Lawmaker Struggles To Sell Bill To Help American Car Company Open Retail Stores
Unable to find a compromise, Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, gave up on legislation that would have allowed electric car manufacturers like Tesla to sell directly to customers in Connecticut.
“We weren’t able to find common ground,” Duff said.
Duff had held out hope that car manufacturers and Tesla, which has a service center in Milford, would be able to work out a deal that would allow Tesla to sell their vehicles in Connecticut. Currently, consumers have to travel to New York or Massachusetts to purchase their vehicles.
Connecticut does not allow car manufacturers to sell directly to consumers. They must be sold through a third-party car dealership or franchise.
Tesla estimates that each showroom could create 12 to 25 jobs and contribute $8 million to $10 million in direct economic impact, in addition to nearly $1.7 million in sales tax revenue.
Duff said he didn’t have enough votes in the Democratic caucus to run the bill, even though he had hoped the final product would be negotiated by the car dealers and Tesla.
Will Nicholas, government relations manager for Tesla, said Saturday that “at a time when Connecticut is trying to shake the perception that it’s hostile toward business, this is a surprising turn of events.”
Rep. Antonio Guerrera, D-Rocky Hill, said he is frustrated that they are trying to bring business into the state and they can’t negotiate a deal. He said this is a company that his constituents want.
“In states where Tesla has opened retail stores, no car dealership has closed,” Guerrera said.
A similar bill passed the House last year, but never got called for a vote in the Senate.
This year car dealers were joined by the car manufacturers in their opposition to the legislation.
“GM believes that all industry participants should operate under the same rules and requirements on fundamental issues that govern how we sell, service and market our products,” Chris Grimaldi, regional director of state government affairs for General Motors, said. “We, along with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Connecticut dealers, oppose the creation of two different sets of laws governing vehicle manufacturers in the state of Connecticut that would establish an uneven ‘playing field’.”
GM has a regional office in Danbury and has about 43 licensed dealers in Connecticut.
The bill still has broad bipartisan support in the House.