TESLA CAN PLAY — BUT ONLY BY THE RULES
In John Stoehr’s piece, “Tesla Rewriting Rules of the Road,” (Connecticut Post, Oct. 2) he stated that language is power in the world of business. We agree. Tesla has cleverly named their new store in Greenwich a “gallery.”
By doing this, Tesla believes it can circumvent state law.
Their intent is clearly to “sell” cars; they are an auto maker. Stoehr even discusses how there is a sales team at the gallery. He also explains that the workers at the “gallery” will most likely try to educate people about how detrimental the franchise system is for businesses and Connecticut. We would like to speak the truth about these arguments.
Dealers have invested millions in a franchise system and the physical dealership structures that go in that system through a mutual partnership with the manufacturers and regulators. This system protects the consumers if something goes wrong with the car, fosters local competition among dealers, and creates a balanced system between national manufacturers and local dealerships.
Tesla wants to skip the franchise system though Tesla could choose to sell with local dealers under existing laws in Connecticut. However, they choose not to. Tesla is using the terms galleries, showcases, educational galleries as a way to sneak around state laws in order to sell their products.
Supporting local dealers means local good paying jobs stay here, not online and not in California.
Our 14,000 employees, mechanics, sales staff, and administrators support a safe driving environment. These are career jobs with advancement; the average salary is $61,000. The 270 Connecticut auto dealers are independent, family-run businesses, not big global companies. They vote, pay taxes, live locally, invest in their communities and support local charities.
Tesla does not manufacture in Connecticut; they will sell online instead of at a property-tax paying dealership, and they prefer to outsource their repair work rather than have a dealership repair shop do the work. Essentially they want a system that will have no economic commitment locally.
Only dealers advocate for the consumer against manufacturers during recalls. In 2015, there was a record breaking 50 million recalls, including Tesla. When it comes to recalls, warranties, and securing the lemon law, dealers have been advocates for consumers whenever problems arise or car companies fail. The GM ignition switch recall and the collapse of Saab, Hummer, Scion are recent examples in which dealers advocated for consumers when auto manufacturers failed.
Tesla says Connecticut dealerships do not want to sell electric vehicles (EVs). This is entirely untrue. Our dealerships have doubled down on their efforts to sells EVs. Major manufacturers have produced or are about to release their version of an EV. Connecticut dealerships helped create and continue to support the Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate Program (CHEAPR), which offers rebates of up to $5,000 for Connecticut residents who purchase or lease a new eligible battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric or fuel cell electric vehicle. Our dealerships now have trained mechanics to work on these cars.
The Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association will continue to advocate for state law that supports the franchise system and the Connecticut consumer. Tesla’s “gallery” is a store that is working to change the definition, they need to play by the rules.
James T. Fleming is president of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.