Tesla wants to undercut investments in Connecticut that 270 franchised auto retailers have made in our communities, by changing state law to carve out an exemption for Tesla — a single company. This legislation is not necessary. Tesla could sell its vehicles at dealerships across Connecticut today, but it chooses not to and wants special treatment.
The new car dealerships throughout Connecticut offer good, high-paying jobs to more than 14,000 employees. Auto retailers have shown consistent job growth over the last five years, adding more than 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 jobs. If this bill passes, 10 percent of employees at dealerships could lose their jobs.
Tesla claims franchised dealers are unwilling to sell electric vehicles and that Connecticut continues to lose sales tax revenue on vehicles purchased out of state. Sales and use tax is collected on all vehicles when registered in Connecticut. Connecticut dealerships had a 2016 payroll of $814 million and $10.3 billion in total sales — 18 percent of Connecticut’s retail sales — and paid $293 million in income taxes. Connecticut dealerships sold more EVs in 2016 than ever before, 92 percent of all EVs last year.
Tesla claims it is a start-up company entitled to a carve-out in our laws. But Tesla is a 14-year-old multibillion-dollar corporation with factories in California and the Netherlands.
Tesla’s product isn’t unique. More than 30 electric vehicles are available, from mid-range to high-end luxury vehicles. Tesla has built its business model on the sale of government fuel credits, designed to encourage the production of clean fuel technology for the masses, to other manufacturers.
The Department of Motor Vehicles found Tesla’s “activities at the [Greenwich] location constitute activities for which a [new car dealer] license is required.” Tesla thinks it is above Connecticut’s law by asking for undeserved special treatment.
Connecticut's auto retailers have invested millions of dollars and created more than 14,000 jobs in Connecticut, more than ESPN, Pfizer and Aetna combined. They contribute millions annually to local charities. Say no to sweetheart deals, and don't trade jobs for a new gadget.
Meghan Scranton, Vernon
The writer is the president of Scranton Motors in Vernon and is the chairwoman of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association.