Tag archives for massachusetts

Massachusetts dealers appeal ruling in Tesla store case





Massachusetts auto dealers are not taking “no” for an answer when it comes to Tesla Motors. On Tuesday, the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association and other dealer plaintiffs filed an appeal after a court dismissed their lawsuit against Tesla’s factory-owned stores on December 31, 2012.



The lawsuit was initially filed by MSADA in October, and by year’s end, Norfolk County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Fishman ruled that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue. This suit followed a similar lawsuit filed in October where the MSADA requested the court block an opening of a store by Tesla in a suburban Boston mall. Tesla won approval to open the store in Natick, MA, which fueled the second lawsuit.



Dealers are pointing to a 2002 Massachusetts statue that gives dealers and their association the right to sue to prevent manufacturer-owned stores, Robert O’Koniewski, executive vice president of the dealers association, told Automotive News in an email. “Tesla is spending considerable sums of money across the country in an effort to exploit what they see to be gaps in states’ franchise laws,” O’Koniewski wrote. “The law is the law. Follow it.”



Tesla didn’t respond to a request for comment. Tesla previously has said that it’s being very careful about complying with state laws. The stores are there to educate the public, and when it comes time to selling the car, it’s all being done online.



“People will be walking down the mall and they’ll see a car and they’re drawn in by that…,” said George Blankenship, Tesla’s vice president of sales and ownership experience, in an interview with SmartPlanet. “We’re educating, not selling. It’s two different things.” So far, so good for Tesla Motors. But the jury – as it were – could still be out.

By Jon LeSage

Judge says Tesla mall store can go forward, for now

Tesla Model S



We’ll let Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk write the lede on this one: “Mass. judge denies auto dealers’ demand to kill our little Tesla store,” Musk said in a tweet on Tuesday. “Yay, justice prevails.”



Indeed, a Massachusetts judge has denied a request among auto dealers to restrict the electric-vehicle maker from operating its own retail stores, according to Automotive Week reports. The ruling appears to be a departure of sorts from the “church and state” set-up of vehicle makers and dealers, in which the auto companies are required to grant franchises instead of selling the vehicles themselves.



In this case, Tesla, so far, is cleared to open a retail store outside of Boston. The Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, which sued Tesla last month, may appeal the decision, while the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) declined to comment. NADA said late last month that it was looking to meet with Tesla executives to re-think the idea of opening company-owned retail stores, and added that it would provide legal support for dealer groups that decided to take action against Tesla.



Ever the non-traditionalist, Musk has long argued that a franchised dealer would likely lack the knowledge necessary to provide expertise on the EVs.

Related GalleryTesla Model S: Quick Spin

By Danny King

NADA asking to meet with Tesla over retail store legal questions

Tesla Model S



In this case, NADA certainly doesn’t mean “nothing.”



The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), which represents 16,000 new-vehicle dealers, is looking to meet with executives at Tesla Motors over the company’s decision to have only company-owned dealerships and no franchised sales, Bloomberg News reported.



NADA also said it would provide legal support for dealers suing the luxury electric-vehicle maker. Dealer groups in Massachusetts and New York have both sued Tesla, alleging that the company is violating state laws that prohibit automakers from owning dealerships. One plaintiff is a dealer that sells Fisker extended-range electric vehicles and is believed to be seeking a Tesla franchise. Tesla chief Elon Musk recently defended the company’s sales strategy and setup.



Musk argued that a traditional dealer would have a conflict of interest if he also sold more conventional vehicles. Musk also said that the nature of the Tesla involves more extensive knowledge of the vehicle than typically expected at a dealership, and that most conventional-car buyers walking into a dealer with Teslas wouldn’t buy the EV anyway.

Related GalleryTesla Model S: Quick Spin

By Danny King