Michigan's anti-Tesla law to change?

By Mara MacDonald - Reporter

DETROIT - You can buy everything from a burger to a boat in Michigan and there is no dealership requirement.

Actually, you could buy a rocket and there’s no dealership requirement.

But when it comes to cars, the rules change.

If you want to sell cars here in Michigan, you have to have a franchised dealership. Tesla’s Elon Musk is uninterested in franchised dealerships and service centers. He wants Tesla to own and operate anything with its name on it.

Right now, that means Michigan is a closed market to his company. Jeff Timmer who is part of a consortium trying to make Michigan Tesla friendly wonders why a company that only sold 50,000 cars worldwide last year is ruffling so many industry feather.

“We don’t tell everybody who sells hamburgers that you have to franchise like McDonald’s or Burger King,” Timmer said. “And we shouldn’t tell everybody who sells cars that you have to franchise like GM and Ford chose to.”

You can buy a Tesla online but you can’t see it, touch it, test drive it or have it serviced here. Musk is fighting those restrictions in Michigan and a handful of other states.

In 2014, lobbyists for the auto dealers put further restrictions into our state law that shuts Tesla out of the market.

Will those restrictions stand?

There’s a new bill in Lansing that would allow changes which means Tesla could have service centers here and its stores or kiosks.

State representative Aaron Miller (R-Sturgis) thinks it’s a basic issue of fairness.

“Think about this, if this is really a consumer issue, why aren’t we mandated to buy boats through a dealer and there’s no good answer, there’s just none,” Miller said.

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