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Tesla’s stores are threatened again by lobbying from local car dealers in Missouri

When Tesla has issues with direct sales in some states, which is often these days as we recently reported, it generally means that the automaker can’t open new retail locations. However, things are even weirder in Missouri where Tesla’s current locations are actually threatened.

The local car dealer association is now pushing for new legislation that could allow it to sue the state over allowing Tesla to sell its cars directly to consumers.

Last year, Tesla was forced to temporarily close its stores in Missouri after the Missouri Automobile Dealers Association (MADA), a trade group representing car dealers in the state, tried to have Tesla’s dealer license revoked.

In December, a three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Tesla and dismissed the case in a big win for the automaker’s continuous fight for direct sales.

At the time, Doug Smith, president of MADA, said that they were looking now at other options.

Now they have convinced Republican Sen. Dave Schatz to introduce Senate Bill 872, which would give them the standing to file a lawsuit like they did last year.

Smith told the St-Louis Post-Dispatch:

“That’s really all we’ve asked since 2013 is a legal interpretation as to the merits of the (Department of Revenue) to allow manufacturers to sell direct to consumers. We believe the appellate court unintentionally created a scenario where the DOR could make arbitrary decisions without any legal oversight — a licensing decision without us or any private citizen the right to question or file litigation against it.”

A Tesla spokeswoman called the new tactic “anti-competitive and monopolistic”:

“Despite the Legislature and the courts both rejecting the Missouri Auto Dealers Association’s position in the past, the dealers continue to attack consumer choice by trying to force Tesla from selling its cars direct to residents. Tesla wants to continue to invest and grow jobs in Missouri, while giving consumers the choice to buy the car they love. The proposed legislation is again anti-competitive and monopolistic, and Tesla will continue to fight for the rights of consumers and the many jobs that it has created in the state.”

The company currently operates 3 locations in Missouri and it is reportedly building a fourth store and service center.

Tesla says that it has “more than 1,000 customers and more than 2,000 Model 3 reservation holders in the state.”

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