White House Must Respond to Tesla Direct Sales Petition

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An online petition calling for Tesla to be allowed to sell its electric cars directly to consumers has topped 100,000 signatures on the “We the People” website, meaning the White House must issue a formal reply.

The brief petition, created earlier this month, argues that “states should not be allowed to prevent Tesla Motors from selling cars directly to customers.”

“State legislators are trying to unfairly protect automobile dealers in their states from competition. Tesla is providing competition, which is good for consumers,” the petition concludes.

At issue are efforts by state lawmakers to ban the practice of selling cars directly to consumers rather than through traditional auto dealers. As noted by CNN, car makers like Toyota or GM sell their cars to dealers, who then sell them to consumers. Tesla, however, sells directly to consumers, prompting backlash from dealers – and now the lawmakers who represent them.

States like Texas and New York introduced bills that would ban direct sales of cars, effectively shutting down Tesla’s businesses there, though the New York bill sponsor said he would provide an exception for Tesla, according to Bloomberg. Neither bill made it through before the states ended their most recent sessions, though.

North Carolina lawmakers tried the same thing, but the bill was defeated. In Virginia, direct sales are already banned, though the company has a showroom there.

Tesla and CEO Elon Musk are making an effort to crush these legislative challenges. Musk urged Twitter followers to take action in their states, and sign the White House petition. “Woohoo, Tesla direct sales petition passed the 100k threshold! Thanks a lot to everyone that helped!!” he tweeted this afternoon.

It remains to be seen what the White House will have to say about the controversy. CNN said that car sales are regulated at the state level, so it’s not clear what the White House could do beyond urging restraint.

Last year, the Obama administration launched EV Everywhere, which pushed to make electric vehicles as affordable and convenient to own as gasoline-powered vehicles within a decade.

By Chloe Albanesius, PCMag


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