Electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors took a hit in Michigan on Tuesday when Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill doubling down on the state's prohibition against direct-to-consumer sales.
"This bill does not, as some have claimed, prevent auto manufacturers from selling automobiles directly to consumers at retail in Michigan — because this is already prohibited under Michigan law," he said in a letter to lawmakers accompanying the signed bill.
The Wall Street Journal reported
that the new legislation includes language reinforcing the state's requirement that consumer vehicles be sold through dealerships. According to Reuters
, the bill furthermore prohibits the use of "informational galleries" where consumers can view Tesla's cars but cannot discuss prices, take the car for a test drive, or make a purchase order.
Diarmuid O’Connell, Tesla's vice president for business development, said that the new law goes beyond similar prohibitive laws in Texas, New Jersey, Arizona, and Maryland by outlawing the galleries.
He said that Michigan residents who'd like to view and purchase a Tesla will now have to either travel to Ohio or Illinois or order online and have the car delivered by a third-party service.
There was no public debate on the new law, but the state seems poised to hold one in time, as part of Synder's letter declared, "A healthy, open discussion can and should be had over whether the current business model in Michigan should be changed."
In the meantime, it looks like the incumbent auto-dealers have won the day.
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