In comments at the Automotive Press Association on Wednesday, Jeff Carlson, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, stated that consumers would much prefer to do business at traditional auto dealerships than to do business with Tesla’s retail model. Carlson’s statements were based upon the idea that dealerships often “discount” their prices and allow haggling, and that this somehow results in vehicles being cheaper when bought through middleman dealerships than when bought through a vertically integrated model which removes the middleman entirely. He cited a study which concluded that intra-brand competition from nearby auto dealers can result in decreased prices for new car shoppers.
Of course, there have also been studies showing that Carlson’s belief about consumers’ preferences is quite off-base. Polling data collected by Gallup for over 40 years ranks professions by the public perception of their honesty. The most recent data available, from December 2015, puts car salesmen near the bottom of the list, ahead of only “lobbyists” and tied with “members of Congress” and “telemarketers” with only 8% of the country considering car salesmen as above average in honesty and ethics.