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It’s getting a lot of attention: the Tesla, the luxury electric car that has excited many car enthusiasts. The price tag is high and only a handful of people in Connecticut own one. It’s a great product!

Connecticut’s car dealers have a solution: let us sell them for you. Currently, a consumer can buy a Tesla only from the manufacturer in California. 

Tesla is asking Connecticut’s lawmakers to pass a bill that would allow direct sales from the manufacturer. If this happens, consumer protections will be lost.

Some remember the Yugo, the car from the 1980s that was briefly all the rage? When the company went belly up, Yugo owners were left without a safety net: dealers who would be able to repair the cars and honor their warranties.

When it comes to recalls, warranties, and securing the lemon law, dealers have been advocates for consumers whenever problems arise or car companies fail. The GM ignition switch recall and the collapse of SAAB are two recent examples in which dealers advocated for consumers.

There are approximately 300 car dealers in Connecticut and they have a strong incentive to treat their customers well; they want you to keep coming back. A large manufacturer such as Tesla has less reason to focus on the consumer’s long-term benefit.

We find it curious that Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, wants to circumvent the auto laws and rules that we all follow. This is particularly surprising given that this past week at the Detroit Auto Dealers meeting Mr. Musk said that he is open to working with franchise dealers. Why ask our busy legislators to spend time on this bill?

Connecticut dealers hope that Tesla will reconsider legislation if the company is serious about working with us. CARA dealers have been in the business of selling cars since 1911. We sell all types of electric cars and even maintain charging stations open to the public free of charge; we can do that for Tesla, too. I am happy to meet Mr. Musk any time here in Hartford or at his office in Palo Alto to discuss this offer.

Jim Fleming is President of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association. He can be reached .

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