The on-again, off-again relationship between Tesla and Connecticut is back on after the state legislature’s finance committee approved a bill that would allow the company to sell its electric vehicles directly to consumers within the state.
Securing a passing committee vote of 25-20 on Monday night, the bill that looks to defeat the outdated century-old franchise law heads back to the House of Representatives where it is likely to face continued opposition from the 250 traditional car dealers that employ roughly 14,000 employees, and vehemently oppose Tesla’s sales model.
Supporters of the bill believe that Tesla’s innovation should be considered even when it comes to how it sells its vehicles. “Let’s give innovation a chance,” said John Hennessy State Representative for Bridgeport. “I feel this technology, we need to embrace it here in the state Connecticut,” added Rep. Joe Gresko.
Rep. Terrie Wood for Darien who voted for the bill argues that the state is losing money by not allowing Tesla to sell within the state. “We’re losing sales to these other states. We need to look forward. We need to be inventive and be entrepreneurial. Let’s embrace this company and welcome them to the state. Our state needs business.”
Still, opponents like Senator Michael A. McLachlan and Rep. Jason Perillo warned that an approved bill could hurt a solid, dependable, locally owned retail car-franchise system, according to newstimes.
McLachlan calls Tesla “a cool car” but makes it known that he opposes any policy that would allow the car company to have an advantage over others. “Policy making should be about covering all, not just special interests. Not just one company. Tesla can turn on sales in Connecticut tomorrow. Tesla won’t do that. Why? We have successful business people in the state Connecticut willing to be partners with Tesla.” said McLachlan.
“I don’t feel comfortable kicking aside 100 years of franchise law in the state of Connecticut. I’m perplexed in trying to understand why the Legislature is willing to carve out a special exception for one company and kick aside this long history of success for new car sales in the state of Connecticut.”
The Republican State Senator warns that a passed bill that allows Tesla to skirt franchise laws could lead to a large number of lawsuits.
“It would seem to me that there is a very simple compromise right in front of us,” said Perillo. “We have a car manufacturer that wants to sell cars through dealerships in Connecticut and we have existing dealerships that don’t want to disrupt the system that’s been in place for many years. So in order for both of those parties to accomplish what they want, the solution is simple: Tesla can sell cars through the dealerships that exist in Connecticut right now.”
Tesla currently has a service center in Milford and a showroom gallery in Greenwich which is prohibited from offering test drives or conducting sales.