Tesla Motors Inc. has vowed to keep its direct car-selling model in Missouri as the state has emerged as the latest bump on Tesla’s road to continue to bypass dealerships.
recently was dealt a setback in Missouri, where it has been allowed to sell its cars without resorting to a dealer network. A circuit court judge, however, ruled that Tesla is not a franchisee and that the state should not renew its licenses, which imperils Tesla’s direct sales in the state.
Tesla always has relied on direct sales to consumers, eschewing the dealership model that all other major car makers have relied on for decades. The list of states where Tesla is prohibited by law to sell directly includes Arizona, Connecticut, Michigan, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
Tesla has stores and service centers in most of these states, but can’t sell its cars directly. Customers usually buy the cars online and take delivery at the stores, which function more as showrooms.
The electric-car maker has won recent victories in New Jersey and Maryland, where it was allowed to sell direct after legal fights.
In emailed comments to MarketWatch and other news outlets, Tesla said it would take “all appropriate steps in the courts to ensure that Missouri consumers continue to have the right to choose how they purchase their vehicles.”
Tesla has framed its arguments in favor of its direct sales in terms of consumer freedom and as a stance against dealers’ anticompetitive behavior. The traditional dealership model would not give electric cars a fair shake, it has said. Dealers have retorted that dealership laws exist to protect consumers against price fixing and other ills.
The Sierra Club asked nearly 200 volunteers to survey 308 auto dealers and stores in 10 states, including California, New York and New Jersey. The volunteers were not “secret shoppers” and many were in the market for an EV, the Sierra Club said.