The company Tesla, with modern-day industrialist Elon Musk at its helm, has a bold and compelling mission: “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
Today, 14 years after its founding, Tesla is on the cusp of achieving a significant milestone in its mission. The company will soon roll out the Model 3, a mass-market affordable electric car with a 200-mile range. The Model 3 has the potential to make automotive history, helping to usher in a revolution in electric vehicles.
Sadly, Connecticut currently blocks Tesla from selling its cars in the state, posing a significant obstacle to achieving their mission. It is time for state lawmakers to right this wrong. They can do this by passing H.B. 7097, a bill specifically aimed at allowing Tesla to sell their cars in Connecticut.
Currently, Tesla is permitted to sell its cars in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and a majority of states across the country. Connecticut, by stubbornly resisting this innovative American company, is on the wrong side of history. For the sake of Connecticut citizens, our state finances and the planet, H.B. 7097 deserves our support.
A similar bill failed a year ago in the face of strong lobbying from the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association (CARA), and this group continues to resist Tesla’s entry into the state. This group has launched a disinformation campaign, raising unfounded fears of harm to state residents and existing dealers.
CARA claims that Tesla is asking for an unfair advantage by selling cars direct to customers, instead of through independent dealers. This argument is based on an erroneous interpretation of automotive franchise laws. These laws were created to protect dealers by forbidding auto manufacturers from unfairly competing directly with them. Franchise laws were not intended to block a new auto manufacturer from pursuing a direct sales strategy instead of building a dealer network.
If this bill passes, existing auto dealers can continue to sell cars, just as they currently do.
The advantages of passing H.B. 7097 are numerous, including jobs, direct economic activity, sales tax revenue, and environmental benefits. Each new Tesla store in the state could create up to 25 new jobs and direct economic activity of $4-5 million. In a time of constrained state finances, Tesla in-state sales would generate over $10 million in sales tax revenue. Recently, the Acadia Center found that carbon emissions increased by 7.5 percent from 2012 to 2015, with 40 percent of emissions coming from transportation. The adoption of electric vehicles will have immediate and lasting benefits to the state’s air and our citizens’ health.
People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE) has promoted the transition to a sustainable clean energy economy for over forty years. Electric vehicles (EVs) are a cornerstone of this transition. While they still represent only a small share of the market, EVs are becoming more affordable and major manufacturers are starting to take this market seriously. Tesla has been at the forefront of this revolution and deserves the chance to sell their cars in Connecticut.
Mark Scully is President of People’s Action for Clean Energy. .