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GM First Car Manufacturer to Speak Out Against Tesla Motors’ Direct Sales Model

Tesla Motors in Ohio, General Motors Speaks Up
Tesla Motors in Ohio, General Motors Speaks Up

The only automaker to stand up to the automobile dealer associations (ADA), the Tesla Motors direct-sales strategy has been welcomed in some states, but obstructed in others.

For the most part, the most vocal participants in this struggle have been the ADAs, in whose pocket sit the politicians, and Tesla Motors, the only automaker selling cars directly to the consumer, as well as a few consumer rights groups. The Tesla Motors strategy has the ADAs up at arms because, ostensibly, this might change the way that other automakers interact with the customer. Really, the ADAs have only their own substantial financial interests at heart, while consumers must be content to whine about poor customer service. (Having worked hard to change that impression, I can tell you that automobile dealers, as a whole, have a horrible reputation, and changing the problem from the inside is a nigh-impossible task.)

Interestingly, one party has been silent during this discussion regarding Tesla Motors right to sell directly to the consumer, instead of through the ADA, has been the automakers themselves. One would think that, if the automakers were interested in maintaining or changing their relationship with the ADAs, they could exert considerably more force than the ADAs themselves.

Well, in the fight between Tesla Motors and the ADAs, one automaker has finally spoken out, General Motors. General Motors Vice-President of Global Communication Selim Bingol send a letter to Ohio Governor John Kasich, to effect that Tesla Motors should not be allowed to operate “under a completely different set of rules” than other automakers. Bingol went on to write, “We understand discussions are ongoing over legislation which could provide a broad exemption for a single manufacturer, Tesla Motors Inc., to circumvent long-established legal precedent on how new motor vehicles are marketed, sold and serviced in your state.”

So, General Motors is the first to speak up, will this awaken other automakers to do the same? General Motors earned some $3.8 billion last year, which is a decent financial hammer to wield against Tesla Motors, but consider Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), who earned some $23.7 billion dollars last year. Surely TMC could reinforce or smash the ADAs with that kind of hammer. (Personally, I vote “smash.”)

Photo credit: Edsel L / Foter / CC BY-SA

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  1. beepee  Direct sales only affects the dealerships, but the product is in the hands of the automakers. Personally, I think General Motors speaking out about it is just a way to say they’re scared of Tesla Motors. I think the problem is that most automakers are starting out assuming that the public isn’t ready for full-on electric vehicles that perform as well as conventional vehicles (mainly because they’re damned expensive). They’re worried about their bottom line. Really, though, this comment should have gone under https://www.greenoptimistic.com/2014/03/19/tesla-motors-tortoise-automotive-industrys-hare/

  2. This comment is directed to “Ben has been a Master Automobile Technician for over ten years”. Tesla is not the problem. I am a “Poster-Boy” for GM and it’s products.  I’ve purchased the 2003 Cadillac CTS (credited for turning Caddy and GM around  – this just simply means that I can “see”.  But while waiting for Cadillac’s ELR plug-in for two years, I purchased, early 2013 the Lincoln MKZ non plug-in Hybrid, which is mechanically a Toyota hybrid clone, and is a disappointment on many levels, but costs literally half (MSRP $35k) what GM’s ELR base costs.

    Inter Tesla:
    I have seen the Tesla “body-off”.  Trust me, it’s a great concept, but it’s not filled with any advanced technology.  GM’s plug-in technology is close, as is Tesla’s, but as concepts go, neither is very radical, and both are steeped in “old” technology (seems “new” only in a stale automotive market).

    I am looking for a “GM” (or even a Tesla) to come forth and work with me to develop a product that will literally “put Tesla to sleep”, thereby rendering there “direct-sales” approach moot by eliminating the specter of the “carbon footprint” and at the same time arresting the tyrannical hand of the EPA (for now, anyway).

    So Bill, if you’re listening. . . . put me in touch with the GM innovators that can think way beyond their ELR and incorporate my new approach to automotive/transportation technology.

    New GreenOptimistic Subscriber


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