Tesla, unlike other automakers, sells its cars directly to consumers through company-owned stores in other states.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The ability to transition to electric vehicles that can more easily be recharged with renewable electricity is an important step toward reducing Michigan’s carbon footprint in the face of a warming climate.
Electric automaker Tesla filed a lawsuit today against state officials, escalating its multi-year battle to sell vehicles directly to consumers in Michigan.
The California automaker named Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Gov. Rick Snyder in its lawsuit filed in federal court. A spokesman for the governor declined to comment and a spokeswoman for Schuette said his office is reviewing the lawsuit.
Tesla’s action is part of an escalating conflict that is playing out nationwide — through legislatures, regulatory agencies and the courts — between the upstart Palo Alto, Califiornia based automaker and powerful dealers associations as states try to sort out whether, and to what extent, Tesla should be allowed to sell directly to customers.
It also highlights two different interpretations of what a free market means.
The lawsuit was filed less than a week after Johnson rejected Tesla’s application for dealership and service facilities in Grand Rapids. The license was denied because a state law in 2014 requires a dealer to have a bona fide contract with an auto manufacturer to sell its vehicles.
Nationwide, various states have taken different approaches to Tesla’s efforts to set up customer-direct retail centers, with some states seeking to ban the practice entirely, some allowing exceptions with restrictions, and others not objecting to the practice at all.