In New York, traditional auto dealers have been fighting against both Tesla and other automakers from allowing their customers to buy directly from them. It’s a tale as old as the EV movement — the dealerships don’t want Tesla or other automakers to sell directly to their customers.
These dealers make a lot of money being middle men, and they don’t want to lose even a portion of that river of cash. The concern isn’t only about Tesla or other EV startups, though. Who’s to say that if Tesla is allowed to sell directly to customers, then Ford or another automaker may be allowed to follow suit at some point? Since 2014, dealerships in New York have been successful in their war against Tesla and any other automaker trying to use the direct sales method. The dealers have lobbied (and won) against bills in the state legislature that would allow companies such as Tesla to operate a fleet of statewide direct-to-consumer stores.
Interestingly, though, the push to allow direct sales of EVs has gained some new allies.
In New York, solar and wind energy industries are backing the movement for direct sales since EVs run on electricity instead of fossil fuels. Anne Reynolds, who is the executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy, shared her thoughts with the Times Union. “The legislature passed this super-ambitious climate law two years ago. Renewable energy is not that easy but there is a pathway to get there,” she said. “We really need some policies to jumpstart deployment,” she noted while pointing out that her organization supports the push to let Tesla, Rivian, and other EV makers open their own direct-sales stores.
Chris Neuber, president of the Eastern New York Coalition of Auto Dealers, explained why he was opposed. “They put the sweat equity and brick-and-mortar facilities that are there for the public,” he said. The article noted that many dealerships are locally-owned small businesses that contrast with “big publicly traded firms like Tesla.”
Albany Democratic Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy has co-sponsored the Tesla bills and pointed out that the original push started in 2013 with a measure sponsored by Rochester Assemblyman Joe Morelle, who is currently serving in Congress. He mentioned that people in western New York had to travel to the New York City area to see a Tesla showroom. This is still the case.
Assemblywoman Fahy expressed that she wanted to protect the auto dealership franchises and that the state of New York isn’t even in the top 10 nationally for sales of EVs. If New York is going to meet its goals for greenhouse gas reduction, more consumers need to buy cleaner vehicles. “We’ve got to up our game,” she said. She also supports provisions that would prevent other carmakers from selling their EVs in competition with the franchises.
Dealers — You’re on Wrong Side of History. Adapt & Change Your Ways.
Dealers need to wake up and realize that fossil-fueled vehicles aren’t going to be around forever, and instead of resisting change, leverage it. Monetize it. This is how you adapt.
EVs are a key solution to cut air pollution as well as global warming emissions. This whole idea that EVs are bad because dealers will suffer is sad, but they have an opportunity right now to adapt. Instead of spending money lobbying the state government, use that money to invest in clean energy vehicles, advertised them, or even start a new side business that could blossom in an economy that is unfriendly to gasoline/diesel vehicles.