I presented the Tesla side of the New Jersey sales ban yesterday. Jeff Cobb of GM-Volt.com has since gone and done a great job digging up and presenting the other side of the story — the only one I’ve seen to do that. I think it’s worth a read.
Notably, there are also a lot of good comments on that article worth a read (which are primarily on the Tesla side), including a link to a strong argument for direct manufacturer sales to customers. Check them out if you have the time.
I’m tempted to throw in my take again here, but will try to keep that short using bullet points:
- Selling electric vehicles through the typical dealership model is a horrible option that surely results in drastically fewer EV sales. It is holding up societal progress.
- The typical dealership model is generally broken anyway, resulting in higher costs for consumers and a rather poor customer experience.
- Whether the laws on the books allow for Tesla’s sales model or not, I think it’s clear that Tesla should be able to sell its vehicles through a different system, perhaps with some form of additional regulation. We live in the 21st century. Direct sales without the interference of middlemen should be a possibility today, especially when there genuinely isn’t another decent sales channel available for the product. Again, regulations that help to instill more consumer protection into the system (rather than simply relying on the goodwill of Tesla and any companies that copy it) can come with that.
- If New Jersey granted Tesla licenses to sell its cars through its own stores, backtracking on that sets a horrible precedence for business in the state, and seems absurd. Work through the Legislature to create a better system, but don’t go back on what you’ve already approved and kick a high-growth company out of your state.
- And, to Tesla: move more quickly on a legislative solution that makes your sales model completely legal and legitimate (assuming it isn’t currently, based on the commentary by Jim Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, and statements by Tesla itself that it had agreed with the Christie administration to work on the matter in the NJ Legislature).
- To auto dealerships: shape up fast if you want to survive. An electric vehicle transition is underway, as is a more customer-friendly-service transition. Don’t suck so bad at selling EVs, and find a way to change your business structure such that you can come closer to the top-notch customer service that Tesla provides its customers. Otherwise, stop blocking progress to a better technology and better sales system.
Anyway, enough of my rambling, read Jeff’s article.
Image Credit: Tesla
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