Last year, the State of Michigan signed a bill that banned an automaker from doing direct sales. This meant an automaker like Tesla couldn't sell any of their vehicles in the state. The move was widely applauded by the likes of GM and the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association. Tesla wasn't impressed by this and since then has been working on trying to change this.
But it hasn't been going well. While the company has been trying to educate lawmakers and state officials, it seems everyone in the state doesn't want to bring up the debate.
“There doesn’t seem to be much interest from not only the dealers, but manufacturers like GM that want to continue to shut us out of the market entirely,” said Jim Chen, Tesla’s vice president of regulatory affairs to The Detroit News.
“We’re an American company that is building cars in the United States that is using over 55 Michigan suppliers — that is spending over $120 million in parts and components from Michigan suppliers to build American-made cars. Why shouldn’t we be allowed to sell in Michigan?” Chen went on to say.
Terry Burns, executive vice president of the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association says Tesla is welcomed to the state, but they have to go through dealers.
“They’re an automotive manufacturer, and the Michigan law says that manufacturers need to use dealers in order to sell vehicles. That’s Michigan law. We would welcome Tesla here. But we would think that as with all the other businesses that come into Michigan, they would want to follow the law,” said Burns.
Interestingly enough, the state senate introduced a bill back in April to allow direct sales of three-wheeled “autocycles” to consumers in Michigan. A key automaker who stands to benefit from this is Elio Motors. In response, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a statement that criticized the move.
"Automobile manufacturers have an economic incentive to respond to consumer preferences by choosing the most effective distribution method for their vehicle brands," FTC officials wrote.
Tesla plans to continue their lobbying efforts in the state.
“We have the majority of next year to lobby, discuss and debate the merits of what we think is a co-existence of our business model in the state of Michigan," said Will Nicholas, Tesla’s government relations manager.
Source: The Detroit News