Tesla attempting to bypass dealers, dealers cry foul

This undated photo provided by Tesla Motors shows the Model 3 car. The promise of an affordable electric car from Tesla Motors had hundreds of people lining up to reserve one. At a starting price of $35,000 — before federal and state government incentives — the Model 3 is less than half the cost of Tesla's previous models. (Tesla Motors via AP)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Tesla makes a luxury sedan and SUV that runs on all electric power and thus are ‘zero emission’ vehicles. The price tag is well beyond most people’s budget.  But by the end of this year Tesla will start delivering the mass market, affordable Model 3 which with federal and state tax credits will cost under $30,000. They already have orders for over 400,000.

Tesla is attempting to get state lawmakers to allow them to sell directly to consumers rather than going through dealers like every other car brand. There are 250 auto dealers in the state employing about 14,000 people and they don’t see any reason why Tesla should be afforded this loophole in state law.

Paul Koerner of New Haven is a mechanic at Jackson Chevy in Middletown.

“It’s my opinion that it is looking for an exception and I  don’t see a reason for it based on the technical data,” said Koerner.

But Tesla believes they are different from everyone else because they are ‘electric only’ vehicles.

“We have the best opportunity to convince folks that electric vehicles are right for their driving lifestyle if we have our own stores to help educate them on that concept,” said Will Nicholas of Tesla who is Manager of Government Relations for the Northeast.

Many existing Connecticut auto dealers would like to sell Teslas, but Tesla believes they wouldn’t push electric vehicles as aggressively. Even though many of the existing auto dealers already sell electric cars and hybrids and that the majority of electric, plug-in and hybrid electric cars on the road in Connecticut were sold by the existing dealers.

“There’s no question at all it would cost jobs. Tesla is centralizing jobs,” said Tamera Jackson of Jackson Chevrolet.

“We think it’s a pro-consumer law that all the other manufacturers follow and we shouldn’t carve out an exception for one company,” said Jim Fleming of the Connecticut Auto Dealers Association.

This is the third year in a row that Tesla has been pushing this. They say Connecticut is very important in their marketing strategy.

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