Michigan governor signs anti-Tesla bill

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed the “Anti-Tesla” bill into law Tuesday, making one of the nation’s most restrictive laws governing direct auto sales even stricter. Tesla has more than 200 Model S drivers in Michigan, home of the Big Three automakers. Earlier this morning, GM came out in favor of the legislation.

“This bill does not, as some have claimed, prevent auto manufacturers from selling automobiles directly to consumers at retail in Michigan – because this is already prohibited under Michigan law,” Snyder said in a letter to lawmakers that accompanies the signed bill.

The bill requires automakers to sell through a franchised dealer (either their own network of dealers or via another network of dealers) and not directly to consumers. Palo Alto-based Tesla, of course, does not have a dealer network as its vehicles are custom-ordered directly by consumers. The bill effectively makes it impossible for Tesla to open a store or gallery in Michigan. That means that potential Model S owners who want to learn about the vehicle or buy one have to travel out of state.

“This is an embarrassment for the State of Michigan and democracy,” said Daniel Crane of the University of Michigan Law School Tuesday. “When no one was looking, the car dealers slipped language into the bill that would strengthen their case against Tesla. They went to the Governor’s office and told his staff they needed this change in order to avoid the result in Massachusetts, where the Supreme Court ruled against them and in favor of Tesla.”

Tesla, which has fought battles against auto dealers in several states, recently published a blog post about the shenanigans in Michigan. The company also has 56 suppliers in the state and estimates it has created $170 million in direct economic activity in Michigan in 2014.

Snyder, a Republican, is in a tough re-election fight against Democratic challenger Mark Schauer.

Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan. Photo via the Governor’s website.




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  • patrik

    I think this is a good ruling. Because we all know Republicans love less government and aren’t into writing useless laws.

    Unless, of course, it benefits them, in which case they’ll pass all the legislation they need to keep their status quo.