Tesla’s planned “dealership” in Louisville, Kentucky, may be complicated by the state law, WDRB reports. The article noted that the plans called for both an indoor and outdoor sales area, service bays, and will have more than 200 parking spaces. It will be using an existing building on Gateworth Way in Middletown. I can see why they would mistake this for a dealership, considering that the average consumer thinks Tesla has dealerships. I’ve even had a conversation with an Uber driver who insisted that Tesla had dealerships and that I was wrong for believing otherwise. This idea is pretty common among those who don’t follow Tesla or its news closely. However, this is a service and delivery center. Kentucky law bans automakers from owning, operating, and controlling a dealership and gives that power to its local franchises.
John Rougeux, president of the Tesla Owners of Kentucky Club, shared his thoughts in the article. He explained that Tesla owners in Louisville have to drive to Cincinnati, Ohio, for service. That’s around an hour and a half away.
Mayor Chapman of Middletown also explained that Tesla isn’t opening a dealership but a delivery center. He explained that this is a store where Tesla owners can pick up their cars after they’ve purchased them. He also said that it’s scheduled to open during the first half of 2022 and that it will replace a Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealership that is planning to move.
Carlos Cassady, the Kentucky Motor Vehicle Commissions executive director, emailed WDRB and explained that Tesla isn’t licensed and doesn’t have an application pending with the commission, but that it doesn’t need one if it’s building a service center. The commission is in charge of licensing auto dealers, manufacturers, and distributors in Kentucky.
The article noted that Tesla has been registered to do business in the state since 2019 and that the property it’s eyeing is already zoned for auto repair and sales. The Metro Planning & Design services have already approved a development plan for the property.
How Do Kentucky’s Auto Dealers Feel About This?
The Kentucky Auto Dealers Association shared a statement. It said that it would “look forward to a franchise relationship with any new manufacturer seeking to do business in the Commonwealth; so long as that manufacturer complies with the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth.
“We passionately believe that the franchised motor vehicle system has provided price and service competition between brands and dealers of the same brand.”
The association also said that it’s “all-in” on electric vehicles as well as other alternative fuel vehicles. Association president, Jason Wilson, told WDRB in an email, “We will continue to monitor the Tesla situation as things develop.”
Each state has its own laws, and typically, dealership associations lobby lawmakers to get their way. We’ve seen this in Connecticut, Texas, New York, and elsewhere. We’ll keep an eye on where this case goes.