Following his big battery swap reveal in California Thursday night, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is turning his eye to New York. That's where a new tactic by the local auto dealers could put a damper on Tesla's electric-vehicle success story.
Specifically, Green Car Reports says, there are two nearly identical bills being stealthily moved through the New York state legislature (Assembly bill A07844 and State bill S05725) that would prohibit the state from registering any vehicles that had not been sold through an independent third party (i.e., a dealer). The move prompted Musk to Tweet, "Just heard that NY auto dealers are sneaking through a bill to shut down Tesla in NY. Please call your state senator!" He later sent out, "NY Assembly passing bill to shut down Tesla, but Senate holding the line. Appreciate senators resisting influence of auto dealer lobby."
"Just heard that NY auto dealers are sneaking through a bill to shut down Tesla in NY" - Elon Musk
It's the latest round in a fight that started when the state dealers filed a suit against Tesla's dealer-free sales method in late 2012. The New York Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that the dealers could not use the Franchised Dealer Act as a reason to sue competitors. The New York State Automobile Dealers Association has a letter (PDF) claiming the support of out-of-state groups like the Alliance of Automotive Manufacturers and the Global Alliance of Manufacturers. Tesla currently has three stores in New York, in Roosevelt Field, New York City and Westchester and two service centers there, in Queens and White Plains, and one more planned (in Long Island).
That outside support makes sense, since Tesla is embroiled in a struggle with dealers in other states (Massachusetts and Texas come to mind). Nationwide, dealers are putting up quite a fight against Tesla, which makes sense when you realize the automaker is the first to give them this much of a challenge before, at least in recent memory. Since Musk has talked about taking the dealer fight national, we don't think this is the last we'll hear of this story.