Car dealers trying to head off Tesla Motors’ attempts to set up factory-direct showrooms in Ohio lost a round last month when a dealership licensing amendment that would have blocked Tesla from selling vehicles direct to retail customers in the state wasn’t voted upon in the state legislature. Now the dealers are trying the litigation route, suing Tesla and state agencies to have Tesla’s retail license voided. The defendants are Tesla, the Ohio Department of Public Safety and the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The plaintiffs include Midwestern Auto Group in Dublin, Ohio, and Ricart Automotive Group, of Groveport, Ohio.
Earlier this month Tesla opened up its first Ohio store in a mall in Columbus, along with a service center in the same city, presumably to service the cars sold at the mall. The EV company says it will open a second store in Cincinnati by the end of the year. To bolster it’s case with the Ohio public, Tesla announced that the expansions will mean another 26 jobs and “add an initial $7 million in direct economic activity.”
James Chen, Tesla’s VP for regulatory affairs and the automaker’s associate general counsel, called the dealers’ actions “bullying”, using a current buzzword. “This is the same kind of bullying from the dealers we’ve faced in other states. The dealers, when they’re defeated in the court of public opinion, in the media and in the legislature, they then go to the courts.”