Round One to Tesla

Round one to Tesla
Round one to Tesla

As we reported towards the end of last week, Tesla chief executive officer Elon Musk was on the front foot when he caught wind of two separate bills going through the New York State Assembly that could effectively have closed down his New York operations. By publicising this issue on his Twitter account, he seems to have embarrassed some politicians who were seemingly on the side of the Automobile Dealers Association in their fight to stop Tesla selling vehicles direct to the general public.

By close of play on Friday the bills lay dormant with no action taken and the fact that lawmakers will not meet again until January means we are effectively in the "pushback" phase of the potential law change.

Rumours of a deal

Rumours have emerged that the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association tried to broker an arrangement with Tesla which would have stopped the company from opening any more New York outlets, while allowing the two current operations to trade as normal. While nothing has been made official about the potential deal, it is known that Tesla turned down this option point-blank and the fight goes on across other states in America.

The fact that the Automobile Dealers Association was seemly prepared to do a deal with Tesla does on the surface weaken their position but officially no deal was ever offered.

Can Tesla win this fight?

It seems as though similar bills will be introduced for discussion across the vast majority of states in the U.S. and this particular issue will be centrestage for some time. It will be interesting to see how Tesla, and indeed other EV manufacturers, approach this obstacle, although in some ways it could be a win-win situation for the EV industry.

Quote from ElectricForum.com : "Tesla has given its strongest hint yet that with 4 years the company will have a $30,000 EV available with a 200+ mile journey capacity."

If the worst comes to the worst and direct selling of EVs to the general public is outlawed, there will likely be an increase in the visibility of EVs across the current dealership system. In many ways the general public is now fully aware of the ancient laws covering the sale of vehicles across the U.S. and this rise in public opinion could prompt change. There will be no hiding place for the dealership networks and they will need to push EVs to the front of their forecourts to be given similar coverage and similar space to more traditional fuel vehicles.

Going against the grain

Elon Musk is certainly a thorn in the side of the Automobile Dealership Association and unlike many similar individuals in years gone by, he will not go quietly. He has the personal wealth, the reputation and standing in the EV industry to make sure that his voice is heard and any underhand tactics are laid open to the public. Whether or not the vocal chief executive officer of Tesla will finally get his way remains to be seen but he is certainly ruffling the feathers of traditional car dealerships.

What else could we expect from a man who has pushed open the technology envelope in years gone by and has never really gone with the general flow, preferring to make his own path through life.