Tesla has been fighting in various states to allow for direct sales of their vehicles. The most contentious being the state of Michigan which enacted a law in October 2014 banning automakers from selling vehicles directly to consumers. Tesla has been working hard to try and change the law by offering test drives and education to legislators, to no avail. Even the Federal Trade Commission has called on the state to rethink this law. But Michigan is sticking to its guns.
So Tesla decided to do the unexpected, apply for a Michigan dealer license.
The Detroit News reports the California electric vehicle builder submitted applications in November to the Michigan Secretary of State Office for a dealer license. Recently, Tesla sent in follow-up information to the office.
Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodham tells the News that Tesla is applying for a 'Class A' dealership license, which allows it to sell new and used vehicles. The license requires the dealer to have a “repair facility as part of their business or have an established relationship with a licensed repair facility.”
Woodham went on to explain the office is currently reviewing the paperwork and will have a decision in the next month or so.
It is unclear who submitted the documents to the Secretary of State.
Michigan Information & Research Service Inc., a news service based in Michigan's capital - Lansing - first reported the story. The service said Tesla could contract anyone - aside from itself - to set up a dealer. Tesla could even send a former employee to open a dealer where “in which it mandates the dealership look, act and do business exactly as the Tesla-run stores.”
A Tesla spokesman tells AutoblogGreen, "As recently amended, current Michigan law prohibits Tesla from being able to license its own sales and service operations in the state. Submission of the application is intended to seek the Secretary of State's confirmation of this prohibition. Once confirmed, Tesla will review any options available to the Company to overturn this anti-consumer law."
Along with Tesla's application, a 22-year old graduate of the University of Michigan has launched a petition to repeal the direct sales ban. Mick Yuille has formed a ballot committee called Eliminate (i) to force the Michigan legislature to act. If they don't, his proposal will go on the ballot for the people to decide. Yuille needs 252,000 signatures by June 1st for this happen.