Tesla scored a major victory on Wednesday after the California-based electric car maker was given the green light to sell its vehicles to consumers within the state. Lawyers from the state Division of Motor Vehicles concluded that state law barring auto manufacturers from selling directly to consumers was only applicable to franchise auto dealers and not Tesla, who operates independently through company-owned stores.
With its business license finally approved, Tesla is planning on opening its first showroom in Rhode Island on Route 2 in Warwick. Tesla will be selling its fleet of premium electric vehicles at 870 Quaker Lane, which is the site of a former Hyundai dealership. While the majority of details about Tesla’s first store within the state remain unknown, expectations are high that the Silicon Valley-based electric car maker would formally start selling its cars within a few months.
Ironically, state law that originally barred Tesla from establishing a sales presence in Rhode Island has become a pain point for Ford and Toyota, automakers that have previously tried to file for similar licenses to sell direct to consumers, but failed because of their use of franchised dealerships.
Unlike the ongoing saga taking place in Michigan, Rhode Island has adopted a far friendlier stance to the increasing influence of Tesla in the auto industry. Last summer, R.I. Gov. Gina Raimondo met with Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk at the National Governor’s Association meeting in Providence. After their conversation, the Rhode Island governor openly expressed her support for Tesla’s and its future ventures in the state.
“I would like Tesla to be able to sell here. Right now, I see Teslas driving around in Rhode Island, and they are purchased in Massachusetts. It would be a great thing if they could be purchased in Rhode Island, so we get the sales-tax revenue, and for our customers,” she said, according to a report from the Providence Journal.
As Tesla continues its push towards further expansion into the United States, “anti-Tesla” states such as Michigan seem to be fighting a losing battle against the Musk-led electric car maker and energy company. Just recently, Tesla opened job postings for a service role in Michigan, despite the presence of an ongoing lawsuit between Tesla and the state.