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.

CT auto sales remain strong in changing dealership landscape

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Q&A talks about the state of CT's retail auto industry with James Fleming, president of the CT Automotive Retailers Association.

Q: According to some projections, auto sales this year will be flat or below last year's record numbers. What are you seeing in Connecticut? How will sales be this year?

A: Connecticut's auto sales this year are very good and will likely push Connecticut's new car sales well into the $11-billion range surpassing the $11.4 billion in sales recorded for 2015. Franchised new car dealers accounted for 20 percent of all retail sales in our state in 2015, which is the last full year for which I have figures from the National Auto Dealers Association.

Q: How does an event like the Connecticut International Auto show being held Nov. 18 to Nov. 20 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford help sales? Do attendees turn into customers? Are auto shows still relevant?

A: This year, 27 car manufacturers will showcase their latest models throughout the floor of the Convention Center. In addition, Harley-Davidson, Indian, Victory, and BMW motorcycles will be on display for the first time. Exotic cars and antique cars will also be on display. A variety of cars will be available for test drives. In addition, the Auto Show is excited to announce there will be an opportunity to test drive electric cars on Friday, Nov. 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Plug in America and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection are partnering with the show to offer this event.

Auto shows are very relevant. National studies by the Association of Auto Shows for North America (ASNA) confirm that attendees at auto shows are directly influenced by the show when purchasing a car: 64 percent of attendees say they are in the market to buy a car or truck in the 12 months after the show (up from 57 percent in 2014).

Fifty-six percent of attendees who purchased new vehicles post show said the show influenced their decision (from 51 percent two years ago). Over one in four auto-show attendees who planned to purchase a car had their mind made up which brand to purchase when leaving the show.

Dealers in Connecticut support auto shows because it gives consumers the opportunity to see hundreds of vehicles at one time and in one place, and then compare and contrast the vehicles without any sales pressure. The nice thing about our auto show is there is no selling allowed on the floor, so it is an easy and relaxed place to see lots of great vehicles. We do believe that auto shows are still very relevant.

Q: How goes the battle against Tesla? As its sales get stronger, will more be done to allow the electric-vehicle manufacturer to sell directly to the public? Does it hurt the retail market when people have to go out of state to buy Teslas?

A: Tesla could sell with local dealers under existing laws in Connecticut. However, they choose not to. Dealers have invested millions in a franchise system and the physical dealership structures that go in that system through a deal with manufacturers and regulators. This system protects the consumers if something goes wrong with the car, fosters local competition amongst dealers, and creates a balanced system between manufacturers and local dealerships.

Connecticut residents are able to buy the newest vehicles including zero-emission vehicles and hybrids from dealers across Connecticut, at all price ranges, and that are backed up by the best warranties. The Chevrolet Bolt, Nissan Leaf, fuel cell Toyota Mirai, Honda Fit, Chevy Volt, Mercedes B-Class, Ford Fusion, and the BMW i3 are currently in dealerships or will be shortly. The dealerships have the trained mechanics to work on these cars.

Q: Speaking of electric vehicles (EVs), how is the market doing in Connecticut? The state has invested heavily through the rebate program, known as CHEAPR, to offer rebates on electric-vehicle purchases. Would there be a market for EVs without the federal and state subsidies?

A: Dealers in Connecticut see the evolution to EVs coming and want to be part of it. They stepped up and provided free EV chargers for their customers to counter range anxiety, which is a real concern for Connecticut consumers and drivers. Even with highly cost-effective home charging, we need a safety net of chargers that might be developed and operated by the electric distribution operators with prices set by the state to assure viability and cost effectiveness for consumers. Connecticut dealers make their charging stations available to the general public and do so at no cost.

Dealerships are working hard to sell cars and educate consumers, but it is still a market in need of significant development. Only a small fraction of cars sold and driven are EVs and the dealers need help to effectuate this change until the technology gets cost competitive.

Connecticut dealers recognize their state is a low-emissions state and are committed to addressing climate change; they want a bright and clean future for Connecticut. Even though there is no profit in zero-emission vehicles and there is a limited market and awareness, dealers recognize they are a key in helping Connecticut's clean-energy policies and therefore partnered to build CHEAPR and EV Connecticut.


Tesla can play but only by the rules

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In John Stoehr’s piece, “Tesla Rewriting Rules of the Road,” (Connecticut Post, Oct. 2) he stated that language is power in the world of business. We agree. Tesla has cleverly named their new store in Greenwich a “gallery.”

By doing this, Tesla believes it can circumvent state law.

Their intent is clearly to “sell” cars; they are an auto maker. Stoehr even discusses how there is a sales team at the gallery. He also explains that the workers at the “gallery” will most likely try to educate people about how detrimental the franchise system is for businesses and Connecticut. We would like to speak the truth about these arguments.

Dealers have invested millions in a franchise system and the physical dealership structures that go in that system through a mutual partnership with the manufacturers and regulators. This system protects the consumers if something goes wrong with the car, fosters local competition among dealers, and creates a balanced system between national manufacturers and local dealerships.

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Tesla's flawed defense of direct sales

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Tesla has sought relief or exemption from franchise laws in various states where the laws prohibit direct sales by automakers. The company's sole argument so far -- until its recently added constitutional challenge in Michigan -- has been that Tesla's unique technology deserves such an exemption.

In every judicial proceeding and in the court of public opinion, Tesla and its academic supporters have claimed that a franchised dealer (independent of Tesla) cannot represent the brand properly. Tesla claims there would be conflicts with a dealer's other franchises, that the sales staff would focus on "easier to sell" gasoline-powered vehicles.

The company insists that it alone must educate potential buyers on the benefits of the Tesla electric vehicle. Tesla also claims that dealers prefer to sell cars from inventory on large lots away from the high-traffic retail areas, such as malls, that Tesla prefers.

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