On Tuesday, Tesla officials pressed Wisconsin legislators to let them create their own dealerships within the state. The Tesla representatives stated that the company needs direct contact with customers in order to teach them about electric vehicle technology.
The Palo Alto, California company currently sells online and using its own dealerships, and its own employees to sell the vehicles. Tesla has its own dealerships in almost two dozen states, but Wisconsin law prohibits car manufacturers from directly operating or controlling a dealership. Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation that would exempt Tesla from the current prohibitive laws, which would allow Tesla to sell via its own retail shops.
The times are changing and many legislators feel that they must get with the program in order to satisfy the demands of the constituents. Tesla attorney Jonathan Chang told the state Assembly and Senate transportation committees that driving a Tesla requires dramatic changes in driving habits. The public hearing was packed as Chang stated that “it’s really a culture shift” and that Tesla has the need to directly communicate with potential buyers. He went on to say that “franchise dealers aren’t able to sell these [Tesla] cars. Dealers aren’t willing to invest that time. We’re not here to overturn the franchise system. It sells internal combustion engines well. But the law shouldn’t be used to block new companies from entering the free market.”
Not everyone was thrilled with Tesla trying to circumvent the franchise system. The Wisconsin Automobile and Truck Dealers Association pushed back, saying that the new bill would mean the end of franchise dealers.
Fans of the bill believe that they are greatly inconvenienced by having to go to faraway Minneapolis or Chicago to buy and service their vehicles. The bill is AB 717/SB 605.