Tesla retail model faces new legal challenge in Ohio

Tesla faces opposition from dealers across the country who feel threatened by the company's plans to sell directly to consumers.

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Ohio new-car dealers aren’t giving up in their fight with Tesla Motors Inc.

After a dealership licensing amendment to block Tesla from selling vehicles in the state wasn’t taken up by state legislators earlier this month, dealers are now suing several parties to have Tesla’s retail license nullified, the Columbus Dispatch reported today.

Tesla, the Ohio Department of Public Safety and the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles are being sued. The plaintiff list includes Midwestern Auto Group in Dublin, Ohio, and Ricart Automotive Group, Groveport, Ohio, the Dispatch said.

"Frivolous lawsuits of this type are a waste of taxpayer dollars and aren’t done in the interest of Ohio consumers or residents," Tesla said in a statement.  "Instead, they stifle innovation, harm the economy and are antithetical to the free market."

The automaker has faced opposition from dealers across the country who resent Tesla’s plans to sell directly to consumers.

Tesla opened its first Ohio store earlier this month at the Easton Town Center mall in Columbus. Tesla, which also has a service center in Columbus, said it has plans to open another store in Cincinnati this month.

The automaker said it will employ 26 people in Ohio with the expansions and "add an initial $7 million in direct economic activity."

“This is the same kind of bullying from the dealers we’ve faced in other states,” James Chen, Tesla’s vice president of regulatory affairs and associate general counsel, told the Dispatch. “The dealers, when they’re defeated in the court of public opinion, in the media and in the legislature, they then go to the courts.”

You can reach Vince Bond Jr. at vbond@crain.com. -- Follow Vince on Twitter

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