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.
The locally owned dealers in Connecticut provide cash and in-kind contributions to dozens of local charitable causes. They support local businesses such as newspapers, printers, and restaurants. Plus, employees contribute countless hours of their time serving on local boards and commissions, and helping non-profit organizations, schools, fire departments and youth sports. The dealers and their employees support local organizations because they live and work in their communities and want to give back.
Dealers throughout Connecticut, offer good, high paying jobs to over 14,000 employees at 270 new car dealerships. They employ technicians, sales staff, front office staff, marketing staff, financial staff, community relations staff, and human resource people. The employees are offered benefits, good salaries, and job training.
This bill will also slow the introduction of electric vehicles that have become so important to our environment. Dealers, hoping to help meet DEEP’s goal having 3.3 million EVs on the road by 2025, have become experienced at selling and servicing EVs. In 2016 dealers over sold over 90 percent of all EVs, far out pacing Tesla’s corporate stores model.
Finally, the argument that when a person buys a Tesla out of state they are not paying Connecticut sales tax is simply not true. Connecticut consumers pay taxes here in Connecticut when they register their car. The dealerships pay sales tax, corporate taxes, payroll taxes, and local property taxes. All this money goes to our municipal and state governments.
There is no need for this new legislation and it will hurt existing jobs and small businesses.