Questions about the legality of Tesla selling its electric vehicles in its own retail stores have been floating around since the days of the Roadster. Last week, the recent wranglings between auto dealer associations and Tesla stores in New York and Massachusetts were moved along in courts of law, proving once again that EVs won’t arrive without hassle.
Specifically, Automotive News reports, the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association (MSADA) has filed a complaint in the Norfolk County Superior Court over the Boston-area Matick Mall Tesla store. A hearing over a potential preliminary injunction is supposed to take place this week. In this state – and others that prevent factories from owning dealerships – you can’t technically purchase a Tesla in a Tesla store. Instead, potential buyers are told to place an order on the Tesla website. Tesla says this complies with local laws. Some local dealers obviously disagree. Robert O’Koniewski, MSADA executive vice president, told AN, “They claim they’re operating under the guise of a non-sales showroom, and we call that out as an outright scam.”
Over in the Empire State, Tesla was sued in New York State Supreme Court both by the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association and a dealer member. Here, one of the claims against Tesla is that stores owned by automakers are participating in an unfair fight, since small dealerships don’t have as big a budget for advertising and store improvements.
In 2010, the president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association said his feeling, “is that a manufacturer-owned store as a business model violates the spirit of the state law here. But not a single person is complaining about it, and it’s kind of a back-burner thing for us. I imagine that if we start getting complaints from our membership, we would move it up to a front-burner thing.” Guess which burner is turned on now?