The Missouri Automobile Dealers Association is backing new state legislation that challenges automaker Tesla, with hopes to put an end to a long-standing battle with the California automaker.
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Currently, unlike other auto companies such as Ford or General Motors, Tesla does not sell cars through franchises. Instead the popular electric car company sells cars directly to consumers either online or in physical stores.
Senate Bill 872, filed in Missouri by Franklin County Republican Sen. Dave Schatz, gives the association the backing it needs to sue dealers such as Tesla that sell vehicles without a state-issued license.
“That’s really all we’ve asked since 2013 is a legal interpretation as to the merits of the (Department of Revenue) to allow manufacturers to sell direct to consumers,” said Doug Smith, Missouri Automobile Dealers Association president and CEO. “We believe the appellate court unintentionally created a scenario where the DOR could make arbitrary decisions without any legal oversight — a licensing decision without us or any private citizen the right to question or file litigation against it.”
The fight between the two entities began in 2013, when the Palo Alto, Calif.-based automaker opened its service center in University City, Mo. Tesla has 330 locations worldwide.
In 2015, the Missouri Automobile Dealers Association sued the Missouri Department of Revenue in 2015 alleging the way Tesla sells vehicles violates state law.
The case, which carried on for two years, briefly forced Tesla to shut down all Missouri operations, including the store and service center in University City. An appellate court later dismissed the suit, alleging the association had no ground to sue.
Both parties testified in February in front of a Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee.
Tesla says despite the legislature and the courts both rejecting the Missouri Auto Dealers Association’s suit in the past, the dealers “continue to attack consumer choice by trying to force Tesla from selling its cars direct to residents.”
“Tesla wants to continue to invest and grow jobs in Missouri, while giving consumers the choice to buy the car they love,” a Tesla spokesperson told the Post-Dispatch. “The proposed legislation is again anti-competitive and monopolistic, and Tesla will continue to fight for the rights of consumers and the many jobs that it has created in the state.”
According to testimony, Tesla said there are more than 1,000 customers and more than 2,000 Model 3 reservation holders in Missouri.
Tesla is building a new store and service center in Chesterfield Valley, Mo. Developer of the project says the project remains on track. Tesla also plans to add more superchargers to the eight already located in Missouri.
Lemon law attorneys help their clients by dealing directly with the manufacturer on the clients’ behalf, working to promptly resolve the issue and get their clients back on the road. Thanks to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, attorneys can seek their fees directly from the manufacturer, meaning a client can obtain legal counsel without having to pay attorneys’ fees directly out of pocket.