Tesla in Michigan is facing a possible ban from selling its electric cars directly to consumers after the state legislation cleared the chambers.
The bill, dubbed H.B. 5606, is now awaiting the signature of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. It was first introduced in May and crafted to determine whether automakers could stop affiliated franchised dealers from charging customers certain types of fees in Michigan. Tesla says there’s a basic fairness issue with the bill.
Daniel Crane, a University of Michigan law professor, wrote in a letter sent to Snyder’s office today. It read:
“Right now the governor’s office is evaluating the bill, and there has not been a decision to sign it or not sign it as of yet.”
The deadline to sign the bill is Oct. 21. The bill’s sponsor, Michigan Rep. Aric Nesbitt, a Republican, told Crain’s Detroit Business, an affiliate of Automotive News, that the Telsa Michigan bill first passed in the House in mid-September and that it had nothing to do with Tesla.
But once the bill was sent to the Senate on Oct. 1, the anti-Tesla language was added, and there was no debate or public attention brought to the revised measure.
The amended bill passed the Senate 38-0 on Oct. 2 and was sent back to the House, where that afternoon it was approved 106-1 with the new anti-Tesla Michigan language.
Terry Burns, executive vice president of the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association, said Wednesday that Tesla is “more than welcome” to come to Michigan, but he would assume that the automaker would want to follow Michigan law.
“One good thing about being governor, you get to do whatever you think is appropriate at the time … We hope and look forward to him signing the bill and clarifying the language, and we hope he does it soon.”
Diarmuid O’Connell, the automaker’s vice president of business development, said in an interview Wednesday that there’s a “basic fairness issue here.” He said Tesla in Michigan has been working in good faith with government agencies and lawmakers to explore how the company could market, sell and service vehicles in the state.
By adding the amendment at the last minute, O’Connell said dealers are acting against Tesla’s “sincere efforts” to do business. Tesla’s only request, O’Connell said, is that the issue be debated in public and “in the light of the day.”
The automaker already had its eye on the Tesla Michigan bill for several months. O’Connell said Tesla tracks bills across the country that affect issues between manufacturers and dealers because the automaker is “habituated to these sneak attacks.”