A circuit judge in Virginia has allowed the state's auto dealers group to proceed with an appeal that challenges the state's approval for Tesla Inc. to open a second store in the state.
Tesla faces ongoing legal battles across the country over selling its cars online and through its own stores, not through franchised dealerships.
Virginia Circuit Judge Gregory Rupe, in a ruling filed Monday, approved the request of the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association to appeal the state's decision, filed in 2016 by Richard Holcomb, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner. The judge said he would allow the suit to proceed, citing Virginia's 452 car dealers as the "aggrieved party," and said the association has legal standing to file its suit.
Rupe's ruling also would allow the association to introduce two Virginia dealers as key witnesses in the case, which was previously prevented, according to Michael Charapp, an attorney representing the association in the case.
"We want Tesla to operate on the same basis of every other dealer in the state," Charapp said. "Dealers understand how to serve their customers and protect their employees."
In a statement emailed to Automotive News on Thursday, Tesla said it was "disappointed" by the court's decision, but added the company will "remain fully committed to doing business in Virginia and serving the public interest in sustainable energy better than any franchise auto dealer could."