Georgia Dealers Join Tesla War after Atlanta Store Sells Too Many Cars

Sep 04, 2014 04:30 PM EDT | Jordan Ecarma

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Tesla is facing a store shutdown in Georgia for allegedly violating a state exemption that allowed its location near Atlanta to sell directly to customers.

The crime? Going 23 vehicles over the sales limit stipulated in the state license, which allowed the Tesla store to qualify for an exemption as a location selling 150 cars or fewer each year, Motoramic reported.

The Georgia Auto Dealer Association recently filed a petition requesting that the state take away Tesla's license to conduct its direct-sales model at the store in the Marietta suburb of Atlanta.

"It's just very simple--we want them to comply with the law the way others are," Bill Morie, president of the Georgia dealers association, told Automotive News.

Tesla has plans to open two more locations in the Atlanta area, but those new stores will be derailed if state regulators take away its license in Georgia. The Peach State has become an important market for electric cars due to its strong tax incentives for greener vehicles.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-headquartered company has long tussled with officials in various states over its unusual sales model, which sells the electric Model S directly to customers rather than through franchised dealerships.

If the Atlanta store closes, the nearest location for Georgia residents to purchase a Tesla vehicle will be four hours away in Nashville, Tenn., according to Motoramic.

Tesla has also faced opposition in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey as dealerships object to the company's sales model.

"New-vehicle dealers just want a level playing field on which to complete," Morie told Automotive News. "No one should be allowed to act as if they are above the law, especially when there is a simple path to compliance that everyone else has agreed to follow."

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