Tesla, through lobbying and the judicial system, has fought Michigan, Texas and other states that have effectively banned direct sales with mixed success.
The State of Michigan may have a ban on direct sales of Tesla vehicles, but the Michigan Department of Treasury has 339,623 shares worth $72 million invested for state retirement funds in Tesla Motors Inc. stock, according to a published report.
The Detroit Newsreported today that the state Treasury increased its shares in the electric automaker by 224 percent in the second quarter, buying about $48 million worth of shares.
In an email to The Detroit News, a Treasury spokesman said that “all investment decisions are made by a team of portfolio managers that are independent of state regulatory agencies.”
The report also said that the fund owned 104,821 Tesla shares as of March 30, before it increased its shares.
“Our original $25 million position in Tesla was relatively minor, and we added approximately $50 million during the past quarter,” the Treasury Department said in a statement to The Detroit News. “The additional shares did not materially add to the risk of the overall $60 billion investment portfolio.”
The fund’s Tesla stock represents 0.12 percent of the state’s $60 billion portfolio, the newspaper reported.
Michigan has perhaps been the biggest, and most public, thorn in Tesla’s side as it continues to try to open shop in the five states that it is barred from.
Tesla applied for a Michigan dealership license in November 2015, about a year after Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill prohibiting the direct sale of vehicles from automakers to consumers.
Just last week at the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars, Diarmuid O’Connell, Tesla vice president of business development, did single out the Detroit market as an especially difficult place to find EVs.
“I think if the Michigan Legislature would allow Tesla to sell cars in Michigan, we could probably address this,” he said, alluding to the state’s ban on the direct-sales model Tesla utilizes. Tesla, through lobbying and the judicial system, has fought Michigan, Texas and other states that have effectively banned direct sales with mixed success.
O’Connell told Automotive News that Tesla has been “very clear” that it would only sell its cars under a direct-sales model.
The Treasury also owns shares of Ford Motor Co., General Motors and supplier Delphi Automotive, the paper reported.