Tesla Bill Hurts Consumers

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I have worked for more than 20 years at the Scranton Motors dealership in Vernon and believe passage of the “Tesla Bill” will hurt me, fellow employees at dealerships and Connecticut consumers.

There is no benefit to this bill, which would permit direct sales to consumers by companies that manufacture only electric vehicles. Tesla could sell its cars in Connecticut dealerships today, however, it chooses not to.

Tesla wants an uneven playing field. I cannot understand why anyone would want to put my local job in jeopardy by giving special treatment to an out-of-state company.

Connecticut dealerships provide 14,000 jobs and protect consumers as the independent go-between for a customer and the manufacturer when there is a recall or warranty issue. Jobs at the dealerships include sales, service, human resources, public relations, IT, social media specialists and technicians. Dealerships also offer health benefits, vacation time, family and medical leave, workers’ compensation and job training.

I know our customers and work with them when they purchase their cars, need repairs or come in for service. Dealerships have a strong incentive to keep our customers happy.

Consumers get the best deals because of competition between dealerships — in sales and service — and that doesn’t happen in Tesla stores.

David Baeza, Manchester

CT coalition opposes direct EV-sales bill

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Business and labor groups said Wednesday they have joined forces to oppose legislation that would allow the direct sale in Connecticut of electric vehicles, including Tesla automobiles.

Presidents and members of the Greater Valley and Greater Norwalk chambers of commerce, as well as the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Metro Hartford Alliance and the United Auto Workers Union, Region 9A wrote lawmakers a letter urging rejection of HB 7097, "An Act Concerning the Licensing of New and Used Car Dealers."

The bill would grant an "unfair advantage for certain manufacturers of electric vehicles [by] allowing them to circumvent current laws through a loophole in which they could sell directly to consumers in Connecticut," the coalition said. Some cited Tesla as a direct beneficiary of the proposed law.

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Tesla direct-sale proposal unfair to auto manufacturers

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Decades ago, states across America passed a series of laws requiring the sale of motor vehicles through independent franchised car dealers, thereby making direct sale by manufacturers illegal.

As a result, today automakers are virtually the sole consumer product manufacturers in the nation forbidden from selling the very products they conceive, design and produce to their own customers. Sound fair? It is not.

Nonetheless, automakers built and invested in this mandated sales system that regulates every single aspect of the manufacturer-dealer relationship, right down to how much input a manufacturer can have over where and how its own products are marketed, displayed and sold.

There are aspects of the law governing the franchise relationship that add costs and inefficiencies; certainly pro-consumer systemic reforms are needed. But since all manufacturers are required to play by this same set of rules, no one automaker has a competitive advantage over any other. Until now.

Last month, the Connecticut General Assembly's Joint Committee on Transportation approved controversial company-specific legislation granting a lifetime exemption from franchised vehicle sales to a single manufacturer. That company is Tesla Motors. Now that is definitely not fair.

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Subaru Love Campaign

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A $26,618.00 check for Connecticut Children's Medical Center Foundation through the Subaru Love Campaign at Mitchell Subaru on March 23rd.

We just drove the all-electric Chevy Bolt and Tesla is officially in trouble

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(The Chevy Bolt.Hollis Johnson)
NBA superstar Charles Barkley made a now-legendary comment prior to the US Olympic basketball Dream Team playing Angola in 1992. 

"I don't know anything about Angola, but I know they're in trouble," Barkley quipped. The US went on to win by 116-48.

Tesla isn't the automotive equivalent of Angola, but at times I get the sense that General Motors considers itself the Dream Team: the car company that symbolizes US manufacturing might.

Both Tesla and GM have been to hell and back since the financial crisis. Tesla nearly went bankrupt in 2008, but was saved by a last-minute funding round on Christmas Eve. And GM did go bankrupt in 2009, after being bailed out by the federal government.

Fast-forward to 2016, however, and Tesla has a market cap of $40 billion and GM has been raking in cash for two solid years amid an SUV sales boom in the US.

While both companies have bounced back, there's no question that GM is better positioned financially to compete in the mass market EV space. 

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OP-ED | Traditional Dealerships Are Successful Because We Don’t Outsource Jobs

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For the third year in a row, a bill is before the Connecticut legislature that will significantly impact dozens of jobs at my dealership and thousands of others around the state. I cannot support HB 7097, the “Tesla bill,” which will ultimately hurt consumers around Connecticut.

My concerns about this legislation are that dealers in Connecticut are invested in creating a fair pricing system. However, Tesla would like their own unfair playing field. Also, supporting local dealers means local, good-paying jobs stay here, not online and not in California. Lastly, only dealers advocate for the consumer against manufacturers on warranty and Lemon law issues and during recalls.

Keep in mind that many of the jobs that Tesla has in its retail store model are based out of state. Traditional dealerships don’t outsource jobs, perhaps that is why we are so successful at selling vehicles. Let me repeat, there are fewer jobs created in the state under the Tesla model than the existing franchise model.

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Car dealers upbeat, but wary of Tesla's plans

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BRISTOL — Area car dealers say they are bullish on new and used car sales in the first quarter of 2017. However, dealers the Press spoke with voiced concern about the repeated attempt of electric vehicle car manufacturer Tesla to open retail markets in the state.

Ken Crowley, president of the Crowley Auto Group, with seven locations in Bristol, Hartford and Plainville, is a leading Connecticut dealer of foreign and domestic manufacturers. Products include Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Jeep, Lincoln, Kia, Nissan, Ram trucks and Volkswagen; recreational vehicles including Winnebago, Roadtrek and Evergreen; and a full line of commercial trucks.

Crowley said Washington’s Birthday kicked off strong sales interest at his dealerships.

