Tesla Wants Upstate Sales Outlets

Direct-to-Consumer Model Challenges Dealerships; Needs State Approval

Dave Debo
June 13, 2017 - 6:50 am

AP Photo


(WBEN)  While the solar roofs they will soon make in Buffalo aren't going to be for sale for a while,  Tesla motors has a big push on to sell cars in Buffalo and across the state.  But they need a bill in Albany to change before they can.   

State Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle has introduced a bill to lift a cap on the direct-to consumer outlets that Tesla can operate. 
The company does not engage in a traditional dealership model and sells to consumers under a limited model that was approved by the state in 2014.

But Morelle wants to see the cap lifted, and the company says it would like to  open outlets across New York, including in greater Buffalo.

The bill allows Tesla to operate 15 new sales outlets across the state and mandates that at least one of them be somewhere in  Allegany,  Cattaraugus,  Chautauqua,  Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming counties.

"Tesla is looking for anything it can do to increase the market segment," says Author Lauren Fix, who has done national media appearances on behalf of car manufacturers and dealerships.

She says the direct-to-consumer model is a risk. "If you buy a vehicle from one of our local dealers there are all sorts of protections mandated by the federal government.  Tesla doesn't have that.  It's like you are buying a cell phone or any other piece of electrical equipment," she says.

Fix also argues that local dealerships  employ hundreds per facility, while the Tesla model would have only a few people at each one. 

The bill does mandate that they offer service facilities at each new sales outlet.  A Tesla spokesperson tells the Syracuse Post Standard that each would employ approximately 25 workers. 

In a conference call with reporters  Tesla Vice President Diarmuid O'Connell said that the state "state should be a big market for Tesla but the 2014 law has hindered its growth," according to Crain's NY Business

"We sell fewer vehicles in New York than we could or should sell" because of the cap, O'Connell said.

The bill is in the Assembly Transportation committee. 

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