Tesla’s fight to be allowed to sell its cars directly to consumers without having to go through third-party car dealers is taking a wild turn in Connecticut.

They are now going to the Connecticut Supreme court over some ridiculous claims from car dealers that Tesla was using its gallery to sell cars.

The Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association (CARA) has been lobbying to retain its monopoly on vehicle sales in the state by using old laws that prohibit automakers from selling vehicles to consumers without going through franchise dealerships. Those laws exist to protect dealerships against potential unfair competition against their own automakers, but they are trying to apply them to automakers who have never had franchise dealerships, like Tesla.

They have been leading several efforts to block Tesla’s attempt to obtain an exemption to sell its vehicles all the way back to 2014.

The first year Tesla tried to get access to the market, CARA published a website called ‘TeslaCrash.com’ when the bill was first announced. The website was using questionable methods to try to discredit Tesla, including featuring pictures and articles about benign accidents, hence the name of the domain.

teslacrash

They stepped up their game over the years – resulting in an even more active campaign in 2017 that included sending ‘secret shoppers’ to try to shut down Tesla’s gallery in Greenwich.

In states where Tesla is not yet allowed to sell directly to consumers, they still open store-like locations called “galleries” where potential customers can come and get information about Tesla’s vehicles and they are directed to go online if they want to order due to the sale restriction.

The car dealers alleged that Tesla was actually selling cars out of the location and filed a complaint with the DMV, which Tesla appealed.

Tesla ended up losing, but they appealed and now the Supreme Court confirmed that they will be hearing the case (via CT News Junkie):

“The electric-vehicle maker appealed Superior Court Judge Joseph Shortall’s decision in December 2018 to Appellate Court. Seven months later the Supreme Court decided to hear the case.”

The automaker maintains that it “does no more at the gallery than display example vehicles, educate consumers about them and promote their benefits, and explain how consumers may lawfully purchase them online or at licensed Tesla stores in other states.”

The Greenwich gallery closed earlier this year as part of Tesla’s partial effort to move sales online.

No date has been set for the Supreme Court hearing.

Electrek’s Take

That’s kind of ridiculous; going all the way to the Connecticut Supreme Court over whether or not Tesla was selling cars out of a gallery in Greenwich – something it should undoubtedly be allowed to do in the first place.

Car dealers, and the state politicians who appear to be in their pockets, really need to be shamed for this.

If you have to use outdated laws to prohibit Tesla from competing with you, it’s because there’s a problem with your business model in the first place.

Instead, they are going as far as using the Supreme Court to stop them from having a presence in the state.

Tesla should have stores, or at the very least service centers, in Connecticut by now and I have yet to hear a sensible argument against that.


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