In order to sidestep restrictions in states that prohibit automakers from also being retailers in favor of the dealership model, Tesla is stepping up attempts to create showrooms on tribal territories where it can sell directly to people.
This week, the federally recognized Mohegan Tribe, which owns the Connecticut casino and entertainment complex Mohegan Sun, announced that the California-based electric car manufacturer will open a showroom with a sales and delivery center this fall on its sovereign property, where state law does not apply.
The information follows the announcement of a second new Tesla showroom in June, which is scheduled to debut in 2025 on property owned by the Oneida Indian Nation in upstate New York.
The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, which has fought for years to amend Connecticut’s statute, was led by Lori Brown, its executive director. “I think it was a move that made completely sense,” she said.
She referred to two other electric car manufacturers and stated, “It is really astonishing that it took this long, given Tesla had really tried, along with Lucid and Rivian.
Anything that increases the number of electric cars on the road is good for the public. Regardless of their political affiliation, lawmakers who had active vehicle dealerships in their districts have historically opposed laws permitting direct-to-consumer sales, according to Brown.
Since these bills have been fought for years by the Connecticut Automotive Retail Association, it is necessary to strike a balance between upholding tribal autonomy and “maintaining a culture of peace.”
Hayden Reynolds, the association’s chair, said in a statement, “We respect the Mohegan Tribe’s sovereignty and the exceptional situation in which they operate their businesses on Tribal land, but we strongly believe that this does not change the discussion about Tesla and other EV manufacturers with direct-to-consumer sales, and we continue to oppose that model.
“Consumers benefit from a competitive market provided by Connecticut’s dealer franchise laws.” Over the years, Tesla has applied for and been denied dealership licenses in a number of states. It has also campaigned for legislative changes and litigated judicial rulings.
Earlier this year, the Delaware Supreme Court overruled a decision upholding a state official’s decision to forbid Tesla from selling its cars to direct customers, giving the business a victory.
According to Jeff Aiosa, executive director of the Connecticut dealers group, at least 16 states have effectively modified their rules to let Tesla and other direct-to-consumer manufacturers sell there.
He doesn’t envision Connecticut amending its law, pointing out that it is now followed by 32 “original equipment manufacturers,” a group that includes well-known automakers like Toyota and Ford.
When all the other manufacturers follow the state franchise requirements and Tesla wants this exception to circumvent the law, he added, “it’s not fair to have an uneven playing field.” “I would contend that their turning to the sovereign nation is indicative of their unwillingness to obey the law.”
In 2021, Tesla constructed its first retail and repair facility in New Mexico, on territory owned by Native Americans.
Although the project had been in the works for years, the facility, constructed at Nambé Pueblo, north of Santa Fe, marked the first time the company partnered with a tribe to circumvent state laws.
At the time, Brian Dear, president of the Tesla Owners Club of New Mexico, projected that other states with laws prohibiting direct auto sales from manufacturers would likely follow New Mexico’s example.
“I don’t believe at all that this will be the last,” he declared. The Tesla Sales & Delivery Center, a Tesla facility at Mohegan Sun, will be situated in the vast casino complex’s eating and shopping pavilion.
Models will be available for test drives around the resort. and gamblers will have the option of using their loyalty points to buy Teslas. Tesla also intends to display its solar and storage products there.