Tesla’s purchase of Riviera tools reignites discussion about “Tesla ban”

After Tesla’s purchase of West Michigan tool-and-die shop Riviera Tools LLC, there’s been a flurry of discussion around the automaker’s place in Michigan.

Mary Kramer of Crain’s Detroit Business writes that Tesla’s purchase proves that the young, start-up spirited, Silicon Valley automaker has an appreciation for the tradition that lends strength to Michigan’s auto heritage.

“Maybe [Elon] Musk's appreciation for what it takes to make things — the art of design and manufacturing — could introduce other tech entrepreneurs to the strengths that Michigan has built,” she wrote.

The auto dealership lobby has made sure that Tesla can’t actually sell their cars in Michigan, since they choose to forgo the dealership model. Musk has written a blog post about his reasoning, including that dealers are unlikely to put effort into marketing electric vehicles since the majority of their profit comes from gas-powered vehicles.

But after the recent news, it’s once again clear that the ban isn’t doing much to help our economy. On the heels of Tesla’s announcement, the Federal Trade Commission wrote a letter urging the Michigan legislature to drop the ban, arguing that “Michigan's consumers would more fully benefit from a complete repeal of the prohibition on direct sales by all automakers.”

That just became a half-reality in Maryland, where a new law will allow Tesla to open four stores across the state.

Here in Michigan, Tesla enthusiasts have started taking it upon themselves to do the job of a brick-and-mortar store. A group of around 3020 out-of-state Tesla owners brought their EVs to St. Joseph to give Michiganders a chance to test-drive a Tesla, and to raise awareness about the ban.

Check out photos that event organizers shared with us here.