Tesla Continues To Push To Sell Cars In Michigan

Dec 03, 2015 11:45 AM EST | John Nassivera

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Tesla Motors is not giving up on its quest to sell cars in Michigan, as it is lobbying for the opportunity to convince legislators to see it their way.

The electric automaker's efforts in convincing legislators and state officials to change their minds about Michigan's ban on its direct vehicle sales have been going on for months, and the company has even offered test-drives so that lawmakers could gain a better understanding of its cars, according to The Detroit News.

Jim Chen, vice president of regulatory affairs at Tesla, said in a recent phone interview that the automaker is also having trouble trying to get support from dealers and other manufacturers like General Motors, who he claims want to avoid competition with Tesla in the market.

Tesla has been experiencing this problem ever since Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill into law in October 2014 that bans direct sales in the state, Autoblog reported. The decision received a great deal of support, including from GM.

In addition to not being able to open showrooms, Tesla can't service vehicles in Michigan thanks to the law. Customers need to go to other states or Canada to buy a Model S or other Tesla cars as a result.

Terry Burns, executive vice president of the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association in East Lansing, said that Tesla should follow the same laws as other automakers when it comes to selling vehicles, The Detroit News reported.

"They're an automotive manufacturer, and the Michigan law says that manufacturers need to use dealers in order to sell vehicles. That's Michigan law," Burns said. "We would welcome Tesla here. But we would think that as with all the other businesses that come into Michigan, they would want to follow the law."

Despite the difficulties it is facing, Tesla still has its share of support in the form of the Federal Trade Commission, which urged Michigan lawmakers to let Tesla directly sell cars in a letter earlier this year, and Dan Crane, associate dean for faculty and research and law professor at the University of Michigan, who started a Mackinac Center for Public Policy forum Wednesday to argue why the company should be allowed to sell directly in the state.

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