The latest way Tesla has been trying to get around states that ban direct sales (Michigan for example) is to apply for a dealer license. But this plan appears to not be working.
Automotive News reports that North Carolina's Division of Motor Vehicles has rejected Telsa's application to attain a second dealership license and said the automaker must go through a third-party dealership group. The ruling states that Tesla didn't meet the specific requirements to become exempt from a state law prohibiting manufacturers from owning dealers.
Tesla already has one store in North Carolina in Releigh and was hoping open a new store at their service center in Matthews (suburb of Charlotte).
The DMV order signed by signed by Administrative Hearing Officer Larry Greene, said there are “at least three independent dealers” in the market that would be able to own and operate a Tesla dealership “in a manner consistent with the public interest.”
The news gets slightly worse for Tesla. Earlier this month, The Detroit News got their hands on documents between the state of Michigan and Tesla ranging from 2014 to early 2016 detailing the saga of Tesla trying to sell vehicles in the state. The most recent development saw the Secretary of State’s office requesting Tesla to provide proof that it is a franchised dealer. If not, the state will not rule on the applications.
Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams in an email said this it’s “an explicit requirement in state law.” Tesla doesn't see it that way.
“We don’t harm any franchised dealers by selling directly; we have no relationships with any franchised dealers we would be unfairly competing against. Unlike if General Motors opened up their own store-owned dealership across the street from a franchised dealer that they gave rights to,” said Todd Maron, Tesla's general counsel.
We highly recommend checking out The Detroit News piece to get the full picture of this mess.
It is becoming very clear the only way for this to be settled once and for all is for it to go to the courts.