Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com
October 9, 2012
The way Tesla sells their vehicles is very different from other automakers. Their seventeen stores are modeled after the Apple Store; most are in malls for anyone to walk in and look at the vehicles. If you want to order a Tesla, you can do an online reservation.
This has drawn the ire of dealers and dealer organizations, which have begun legal efforts to make Tesla's factory stores illegal. Their argument: "Tesla's factory-owned stores present unfair competition for rival dealerships, are inconvenient for consumers needing repairs and, if left unchallenged, ultimately threaten the franchise system," according to a new report from Automotive News.
"If a manufacturer sees that Tesla is successful with this kind of business model, who's to say they don't break out their own EV product lines and create a separate system that bypasses dealers? It's extremely problematic," said Bob O'Koniewski, executive vice president of the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association.
Four states (Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon) have complained about Tesla's business practices and are looking to the law to fight it. Other states have brought questions dealing with Tesla's stores.
"Tesla may not yet recognize the value of the independent, franchised dealer system, but as its sales increase, NADA is confident it will re-examine its business model. Other companies such as Daewoo did. All companies should be complying with existing laws in the same way dealers are required to," said Montana dealer and NADA Chairman Bill Underriner in a statement.
Tesla doesn't see a problem with their stores.
"We do what we're capable of doing, and we do whatever they let us do. It's unique for each location. If we can't be a dealer in a mall, we won't do reservations on-site. We tell people where to go on our Web site to make a reservation." said George Blankenship, Tesla's vice president of sales. "We just want to locate in high-traffic locations and interact with people when they are specifically not thinking of buying a car. We have no motivation to change the laws or how the car industry does its business."
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at email@example.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.