GM asks Ohio governor to not allow 'different set of rules' for Tesla stores

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General Motors earlier this month sent a letter to Ohio Gov. John Kasich expressing concerns into whether the state was going to permit electric-vehicle maker Tesla Motors Inc. to expand beyond its two Ohio storefronts.

Ohio is among states proposing to ban Tesla from setting factory dealerships. Dealers argue that Tesla’s direct-sales model weakens conventional dealerships.

“We understand discussions are ongoing over legislation which could provide a broad exemption for a single manufacturer, Tesla Motors Inc., to circumvent long-established legal precedent on how new motor vehicles are marketed, sold and serviced in your state,” wrote Selim Bingol, GM’s senior vice president of global communications and public policy.

Simply put, GM is asking Ohio to oppose this initiative on the grounds that it would “essentially allow Tesla to compete under a completely different set of rules.”

And it’s not alone in its stance.

Last week, New Jersey officials, with members appointed by Gov. Chris Christie, voted unanimously to bar any form of direct automotive sales in the state.

Tesla has also drawn opposition from state dealers and associations that represent them.

Joe Cannon, a lobbyist for the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association, in testimony last week, told Ohio lawmakers that the decision opens the door for all manufacturers to follow the same path, the Associated Press reported.

“This decision has serious implications for both our dealers and consumers,” Cannon told the Senate Finance Committee. “From an industry perspective, our members have made substantial investments in their businesses, employees and communities across the state."

Most recently, an Arizona Senate committee pushed forward a bill that would allow the automaker to sell its vehicles directly to consumers.

Arizona was named one of the leading contenders for Tesla’s planned gigafactory to make lithium ion batteries. The factory is estimated to cost about $5 billion and ultimately employ about 6,500 people.

Yahoo! Autos on Thursday reported on the GM efforts in Ohio.

You can reach Andrew Thurlow at athurlow@crain.com.


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