Is Tesla Going Franchise?

For years after Elon Musk introduced the first Tesla Roadster model, he played his cards incredibly close to the chest. However, rumors are swirling that it might not be long before Tesla’s cars are in as many dealerships as their internally combusting vehicular counterparts.

Tesla has been legally (or illegally, depending on the reader’s perspective) banned in several states from selling its electric cars directly to consumers, but it may have found a workaround in Michigan. The Detroit News reported that Tesla submitted applications to earn licenses allowing it to sell and service its vehicles in partnership with dealerships around the state. The manufacturer currently has no sales operations in Michigan, so getting any kind of foundation laid with dealerships quickly is key.

While Michigan’s secretary of state could simply approve the applications and have Tesla go on its merry way, it appears as if the electrical vehicle manufacturer is already prepared for an adverse ruling in this scenario. In fact, the licensing application could force Michigan to clarify whether or not Tesla is actually prohibited from selling vehicles directly to consumers in the state.

“Submission of the application is intended to seek the secretary of state’s confirmation of this prohibition,” a Tesla spokesperson said in a statement to The Detroit News. “Once confirmed, Tesla will review any options available to overturn this anti-consumer law.”

If Tesla happens to receive approval for the licensing framework, it will still have some legwork to wrap up before it can start making money off of Michigan motorists. The Verge explained that state law mandates that licensing car manufacturers either have one of their own repair facilities within 10 miles of any partnering dealership or a fully equipped and trained third-party facility capable of servicing Tesla vehicles. Tesla has hinted at a Detroit area plant over the past several months, which could satisfy the repair requirement for a good chuck of Michigan’s consumers.


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