White House petition backs direct sales of Tesla cars

None of Tesla's all-electric vehicles are sold in car dealerships, which could be a problem in states that are looking to ban auto manufacturers from selling directly to customers.

Tesla's all-electric Model S sedan. Josh Miller/CNET

A Tesla fan is asking the White House for help. He wants the federal government to stop states from requiring that cars be sold only by third-party dealers.

In a White House petition he created, the fan asks the Obama administration to "allow Tesla Motors to sell directly to consumers in all 50 states." He believes that states shouldn't be allowed to stop the electric car company from selling autos directly to customers.

"The state legislators are trying to unfairly protect automobile dealers in their states from competition," the fan writes in the petition. "Tesla is providing competition, which is good for consumers."

The fan, Ken (who doesn't want his last name used), told CNET that he created the petition because he doesn't think "states should prevent direct car sales." He said that he doesn't work for Tesla but does own some stock in the company. He also said he looks forward to buying a Tesla vehicle someday.

For the petition to be reviewed by President Obama it needs 100,000 signatures by July 5. As of this writing, it has nearly 17,000 signatures.

Normally, selling cars via third-party dealers isn't a big deal, since it's the way most car manufacturers sell their vehicles. But, for Tesla, it matters. The electric car company only sells its vehicles directly to buyers.

According to CNBC, several states are considering banning direct vehicle sales. However, only Texas has the law currently in place. So, while Tesla can show its all-electric Model S sedan in Texas car galleries, it cannot sell the vehicle in that state.

Auto dealers have a lot of political sway with state governments. They give a lot in donations to state lawmakers and car dealerships are one of the biggest generators of tax revenue for states, according to CNBC.

In the world of car manufacturers, Tesla is a fledgling company. It was founded just 10 years ago and began deliveries of its Model S in 2012. In May, CEO Elon Musk announced that the company had finally reached profitability for the first time .

CNET contacted Tesla for comment. We'll update the story when we get more information.

Updates, 8:20 p.m. PT: Corrects that the petition was created by a Tesla fan and not the car company. Adds comment from Tesla fan Ken.

 

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