A fan of electric carmaker Tesla Motors has started a White House petition asking for the company to be able to sell directly to customers in all 50 states. Tesla’s innovative and (as it turns out) disruptive sales model is such that its all-electric cars are not sold through traditional third-party dealerships, but rather directly to customers through Apple-like retail stores.
The White House petition says that, “States should not be allowed to prevent Tesla Motors from selling cars directly to customers. The state legislators are trying to unfairly protect automobile dealers in their states from competition. Tesla is providing competition, which is good for consumers.”
Several U.S. states are considering banning direct sales, according to CNBC, and Texas already has this as law. So in Texas, Tesla has the frustrating situation of being allowed to display its electric cars in its stores to would-be customers, but not being able to sell them. Auto dealers have a great deal of political clout with many state governments, as dealerships are big producers of tax revenue. Appealing to the Obama Administration at the federal level in this way may be a way to change the situation nationally.
So far, the petition has just over 18,000 signatures, and needs a total of 100,000 by July 5 in order to even be reviewed by President Obama. Obviously, Tesla Motors is keen to see this petition get up, and has been rallying support via its official Twitter profile. As of writing, founder and CEO Elon Musk had not used his own substantial Twitter following (over 242,000 followers) to rally support for the petition.
The Tesla fan who created the petition, known only as “Ken”, has told CNET that he started it because he doesn’t think states should prevent sales of cars directly from company to customer. He says that he is not a Tesla employee but does own stock in the company, and would like to buy a Tesla car one day. If this petition ends up being successful, I wonder if Tesla will consider some sort of substantial discount for Ken?
Feature image CC licensed by Phil Denton: Tesla store in California.