and filled with typical political mumbo-jumbo, it is absolutely correct that only Congress can do anything about this on a national level. You seem to agree when you refer to “their representatives”:

    “This leaves us to wonder two things. Does democracy still have a place where lobbies command more decision making than what the constituents demand from their representatives, or was this befuddling answer because only 138,469 signed the petition? In the meantime, the Tesla White House response to selling directly just puts pressure on Congress.”

    That is precisely where the pressure should be put. If you remember your basic Civics class, the President can only sign into law that which Congress passes.

    The only other solution, which the response also correctly refers to, is for the individual states to handle it.

    • GoBlue88

      Full disclosure: I am also a proud Tesla owner.

  • mr_charlie

    the petition died because it is not the place of the white house to interject itself into these kind of disputes. finally the white house gets something right.

    • Nicolas Zart

      All valid points, and just to clarify, I’m fiercely independent and lean neither to the left or right.

      The article meant to highlight a few points, 1) only 138,469 signed it. 2) The White House had a great opportunity for PR, but the answers were not on target. 3) This is now part of the left and right ducking-game.

  • Barry

    I think the point of their response has been lost, they are saying we can’t do this unless we cause a giant all hell riot which we are not prepared to do. They want to be careful in admitting they can’t do it single handedly because they don’t want to undermine their authority, and they should not have used the opportunity to boast about their own viewpoints and accomplishments.
    What they should have said is its a state not a federal matter, we could make it a federal matter by declaring war on states authority using congress but we aren’t prepared to do that in this political climate, we would like this to happen because we support electric cars and consumer choice, but the only way it can be done today is for people in each state to take this on and convonce their leaders to pass the necessary legislation.

    • Nicolas Zart

      That’s well said and closer to what I was aiming for. There could have been better ways to answer that petition than the way it was handled.