The lobbying effort around HB 7097, a bill in Connecticut that would enable Tesla to sell its vehicles directly to consumers without having to go through third-party dealerships, has intensified this week.
Tesla has now promised the state 10 stores by next year if the bill passes, while on the other hand, the dealerships warn of losing 10% of their 14,000 jobs in Connecticut.
Diarmuid O’Connell, Tesla’s vice president of business development, made the comment in an interview with the Hartford Business Journal yesterday:
“We’re talking 250 jobs in the near term,” he said.
The promise follows CEO Elon Musk penning a letter in the local paper to push for the bill last week.
On the other hand, Jim Fleming, president of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association (CARA), is continuing his own lobbying effort to stop the bill, which he managed to do the last 2 times that a similar bill to enable Tesla to sell in the state was introduced to legislators.
“If they were to build 10 stores, I would be surprised,” Fleming said referring to the bigger neighboring state of New York which has only 5 stores. Of course, Fleming doesn’t point out that direct sale restrictions pushed by his colleagues in New York have limited Tesla in the number of stores they can open in the state.
Furthermore, Tesla is pledging 10 stores in Connecticut by the end of next year at which point Model 3 production is expected to be at full capacity and therefore, Tesla should have a greater need for retail and service locations.
It’s not the first time that Fleming and CARA employ dubious tactics to try to stop Tesla’s direct-sale effort in the state. Last month, the local car dealer association sent ‘secret shoppers’ to try to shut down Tesla’s gallery and during the 2014 bill, they published a website called ‘TeslaCrash.com’ and used questionable methods to try to discredit Tesla, including featuring pictures and articles about benign accidents, hence the name of the domain.
This time around, Fleming is telling the public that the bill would push car dealerships to cut 10% of their workforce. He told the Hartford Business Journal yesterday:
“If this is about creating jobs in Connecticut, the Tesla bill as they’ve proposed it is a loser,”
In a report published last week, Acadia Center analyzed employment data in the auto dealer industry from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2012-2016 and the New York Department of Labor for 2009-2016 and they found that the introduction of a similar bill in New York had no negative impact on dealerships.
The current legislative session ends June 7, which means they only have another week to bring Tesla’s bill to a vote.