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The ‘Tesla Bill’ isn’t about the environment, it’s all about benefiting Tesla

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Many Connecticut car dealerships offer universal charging ports that are compatible for any electric car, including Teslas. Dealers across Connecticut are investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in charging stations that are part of the charging infrastructure of our state. A number of these are super chargers, making the charging process fast and efficient.  The chargers at the dealerships are open to the public, whether you purchased your car at that dealership or not, and the majority are also free of charge.

Providing universal chargers is the right thing to do. It’s good for the environment. It demonstrates good corporate citizenship.

But as Tesla builds its charging network across the country, it offers ports only for Tesla vehicles.  The Tesla charging stations that are around the state are proprietary and serve only Tesla drivers.  Those chargers do not aid all the other EV drivers and therefore, they do not benefit the overall charging infrastructure of Connecticut.

In April of 2020, Governor Lamont entered Connecticut into the Zero-Emission Vehicle Memorandum of Understanding with other states, committing to putting between 125,000 and 150,000 electric vehicles (EVs) on state roads by the year 2025. This is a laudable goal that will improve the state’s environment, but Connecticut must first build a strong EV charging infrastructure if it hopes to entice consumers to purchase EVs. People need to know they can get to and from their jobs, travel around and through the state, and perform daily routines without being nervous about staying within range of accessible charging options.

Under the guise of wanting to put more EVs on the road, a bill being considered in the legislature would give special dispensation to one manufacturer to sell EVs directly to consumers. Unfortunately, this manufacturer (Tesla) has no real interest in contributing to this vital infrastructure.

Connecticut has more than 360 public EV charging stations and that number will continue to grow this year and next as more chargers are made available at dealerships. These chargers will help all EV owners and the state of Connecticut to have a charging network that residents and visitors know exists to ease range anxiety. This is a necessity to get more EVs on the roads.

Tesla’s decision on the proprietary chargers demonstrates quite clearly it is trying to build a two-tiered system. One for Tesla owners and one for everyone else. The business plan for Tesla is to gain advantage, at the expense of consumers, to dominate the market.

The “Tesla bill” being considered by the legislature provides a loophole in Connecticut’s laws on selling vehicles to the benefit of an out-of-state corporation. Tesla is asking for a change partly based on electric vehicles being good for the environment. If in fact they are pushing for a new law based on aiding the environment, why does Tesla refuse to build charging stations, within its network, capable of charging ALL electric vehicles, not just Tesla vehicles?

Legislators should be aware of a recent report from The Pew Charitable Trusts, which states Connecticut lags most of the country in personal income growth during the pandemic. In addition to the Pew report, the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis published a report in October 2020 that predicted Connecticut will struggle economically for a decade or longer after the Covid-19 pandemic.  That is all on top of Connecticut not making investments in transportation infrastructure.  The new auto dealers know the importance of a strong infrastructure, which includes a charging network for all electric vehicles.  They continue to aid this infrastructure with universal chargers.

If Telsa wants to contribute to environmental protections in Connecticut, it should not be building an exclusive charging network that benefits only Tesla drivers.

Tesla’s cars are as exclusive as their chargers.  Their business plan hurts consumers and makes Connecticut’s goals of more EVs harder to achieve.

 

 

Paul Garavel

Dealer Principal, Garavel Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge/RAM

6 comments

Bryan Meek May 4, 2021 at 7:47 am

Garavel does a lot for our local community and should be applauded. That said, I don’t see how the archaic reseller business model survives. They might be able fight Tesla and our state legislature is corrupt enough to play favorites, but eventually Amazon will buy a car company and crush every dealer out of existence. And if Amazon doesn’t like you or you oppose them, they’ll just deny your platform service. This is the way of the new world.

David Muccigrosso May 4, 2021 at 8:51 am

“Local Car Dealer Opposes Bill Legalizing Competing Distribution Model, Convinces Self ‘It’s About More Than Just Business'”

There, Nancy. Fixed that headline for ya.

No believer in free markets should take this anticompetitive nonsense seriously.

Kenneth Werner May 4, 2021 at 3:45 pm

With all due respect to Paul Garavel — and he deserves a lot — his letter wraps a lot of complexity around two simply stated issues.

1. Tesla installs charging stations that work exclusively with Tesla vehicles. That’s a strategic business decision that Tesla has every right to make. Naturally, public funds should not be used to subsidize one-brand charging stations.

2. The exemption Tesla seeks is to be able to sell its vehicles directly to consumers without going through a dealer. We could argue interminably over whether allowing direct-to-consumer vehicle sales is a good idea or not, but we don’t have to. Grant the exemption and let consumers (the market) decide which system they prefer, or whether both systems can co-exist.

Al May 4, 2021 at 6:58 pm

“The business plan for Tesla is to gain advantage, at the expense of consumers, to dominate the market.”

What is the expense to consumers here? The manufacturers that Mr Garavel represent are rolling out 10 new EV models this year. There’s nothing stopping FCA from putting up chargers to make those more viable choices.

Dealers are understandably the only one’s still pushing that the franchise model benefits consumers. There’s a reason Carvanna and Vroom have taken off. Dealers exploited the protection, didn’t adapt and consumers have gotten tired of it.

“Tesla’s cars are as exclusive as their chargers.”

Come on… A dealer knows better than anyone that there are different models at different price points for different needs and consumers.

Peter Franz May 4, 2021 at 7:09 pm

Yep, a fair amount of misinformation here.

First, car dealerships across the country, as well as in Connecticut have been opposing Tesla’s sales model, since the company’s beginning, instead of just competing. Saying “special dispensation” is very disingenuous, and really means the state will finally allow Tesla to sell cars the way they would like to sell cars: direct to consumers.

Secondly, Tesla, being the ONLY manufacturer who has built an electric charging system across the country for its customers, is probably scratching its head at the comment that these charging systems are “at the expense of consumers.” They couldn’t sell their product without them, as they were so far ahead of everyone else, they chose a system they deemed best, and in fact it has proven superior to other manufacturers. That’s Tesla’s right to do so, and in fact several (but not all) other EVs can charge at a Tesla charging station with an adapter. This is a very very rapidly changing technology, so “proprietary” is a fleeting term.

I do hope Detroit is ready for the changing automobile market, but I’ve seen their history, and it’s not pretty.

David May 5, 2021 at 7:26 am

Without a doubt, the most vulnerable spade to occupy in today’s market is the one between those who make the goods and those who buy it. That’s where dealers find themselves. Business models are changing fast and the protection of the law won’t last forever. It would be wise for dealerships to invest their time in creating new, innovative business models to ensure their future survival.

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