Tesla cuts ties with Connecticut town that rejected potential showroom

Credit: Tesla

Tesla is cutting ties with South Windsor, Connecticut, after the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously rejected the automaker’s proposal to open a showroom in the town. Direct-to-Consumer sales, which Tesla utilizes to help customers avoid the stressful process of dealing with dealership franchises, are illegal in Connecticut, and two town planners said the showroom would cost jobs and hurt consumers.

Tesla proposed to build a showroom location on Buckland Road in South Windsor due to its location, which is close to an Apple Store and Whole Foods Market. Developer John Hauser, who is working with Tesla, said the automaker’s potential showroom location would be ideal next to an Apple Store and Whole Foods because of the automaker’s status as an “evolving green energy company,” the Hartford Courant said. The location Tesla wanted to assume was formerly an LA Fitness health club.

However, town planners rejected this proposal and suggested Tesla move to another location that was closer to franchises operated by large automakers that still utilize the dealership model.

Hauser said Tesla will take its business elsewhere:

“I appreciate the fact that whether I did a poor job of explaining or whether you just don’t accept the fact we’re not a traditional car dealership there’s nothing I can do about that. But we’re probably not going to an alternative site down the road. We’re probably just going to go to the next town that views us differently.”

Tesla planned to utilize the location as a Service Center, but a portion of the application also included a Sales Shop, which Hauser wanted to cut from the proposal as he was familiar with the State’s laws against Direct-to-Consumer automotive sales.

The same situation arose in East Hartford, CT, last year, as Hoffman Auto Group sued Tesla, claiming it was hiding the real reason it planned to open a Showroom. According to its suit, Hoffman said Tesla was attempting to sell cars directly to consumers in violation of State laws. The East Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission revoked Tesla’s permit for the Showroom.

The same arguments are being brought forth in this case, as a Ford dealer in South Windsor said that dealerships protect consumers who would otherwise be undermined by Tesla’s sales model.

An employee from Hoffman also stated to the Commission, “Direct sale EVs like Tesla are expensive luxury vehicles and they are a very small percentage of the vehicles sold.”

Dealerships are not a place people typically like to be. A 2016 study found that 34 percent of people would rather wait in line at the DMV than buy a car. 26 percent of people would rather do their taxes, and 52 percent of Americans feel anxious or uncomfortable when at a car dealership.

I’d love to hear from you! If you have any comments, concerns, or questions, please email me at joey@teslarati.com. You can also reach me on Twitter @KlenderJoey, or if you have news tips, you can email us at tips@teslarati.com.

Joey Klender: Joey has been a journalist covering electric mobility at TESLARATI since August 2019. In his time at TESLARATI, Joey has broken several big stories, including the first images of the Tesla Model S Plaid, the imminent release of the 4680 Model Y through EPA certification, and several expansions to the Lucid AMP-1 factory in Arizona, to name a few. His stories have been featured in several publications, including Yahoo! Finance, Fox News, CNET, and Seeking Alpha. In his spare time, Joey is playing golf, watching MMA, or cheering on any of his favorite sports teams, including the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles, Miami Heat, Washington Capitals, and Penn State Nittany Lions. You can get in touch with joey at joey@teslarati.com. He is also on Twitter @KlenderJoey.
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