The Tesla automaker is opening more showrooms on tribal lands

The Tesla automaker is opening more showrooms on tribal lands: Tesla is ramping up efforts to open showrooms on tribal lands where it can sell directly to consumers, violating state laws that also bar vehicle makers from becoming retailers in favor of a dealership model.

Mohegan Sun, a casino and entertainment complex in Connecticut owned by the federally recognized Mohegan Tribe, announced this week that the California-based electric automaker will open a showroom along with a sales and distribution center on its sovereign property this fall without a state law.

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The news comes after another new Tesla showroom was announced in June, which will open in 2025 on New York’s Oneida Indian Nation land.

“I think it’s a move that made perfect sense,” said Lori Brown, executive director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, which has lobbied for years to change the law in Connecticut.

“It’s surprising that it took this long because Tesla really tried with Lucid and Rivian,” he said, referring to two other electric car makers.

Brown noted that lawmakers with car dealerships active in their districts, regardless of political affiliation, traditionally allow consumer-to-consumer sales and have opposed the bill.

The Connecticut Automotive Retail Association, which has opposed such bills for years, said there needs to be a balance between respecting tribal sovereignty and “maintaining a level playing field” for all car dealerships in the state.

The Tesla automaker is opening more showrooms:

“We respect the Mohegan Tribe’s sovereignty and unique circumstances in conducting business on its tribal lands, but we strongly believe that this will not change the way Tesla and other EV manufacturers negotiate direct-to-consumer sales, and we continue to oppose. That model,” Hayden Reynolds, the association’s chairperson, said in a statement. “Connecticut’s dealer franchise laws benefit consumers and provide a competitive marketplace.

The Tesla automaker is opening more showrooms on tribal lands
The Tesla automaker is opening more showrooms on tribal lands

Over the years, Tesla has sought and been denied dealership licenses in many states, pushing for law changes and challenging the decisions in court. The company scored a victory earlier this year when Delaware’s Supreme Court overturned a ruling that upheld a decision by state officials to ban Tesla from selling its cars directly to consumers.

Jeff Iosa, executive director of the Connecticut Dealer Association, said at least 16 states have effectively changed their laws to allow Tesla and other direct-to-consumer manufacturers to sell there. He doesn’t foresee Connecticut changing its law, noting that 32 “original equipment manufacturers,” a list that includes major car companies like Toyota and Ford, currently comply.

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