"A lot of car buyers seem to wait for then." Trucks and SUVs, he said, now account for 60 percent of sales at Crowley.

He credits stormy weather and the fact that the price of gas hasn’t risen in recent months for the interest in heavier vehicles.

"Then, too the way that trucks are finished off now they’re beautiful as any car," Crowley said. "They have a smooth ride, are comfortable and get great mileage. As for SUVs, people like the size and four-wheel drive and the fact that you can drive to Costco, lower the tailgate, load up the back and you’ve got plenty of room."

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Tesla attempting to bypass dealers, dealers cry foul

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HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Tesla makes a luxury sedan and SUV that runs on all electric power and thus are ‘zero emission’ vehicles. The price tag is well beyond most people’s budget.  But by the end of this year Tesla will start delivering the mass market, affordable Model 3 which with federal and state tax credits will cost under $30,000. They already have orders for over 400,000.

Tesla is attempting to get state lawmakers to allow them to sell directly to consumers rather than going through dealers like every other car brand. There are 250 auto dealers in the state employing about 14,000 people and they don’t see any reason why Tesla should be afforded this loophole in state law.

Paul Koerner of New Haven is a mechanic at Jackson Chevy in Middletown.

“It’s my opinion that it is looking for an exception and I  don’t see a reason for it based on the technical data,” said Koerner.

But Tesla believes they are different from everyone else because they are ‘electric only’ vehicles.

“We have the best opportunity to convince folks that electric vehicles are right for their driving lifestyle if we have our own stores to help educate them on that concept,” said Will Nicholas of Tesla who is Manager of Government Relations for the Northeast.

Many existing Connecticut auto dealers would like to sell Teslas, but Tesla believes they wouldn’t push electric vehicles as aggressively. Even though many of the existing auto dealers already sell electric cars and hybrids and that the majority of electric, plug-in and hybrid electric cars on the road in Connecticut were sold by the existing dealers.

“There’s no question at all it would cost jobs. Tesla is centralizing jobs,” said Tamera Jackson of Jackson Chevrolet.

“We think it’s a pro-consumer law that all the other manufacturers follow and we shouldn’t carve out an exception for one company,” said Jim Fleming of the Connecticut Auto Dealers Association.

This is the third year in a row that Tesla has been pushing this. They say Connecticut is very important in their marketing strategy.

OP-ED | Tesla Needs to Come Clean With Consumers About ‘Full Self-Driving’

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The fusion of technology and innovation in our automobiles have given consumers options and features beyond their wildest dreams. However, with such innovation, there can be great risks to the safety and protection of consumers. When marketing these features, auto manufacturers must be careful to ensure they are not deceptively placing profits over the protection of their consumers.

Take California–based tech company, Tesla, for example. Tesla has begun to market and equip all of their automobiles with what they refer to as “full self-driving” hardware. Driver assisted features continue to rapidly evolve, and companies like Tesla need to ensure they are making the careful distinction between “driver assisted” and “full self-driving.”

Globally, Tesla is facing serious scrutiny for deceptively marketing this feature following numerous accidents. Transportation officials in Germany and China have called on Tesla to stop marketing the hardware as “self-driving,” as it gives the consumers a false sense of the actual capabilities of the car.

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Elon Musk's link with Trump could stall Tesla orders

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Are you on the waiting list for the Tesla Model 3 sedan?

You might have moved up the line for the mass-market electric car that's still under development.

At least one person is claiming to have canceled an order over Tesla CEO Elon Musk's connections with President Donald Trump and his administration. Others are saying they would if they had paid the $1,000 required to put a car on hold.

 

Some are also saying that Musk associating with Trump shouldn't be protested because it's good to have dissenting voices in places of power.

While Musk has described Mr Trump as "probably not the right guy" to run the United States, he agreed to serve on Trump's Strategic & Policy Forum and a manufacturing council. 

"The more voices of reason that the President hears, the better," he has said

Stamford car dealerships roll to sales records

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After roaring through 2016 with big gains, local automobile dealers are revving up for more growth in the next 12 months.

The industry showed its strength last year by producing a record 17.55 million in light-vehicle sales in the U.S. And a number of local auto sellers and experts are confident that the industry will ride the momentum to another year of record sales.

“Connecticut generally mirrors what happens nationwide,” said Jim Fleming, president of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association. “I think the outlook is going to be positive and that we will either meet or beat the 2016 numbers.”

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Electric vehicle rebate program gets $2.7M in funding

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A total of $2.7 million in new funding for a consumer rebate program aimed at promoting the sale of electric vehicles is now available, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Friday.

He shared the news at the 2016 Connecticut International Auto SHow in Hartford.

The Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate Program – known as "CHEAPR" – provides a cash rebate for residents, businesses, and municipalities that purchase or lease a battery electric, fuel cell, or plug-in hybrid vehicle. Fuel cell powered electric vehicles receive the largest rebate of $5,000, while plug-in hybrid and full battery electric electric vehicles receive incentives ranging from $750 to $3,000, based on battery size.

Funding for CHEAPR, which is administered through the EVConnecticut program, comes from money that was made available to the state as a result of the merger of Northeast Utilities and NSTAR. The merger of those companies, now known as Eversource Energy, was completed in April 2012.

"This rebate program puts money back into consumers' pockets while also supporting local retailers by helping make the price of electric vehicles competitive with a conventional car," Malloy said.

Since the launch of CHEAPR in May 2015 more than $2 million in rebates have been issued or reserved for the purchase or lease of 960 electric vehicles in Connecticut.

"Electric vehicle incentive programs are extremely effective, and this rebate helps consumers think about alternatives that are good for the environment as well as their bottom line when deciding to invest in a new car," Jim Fleming, president of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association.