Tesla Motors Inc. looked for support from its suppliers in Michigan in the company's unsuccessful bid to get Gov. Rick Snyder to veto a bill that bans Tesla from selling its EVs directly to customers in the state.
Snyder said today he signed the bill.
But in its last-minute lobbying to kill the measure, Tesla reached out to its largest suppliers in Michigan to rally against House Bill 5606.
Several suppliers sent letters to Snyder asking him not to put his John Hancock on the bill.
Inteva Products sent a letter to the governor opposing any legislation that prevents Tesla from direct sales, said Karen Manardo, global marketing and communications director for the Troy, Mich., supplier.
“Obviously, if they [Tesla] are unable to grow their market here in Michigan, that affects us, so we oppose,” the bill, said Manardo.
Inteva supplies instrument panels for the Model S sedan. It’s one of 56 Tesla suppliers in Michigan. In 2014, Tesla will procure $170 million in parts and services from suppliers in the state, Alexis Georgeson, communications manager for Tesla, told Crain’s Detroit Business, a sibling of Automotive News.
Michigan, home of the Detroit 3, is the most populous state without at least one Tesla store or gallery, according to the company's website. The bill, introduced in May, was originally a single amendment to existing law designed to ensure that Michigan car dealers can tack additional fees on to the purchase price for all vehicles sold in the state.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Aric Nesbitt, a Republican, said the bill passed in the House in mid-September and had nothing to do with Tesla. But once the bill was sent to the Senate on Oct. 1, anti-Tesla language was added, and no debate or public attention was brought to the revision. The amended bill passed the Senate 38-0 on Oct. 2 and was sent back to the House, where that afternoon it was approved 106-1 with the new language.
Despite strong opposition from Tesla’s Michigan suppliers, the bill is supported by the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association and the National Automobile Dealers Association. “States are fully within their rights to protect consumers by choosing the way cars are sold and serviced,” Charles Cyrill, spokesman for NADA told Bloomberg News last week. “Fierce competition between local dealers in any given market drives down prices both in and across brands. While if a factory owned all of its stores, it could set prices and buyers would lose virtually all bargaining power.”
Earlier today, General Motors issued a statement urging Snyder to sign the bill, saying it will "help ensure that all automotive manufacturers follow the same rules to operate in the State of Michigan."
Automotive News staff and Crain’s Detroit Business reporter Chris Gautz contributed to this report.