Car Industry

Tesla takes Michigan governor, other officials to court over sales ban

This comes on the heels of Michigan's rejection of Tesla's dealer application.

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Tesla's stores are less like dealerships and more like Apple Stores. Employees don't work on commission, and they're usually found in malls and shopping districts.

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Making thinly veiled legal threats is an American pastime -- ask anyone who's ended up in a fender bender with a lawyer. Tesla's taken it one step further: After being rejected for a dealer license in Michigan, the company is suing several top officials in the state.

Tesla filed its lawsuit against Governor Rick Snyder and several other officials at the US District Court in Michigan, Reuters reports. This is an attempt to change the 2014 law that prevents Tesla from selling or repairing vehicles in the state. At this moment, Michiganders looking to purchase a Tesla must do so in another state.

Earlier this month, Tesla was rejected for a dealer's license, after officials argued that the manufacturer couldn't be both the franchiser and the franchisee. Tesla's wish to sell vehicles in all 50 states remains unfulfilled, with only about half the states in the US allowing Tesla to operate its stores at the moment. Some states limit the number of stores, while others have banned the practice outright, like Michigan.

It's a murky topic for sure. Laws prevent manufacturers selling cars directly to customers, as that would cut into the traditional franchised-dealership model. Dealership groups across the country see Tesla as a threat, not only to the status quo, but also to their future financial well-being.

On the other hand, there's the argument that this is little more than protectionism for an industry that has been largely supplanted by the internet, and that its strong legal protections are the only thing preventing the traditional dealer model from going the way of the milkman.