A petition was sent to the White House with 138,469 signature asking the federal government to “allow Tesla Motors to sell directly to consumers in all 50 states.” This is to try to stop the madness (see the links at the bottom of this article for examples of what has been going on) of Tesla having to fight tooth and nail in a bunch of different state to have the right to open stores and service points there, and even in states where it’s not outright prevented from selling direct, there are often ridiculous limits to how many stores it can open. Can you imagine if the old incumbents, Nokia and Blackberry for example, had been able to control how Apple sold phones back when it was a new entrant in 2007?
States should not be allowed to prevent Tesla Motors from selling cars directly to customers. The state legislators are trying to unfairly protect automobile dealers in their states from competition. Tesla is providing competition, which is good for consumers.
Pretty straightforward request, right?
But those who expected the White House to come to the rescue of free competition will be disappointed. In a long reply, the feds basically threw the ball back in the states’ court. The full response is here, but only one short sentence truly is about what was asked by the petition:
“But as you know, laws regulating auto sales are issues that have traditionally sat with lawmakers at the state level.”
They then go on to highlight everything they’ve done to improve fuel economy and advanced transportation — all good stuff, but a bit beside the point if innovators like Tesla can’t sell their products without going through third party dealers who have a vested interest in the old model, since they make most of their money on maintenance tasks that don’t apply to electric cars.
It’s too bad. I would have liked to see a bit more leadership on the issue. Sure states have traditionally dealt with this, but even the state that have regulations on this never created those regulations for the purpose that they are being used now. Maybe we’re due for a change, and the federal government could have done something different rather than say that “sorry, can’t help you”, even if just use the media to shame states into opening up.