Chen maintains that, without or without a factory investment, Rivian's direct-sales model is good for Georgia.
It is about "giving Georgians the right to be able to purchase the vehicle how they want," he said. "I'm optimistic ... legislators will have the political courage to vote for policy that helps support and promote local businesses wishing to invest in the state."
But Georgia's franchised dealers say Rivian's big-dollar investment in the state does not warrant a change in state law meant to protect consumers.
Dealer agreements and franchise laws ensure consumers "get the best product, backed by good service, and if anything goes wrong, there's protection for them," said Jimmy Ellis, president of Atlanta-based Jim Ellis Automotive Group.
Dealers argue that they are perfectly capable of selling and servicing EVs as their legacy franchises also pivot toward electrification. Currently, there are 31 all-electric models available to purchase in the U.S., with at least 10 more expected by year-end, according to Guidehouse Insights.
Dealers invest millions of dollars in training, equipment and charging infrastructure to sell and service the next-generation vehicles, said Ellis, whose group operates 20 stores representing 17 brands.
"We're all about electric vehicles — we know how to do it, and we will be the absolute rock stars when they really start rolling out," he said. "There's just simply not a need for a separate distribution, sales and service channel for motor vehicles, especially when they're riskier and don't offer the efficiency and effectiveness of the franchised network system."
Ellis, a state dealer association board member, points to Tesla's well-documented struggles with service capacity as a potential challenge automakers face when they take on the retail side of the business.
"You got customers waiting days to get repairs," he said. "If your endgame is to give the customer a great ownership experience, then that to me hasn't been improved."