In order to buy a Tesla currently, you have to leave the state.
“I got a Model X. Retired from the Army, moved to Connecticut, and noticed that it was illegal to buy a Tesla in Connecticut,” says Tesla owner Dominic Sansone.
In Connecticut, carmakers have to sell through a dealership. For years, Tesla has unsuccessfully pushed to sell directly to customers.
Now, it has a powerful ally – state Sen. Will Haskell, who is now in charge of the powerful state Transportation Committee.
“We’ve got a bold goal in Connecticut of getting 500,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030. The problem is, we are nowhere close to meeting that goal,” he says.
It’s no longer just Tesla, either. Upstart carmakers Lucid and Rivian are joining the fight.
“Rivian, like Tesla, Lucid, is ready and willing to invest in Connecticut,” says Kaitlin Monaghan, of Rivian Adventure Vehicles.
But car dealers sell their own electric vehicles. They say cutting them out risks thousands of jobs and is dangerous for customers.
“Just last year, I had nine customers have a Lemon Law issue or a trade assist issue that, if I wasn’t here to help work between them and the manufacturer, they would have had to get attorneys,” says Tim Kraemer, of the BMW of Bridgeport.
“S.B. 127 would provide special treatment to companies that don’t want to compete fairly with traditional automakers or follow current Connecticut auto sales laws,” the Alliance for Automotive Innovation said in a statement.
The bill does not allow carmakers who already have dealerships in Connecticut, like Ford or Chevrolet, to open direct-sales locations. It only applies to electric vehicle manufacturers without an existing dealer presence.
“We want to take care of our customers directly. We’re in the business of making our customers happy,” says Jeff Curry, of Lucid Motors.
Meanwhile, electric vehicle buyers are caught in the middle.
“I had to go to Mount Kisco, so all that money, waiting for the car, all those things – that all went to New York. Didn’t go to Connecticut,” says Sansone.
The electric vehicle bill still has a long way to go up in Hartford. It’s got to clear the state Transportation Committee and then clear both houses of the General Assembly.
The Transportation Committee will vote on the bill Wednesday morning.
News 12 Connecticut’s John Craven is taking a deep-dive into electric car sales this week on Connecticut Power and Politics.