Tesla Motors has gone about touring the country of late, lobbying on its own behalf to try and overturn state legislation forbidding their controversial direct-to-consumer sales approach.
The Palo Alto automotive company’s most recent victory was in Maryland, where a bill was recently signed into law permitting Tesla Motors no more than four stores within the state. The bill passed with support from the House, Senate, Governor, and ultimately, even the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association.
But that doesn’t mean the bill was entirely unopposed.
As Autoblog reports, at the eleventh hour of the bill’s gestation, General Motors decided to get involved, voicing a dissenting opinion toward Tesla’s company-owned stores being allowed in Maryland – and across the country. GM’s lobbying prowess even nearly prevailed, stalling the Maryland House Bill’s passage until just 6 minutes before its deadline.
Autoblog reached out to General Motors for comment, prompting a response from GM Spokeswoman Laura Toole which read: “While not specific to just Maryland, we also believe all industry participants should operate under the same rules and requirements on fundamental issues that govern how we sell, service and market our products. GM plans to compete in the all-electric vehicle market. By enacting HB 235, multiple manufacturers may compete with similarly capable vehicles and similar price points, yet they would operate under a distinctly different set of rules, which is why we opposed HB 235.”
Maryland House Bill 235 specifies that any automaker may have up to four company-owned stores in the state so long as that automaker produces exclusively electric or alternative fuel vehicles. That portion of the legislature is meant to apply exclusively to Tesla, or at least protect Maryland dealers from competition from the manufacturers that they peddle.
And indeed, on one side of the argument is that state legislation forbidding manufacturer-owned stores was originally intended to protect third party dealers from competition from the automaker. That’s noteworthy in this case because, of course, Tesla Motors has no third party dealership franchise to encroach upon. However, automakers such as General Motors argue that the effect of overturning or modifying said legislation allows companies like Tesla a different rule set that may grant an unfair advantage in the marketplace.
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