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.

Mr. Sibilla refers to a study by the Acadia Center that jobs will not be impacted by Tesla’s direct sale model. CARA does not agree with the study noted. The new car dealerships throughout Connecticut offer good, high paying careers to over 14,000 employees. In fact, auto retailers have shown consistent job growth over the last five years, over 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 of these jobs. If this bill passes, 10% of employees at dealerships will lose their job.

Mr. Sibilla argues that by not allowing Tesla to sell directly to consumers in Connecticut limits a consumers choice. This is simply not true. Connecticut residents may purchase a car out of state and have it delivered. Sales and use tax is collected on all vehicles when registered in Connecticut. Tesla can work within Connecticut’s law and begin selling their cars in Connecticut. Under the franchise law, consumers may purchase the cars they. In Connecticut, the dealerships compete on price, service, financing, and overall appeal. This competition leads to lower prices, which results in consumers winning.

By not acting on legislation for the third year in a row, Connecticut lawmakers have made it clear that Tesla should work within the current structure. The legislators did not believe a special exemption for one out of state company had to be made, an exception built on privilege for a company that has built their business model on the sale of government fuel credits. A model that is designed to encourage the production of clean fuel technology for the masses, to other manufacturers, was in the best interest of Connecticut consumers.

 

Jim Fleming
President
Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association