"This is nothing more than a protectionist effort by General Motors," Bloomberg quoted Diarmuid O'Connell, vice president of business development at Tesla, as saying during a Jan. 27 hearing. "General Motors made a decision in the early part of the last century about their business model. I see no reason why, under general free-market principles, Tesla shouldn't have that same right."
After a hearing last Thursday, a committee in the state Senate sent the bill to "summer study," tabling it until the end of the legislative session. In a statement, GM indicated that the fight isn't over, saying the company "will continue to work on this issue in Indiana and nationally."
If passed, the bill would challenge Tesla's current business model, although CEO Elon Musk has long signaled that he would be open to franchised dealers in the long run. As the company grows, managing the daily operations of hundreds of showrooms and service centers could become a cumbersome distraction.
"At some point, we'd consider franchised dealers," Musk said in 2015 at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit, adding: "We would only do this if we were sure the customer would have a really good experience."