Originally published on CleanTechnica.
Following many years of conflict, it appears that Tesla is now considering suing the state of Michigan for the right to sell directly to consumers, rather than continue the current lobbying approach, according to recent reports.
Considering the close relationship between the state of Michigan and a number of major auto manufacturers, it shouldn’t be too surprising that Tesla has yet to find a way into the state’s market. The legislature there is unsurprisingly more apt to take the side of the auto-dealer associations than in other states where the auto industry is less important economically.
With there being apparently no other route to being allowed to make use of the direct sales model in the state, Tesla may well have no other choice but legal action at this point.
In a recent interview with Detroit News, Tesla’s General Counsel Todd Morin commented: “It is a very important state. Whether it’s through the Legislature or the courts, one way or another, we’re determined to do whatever we need to do in order for justice to prevail and serve our customers in Michigan.”
The Secretary of State has proven to be a master at slow walking every request by Tesla. It has asked the company to resubmit documentation that it is a franchised dealership four times since the company filed for permission to open a sales facility and a service center last November, even though the application clearly states that Tesla is not seeking a dealer franchise license.
Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams confirmed in an email Wednesday that the state asked for a “a bona fide contract with the manufacturer that shows the applicant may sell the manufacturer’s vehicles at retail,” saying it’s “an explicit requirement in state law.”
The effort to make Tesla jump through procedural hoops include requests that all applicants submit fingerprint scans and a 5 year employment history. The Secretary of State’s office “considers each dealer license application, and will not approve or deny one until all relevant information has been provided,” Woodhams said.
“It is not uncommon for some applications to take longer than others, which is partly due to the speed with which the applicant responds to the department with the information that is sought,” he wrote in an earlier email this week.
Ah, bureaucrats. Who doesn’t love them? I’m sure that the strong presence that GM and Ford maintain in the state has nothing to do with Tesla’s treatment — it’s all simply down to the speed at which requested information has been provided….