I never knew anything about the dealership protectionist laws until I became interested in Tesla. TM has knocked down so many barriers to achieve their current success (new car company designing new car from scratch using proprietary battery system, fundraising during great recession, reviving abandoned manufacturing facility, rolling out nationwide charging infrastructure, etc, etc, etc) - I can't believe they have to fight these battles against NADA as well.
TM, and Elon himself, have spent so much time and energy fighting these dealers associations in Texas, New York, North Carolina, etc, etc. When I watched Elon answer the question about this during the shareholder meeting, I was struck by how much this issue seems to repulse him. Not because of the impact it has on Tesla, but because it goes against everything that is good about capitalism. He made a major effort to immigrate to the US via Canada because he recognized that our system of capitalism and risk tolerance offers the best chance for him to change the world. For the dealers to fight Tesla at every opportunity is discouraging and distracting to all the other important projects they are tackling right now. But more importantly, it is offensive to the idea of free market capitalism and damaging to consumers in the US.
I now understand the history of the dealership protectionist laws, and recognize they came about for good reasons to prevent auto manufacturers from undercutting dealerships after they sunk so much money into the real estate, inventory, marketing, staffing, etc required to establish a market in each community. But this clearly has no relevance to a brand new auto manufacturer who has no relationship with any dealers (especially when the dealers have no incentive to sell electric vehicles). Especially in the age of the internet!! Customers almost universally hate the experience of buying and servicing a car through a dealer. Many customers clearly prefer the model that Tesla has established to buy the car online, selecting the options they prefer, for a known price, and visiting a commission-free showroom in person when they want more information. Surely this approach will keep costs to the consumer lower than if there is a government-mandated middle man who will also need to make a profit. And most importantly, if these assumptions are wrong then customers will get upset and vote with their feet, and Tesla will be forced to adapt a new model or go out of business. That's the whole point of free market capitalism, and clearly it's best for the consumer and the economy.
How can the dealers possibly claim that consumers are hurt by the fact that there is no dealer to "represent them" in the process?? And more importantly, how can lawmakers possibly be agreeing with this sentiment?? Elon said they will continue fighting these battles, but he thinks the tide will ultimately turn when the citizens rise up to fight this sentiment. And I think he's right!
I've never been politically active, but I'm ready to figure out how to make my voice heard and make a difference. I signed up for WhiteHouse.gov just to sign the Tesla petitions, but they aren't getting much traction and I don't know how much of a difference they will make in the end. I would write my local lawmakers, but we don't seem to be having much trouble here in California :) So what can we do? Should we write to out-of-state lawmakers? If so, who?? How can we bring awareness to the masses about this absurd anti-capitalist, anti-consumer sentiment? We need to do something here so that Tesla can keep their focus on the important work of leading the automotive revolution!
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