Ohio auto dealers are sparring at the Statehouse with California-based automaker Tesla, which sells next-generation electric cars from Ohio storefronts.
Ohio is among states proposing to block Tesla direct sales on grounds they undercut traditional auto dealerships. New Jersey officials recently approved a regulation effectively prohibiting automakers from going straight to customers. Tesla vice president Diarmuid O'Connell visited Ohio legislative leaders that same day to try to discourage them from passing similar restrictions in the state. He argues the several hundred vehicles Tesla has sold in Ohio represent a fraction of the market. He says direct-sales are needed to jumpstart electric-car technology and drive consumer prices down. Dealers with $2 billion dollars in annual payroll say their businesses can only prosper when the law separates manufacturers and dealers.