No direct sales for Tesla in Michigan?

Many observers are reading a lot into the Michigan legislature’s revision of a state law with the effect of outlawing Tesla’s model of online direct sales to customers, bypassing the traditional dealership model.

A University of Michigan professor described as “corrupt politics at its worst.”

But Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said in a video press release that the revision simply “clarifies and strengthens” existing law about direct auto sales in the state.

Not unexpectedly, Michigan’s automakers and traditional dealers supported the bill. General Motors, which makes Tesla competitors like the Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac ELR here in Michigan, said it would “ensure that all automotive manufacturers follow the same rules” for selling cars in Michigan.

The legal relationships among manufacturers, car dealers and their consumers have developed over decades, with numerous protections built-in all around. And sure, we love Tesla’s Model S, but in this case the issue might need a little more study.

As Snyder said, we support an “open discussion” to ensure that Michigan is viewed “as a state that's open to products and services from all over the globe,” while keeping our eye on “what could be the best answers for Michigan citizens.”

We hope that this conversation happens and that a solution can be arrived that doesn’t require an out-of-state trip to take delivery of one of the most innovative electric cars on the market.