February 17, 2017

Tesla once again lobbying for direct car sales in CT

PHOTO | Contributed
PHOTO | Contributed
A Tesla electric vehicle

Electric-vehicle maker Tesla Motors is hoping the third time's a charm in Connecticut.

For the third year in a row, a legislative committee is reviewing a proposal that would allow the company to sell its cars directly to Connecticut consumers. The Transportation Committee has scheduled a public hearing on the bill for next week.

Should the bill develop further, it's unclear how closely the language would mirror previous proposals, which sought to allow Tesla to open several stores in Connecticut.

State law bars car manufacturers from bypassing dealer franchises and selling directly to consumers. That means residents who want to buy a Tesla must go to other states, such as Massachusetts or New York, to do so.

Connecticut auto dealers argue that the system protects consumers in case a manufacturer goes out of business and that Tesla shouldn't be allowed to operate under a different set of rules from other car sellers, which employ more than 14,000 people.

For its part, Tesla has argued that the state's current laws protect entrenched interests from competition. Last year, it promised to build a regional distribution center in Connecticut, with more than 150 jobs, if a direct-sales law passed.

The company has said its stores would employ up to 25 full-time workers, create tax revenue for the state, and help reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.

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