Tesla Bill Dies Again

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HARTFORD, CT — Another General Assembly session has come and gone and Connecticut consumers will still have to travel to Massachusetts or New York to purchase vehicles manufactured by Tesla.

That’s because legislation allowing Tesla to sell cars directly to consumers was never raised for debate. It made it through the Transportation and Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committees, but was never called for a vote in either chamber.

It’s the third year in a row that Tesla legislation has failed to get through the General Assembly.

“It’s such a complicated issue,” House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said Wednesday.

Aresimowicz said he was reluctant to say that it was the objections of the state’s car dealers, who are subject to the regulations under the state’s motor vehicle franchise system, that killed the Tesla bill.

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Dealerships Matter

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Tesla wants to undercut investments in Connecticut that 270 franchised auto retailers have made in our communities, by changing state law to carve out an exemption for Tesla — a single company. This legislation is not necessary. Tesla could sell its vehicles at dealerships across Connecticut today, but it chooses not to and wants special treatment.

The new car dealerships throughout Connecticut offer good, high-paying jobs to more than 14,000 employees. Auto retailers have shown consistent job growth over the last five years, adding more than 2,300 jobs since 2012. Beyond the number of career opportunities, dealers offer competitive salaries, benefits and job training. The direct-sales model Tesla is requesting will allow outsourcing of many jobs. If this bill passes, 10 percent of employees at dealerships could lose their jobs.

Tesla claims franchised dealers are unwilling to sell electric vehicles and that Connecticut continues to lose sales tax revenue on vehicles purchased out of state. Sales and use tax is collected on all vehicles when registered in Connecticut. Connecticut dealerships had a 2016 payroll of $814 million and $10.3 billion in total sales — 18 percent of Connecticut’s retail sales — and paid $293 million in income taxes. Connecticut dealerships sold more EVs in 2016 than ever before, 92 percent of all EVs last year.

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Auto Dealers Fighting Tesla Pitch to Sell Cars Directly to Customers

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The long-running fight in the General Assembly between luxury upstart Tesla and the state's auto dealerships is back again, with the electric carmaker saying Connecticut is closing the door to innovation and new technology. 

But the state's auto dealerships — which employ 14,000 people and account for $11.4 billion in sales from Connecticut's auto showrooms — say Tesla is welcome to open an auto dealership if it wants to compete. They argue that Tesla's business model of selling directly to consumers would kill jobs and weaken consumer protections.

Lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow a car manufacturer, in this case, Tesla Inc., to sell directly to consumers and circumvent dealers. The measure, which has failed in the past, was approved this year by two legislative committees, though has not yet been voted on by the House or Senate.

Chip Gengras, president of Gengras dealerships in East Hartford, Meriden and West Springfield, Mass., downplayed Tesla's reputation for innovation. Lawmakers backing the carmaker see it as "shiny and new and they don't understand it," he said.

Tesla's supporters say the state's efforts to promote startup companies, spur business expansion and otherwise rev Connecticut's slow-growth economy are being undermined by politics and protectionist rules. Under state law carmakers generally, may not be issued a dealer's license.

"The state should be encouraging innovation instead of putting roadblocks in the way," said Avi Kaner, a Westport selectman who recently participated in a local Tesla presentation.

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Auto Dealers Cite Tesla Cheating Report, To Stop Exemption Bill

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Hartford: The battle between The Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association and Tesla is being waged on a new front.

Tesla with the support of legislators from both the Republican and Democratic parties is seeking the right to sell cars direct to the public.

Tesla currently operates showrooms in Greenwich and Milford and has “supercharging” stations in West Hartford and Darien.

Currently in Connecticut and several other states, auto manufacturers must utilize dealers to sell their cars. The dealers argue this has created significant competition and service advantages for consumers and that if sales were allowed directly by the manufacturer, competition, prices and services would suffer.

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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.