As electric car sales accelerate, environmental advocates still worry

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In recent years, Hoffman Ford Lincoln general sales manager Billy Genereux has sold and leased from his East Hartford show room an increasing number of plug-in hybrid vehicles, which can run on both electricity and gasoline.

"We've been ordering a lot more the last couple years," said Genereux, noting that Ford C-Max and Fusion Energi have been the most popular brands with customers.

For every electric vehicle, or EV, Hoffman moves, the state pays the dealership $300. For buyers, the incentive is much higher — as much as $3,000 for a qualifying plug-in hybrid or battery electric vehicle, depending on the model, and $5,000 for a fuel-cell electric car. Combined with a federal rebate of as much as $7,500, buyers can reduce the cost of an EV significantly.

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Used car buyers urged to look out for flood-damaged vehicles

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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - State officials and auto retailers alike are urging used car buyers to beware of flood-damaged vehicles.

Gov. Dannel Malloy, Attorney General George Jepsen, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the state Department of Motor Vehicles and the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association asked people to do some research.

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Putnam FORD Uses New Financial Tool to Go Solar

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DARIEN, Conn., August 15, 2017 — Putnam Ford, a 20,000 sq ft automobile dealership and service center located just off interstate 395 will soon put its roof to work to generate approximately 95% of its total electrical needs. Such projects are not a new concept within the auto industry, but the method of finance deployed by owner Jake Dykeman is new and becoming available in a growing number of states.  The 108.8kW solar array has been financed by Greenworks Lending through a public private partnership called C-PACE, which stands for Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy.

The program provides private capital from lenders such as Greenworks for commercial building upgrades, retrofits, and new construction that improves energy performance. With C-PACE, repayment is made through the business’s property tax bill over the life of the upgrades, allowing most projects to be cash flow positive on day one.

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Congresswoman Esty discusses clean energy initiative at Crowley auto dealership in Plainville

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PLAINVILLE — U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty on Monday highlighted clean energy investments by Crowley Ford as part of the state’s Green Bank program.

“It’s been very exciting,” said Ken Crowley, of Crowley Auto Group.

In the past six years, the Connecticut Green Bank has financed more than 18,000 projects to help businesses lower energy costs and reduce their carbon footprints.

“There’s a lot of interest,” said Esty, during a visit to Crowley Ford.

Solar panels on the roof of the New Britain Avenue dealership were financed by the Green Bank’s Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) Program. Crowley said the solar panels are already paying for themselves with reduced energy costs.

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CARA Response

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I am writing in response to the July 7th Op-Ed titled, Connecticut Should be Tesla Country. Mr. Sibilla is wrong about numerous of his claims throughout the piece.

Tesla has worked relentlessly to undercut investments in Connecticut that over 270 franchised auto retailers have made in our communities, by changing state law to carve out an exemption for Tesla - a single company. The legislators agreed this law was unnecessary. Tesla could sell their vehicles at dealerships across Connecticut today; however they have made the choice not to and only want special treatment.

Mr. Sibilla claims that Connecticut needs to cut out the "middleman" in order to sell Electric Vehicles (EVs) and reach goals for clean air standards. Connecticut dealerships have sold more EVs in 2016 than any year before, 92% of all EVs last year. The Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association (CARA) continues to support Connecticut’s EV rebate program, CHEAPR in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

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Actually, Connecticut Should Remain Discount Country

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The first problem with Sibilla’s argument is, of course, that the referenced study has been thoroughly debunked. In fact, in February 2015, Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler described it as “bizarrely outdated” and gave it a maximum of Four Pinocchios for false claims.

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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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