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Tesla tests Cincinnati market, car dealers oppose

The Ohio Senate is still considering legislation that would prohibit car manufacturers from bypassing the dealer to sell directly to the public.

Tesla Motors is the poster child in this debate and WVXU went to the Kenwood Towne Center where the electric car company has one of two storefront locations in Ohio.

The Tesla store, near Nordstrom, is very unassuming except for the $70,000 vehicle in it. Joe Norton and his wife were checking it out, and made it clear they didn't want to go through a dealer. They said, "It's extremely expensive. You should be able to buy one wherever you want, period."

If they were to buy one, they wouldn't get it in the store, they'd order it online.

Doug Smith was checking out the Tesla charging stations in the mall's garage. He wouldn't buy a car on the Internet but says companies should be able to sell directly to consumers. "If P & G wants to sell Tide down on Sixth and Sycamore that's their prerogative. They're not going to get very good distribution, I don't think. But if you want to buy on the Internet, do it."

Vice President of Government Relations for the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association, Joe Cannon, says buying a car is not like buying shampoo, "because you have trade-in issues, you have sales tax issues and commercial activity issues." He is lobbying lawmakers to pass Senate Bill 260. It would limit Tesla to its current two locations in Ohio (Cincinnati and Columbus) and prevent other manufacturers from bypassing the dealer.

What other states are doing:

  • Arizona -a senate committee has approved Tesla selling directly to consumers
  • New Jersey has approved a regulation banning automakers from selling directly to customers
  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has promised to sign a Tesla ban
  • Georgia has limits on how many cars Tesla can sell
  • Colorado limited Tesla to one store
  • Massachusetts -Tesla won a lawsuit brought by dealers
  • Minnesota -a bill to stop Tesla was killed in the state legislature
  • North Carolina -bill stalled in the statehouse