The Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, among others, is waving around a decades-old law as it calls the Silicon Valley automaker’s network of “Tesla stores” illegal. Dealership associations have long lobbied to make it illegal for automakers to sell cars directly to consumers. The idea behind the protectionist law is to prevent automakers from killing competition and driving independent franchises out of business.
The most recent example of independent dealers flexing their muscles involved a flagship dealership Chrysler owned in Los Angeles and sold to a local franchise to avoid endless lawsuits. For Tesla, though, it’s a bit different, because it isn’t actually selling cars.