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Connecticut Legislature Bars Tesla From Direct Sales, Again

Tesla Car

As legislative session comes to a close in Connecticut, a bill to allow the electric car maker Tesla to open three stores in the state looks like it’s going nowhere for the second year in a row, due to strong opposition from car dealerships.

State law prohibits the sale of cars directly to the consumer in Connecticut. The consumer has to go through dealers. In 2015 lawmakers considered a bill that would have exempted Tesla from that requirement. It passed the House but failed in the Senate. This year, a vote on the bill was pushed aside in the last few days of the legislative session. Tesla said it wanted to open two new shops and a distribution center that would have employed more than 200 people.

State Representative Tony Guerrera (D-29) from Rocky Hill is the co-chair of the House Transportation Committee. He says Connecticut is losing a lot by not letting Tesla in this year.

“200 new jobs and a product that gets a five-star rating in all aspects, whether it’s car magazines or insurance ratings. Unfortunately, it’s a losing proposition for the people of the State of Connecticut. And I wish that we were able to do something.”

Guerrera said lawmakers would try to pass a compromise version of the bill next year.

State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) said pressure from lobbyists for car dealers killed the bill. General Motors representatives said the bill would create an uneven playing field for car dealers in Connecticut.

Tesla already has a service shop in Milford. Connecticut is one of five states that won’t allow the company to open stores. New York allows Tesla to sell cars directly to customers. 

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.