After failing to change state law to enable the direct sale of its automobiles to consumers, Tesla has found a way to get its vehicles before Connecticut drivers.
The Elon Musk-founded company has begun leasing its automobiles from its service center in Milford. According to a report on the news site Electrek, Tesla noted that while state law prevents it from having a retail presence in Connecticut, there is no law prohibiting it from leasing Teslas to interested drivers who would then have the option to buy the automobile online or out of state.
“A Tesla leasing location can offer leases but cannot conduct any activity related to the sale of a motor vehicle,” the company said in a statement to a Connecticut club for Tesla owners. “Because it is a manufacturer, Tesla is not eligible to apply for a dealer license under state law, but Tesla is eligible to hold a leasing license, and thus is authorized to offer leases in Connecticut.”
The Connecticut Franchise Act prohibits the direct sale of automobiles from manufacturers to consumers. Tesla had operated a “gallery” in Greenwich that enabled prospective buyers to examine and test drive vehicles for later purchase by telephone and internet, with delivery taking place outside of Connecticut. The Greenwich venue was shut down in March, and the company has unsuccessfully attempted to lobby the state legislature to change the law on direct automobile sales. In July, the Connecticut Supreme Court agreed to hear Tesla’s argument on overturning the Connecticut Franchise Act.
Last week, the Westport Police Department announced its purchase of a fully electric 2020 Tesla Model 3, making it the first Connecticut law enforcement agency to include a Tesla in its automotive fleet.