A poll commissioned by electric car maker Tesla found that 76 percent of 600 likely Connecticut voters support legislation that would allow them to sell directly to consumers.
The same poll found that 63 percent would oppose capping the number of stores Tesla could build.
The General Assembly is considering legislation that would allow an electric car maker to open up to three retail locations and sell directly to consumers. No other car manufacturer, including those who make electric vehicles, are allowed to sell directly to consumers, which is why the legislation is being opposed by car dealers and manufacturers.
The poll found the measure has bipartisan support with 80 percent of Democrats 73 percent of registered independents and 72 percent of registered Republicans, supporting it.
Additionally, the poll by Myers Research and Strategic Services, found that “voters’ fiscal sensitivity remains salient, and the budget and tax battles coupled with the still sluggish economy, have fueled their anger and produced a palpable sense of frustration that legislators refuse to break from the status quo and consider new ways of doing business and creating new jobs.”
Seventy-three percent of voters give the General Assembly fair or poor ratings.
“Most concerning for incumbents, however, is that when asked if they would re-elect their representative or senator, pluralities favor someone new,” according to the polling memo.
Andrew Meyers, president and CEO of the polling firm, said “voters indicate they’re anxious to attract companies like Tesla who are shaping tomorrow’s economy and working to produce products that lead to energy independence.”
Will Nicholas, government relations manager for Tesla Motors, said, “the survey sends a crystal clear message to leaders throughout Connecticut: constituents are eager to attract companies like Tesla, with new approaches and cutting edge innovations that bolster Connecticut’s economy with new revenue and the good-paying jobs we need.”
There are only eight days left in the legislative session to get bills passed.
A similar bill cleared the House of Representatives last year, but stalled in the Senate.
James Fleming, president of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association, at a March 1 press conference on the bill said the franchise system works and is competitive.
“It understands the local market. It benefits consumers in price, selection, service and it’s committed locally in the communities where the dealerships are located,” Fleming said. “Tesla has never made a profit in that eight-year time period.”
Connecticut car dealers say there’s a misconception that they don’t want to sell electric vehicles or would steer customers to traditional cars that run on gasoline or diesel.
Leo Karl, owner of the Karl Chevrolet Group, said during a public hearing on the bill that they have mechanics to work on electric vehicles. And the legislation will damage Connecticut businesses for no reason.
Karl and other dealers have said if Tesla wanted they could sell directly to consumers now through the franchise system, instead of trying to change the law.
Tesla has said the franchise system doesn’t work with their business model.
“Tesla has not, nor has it ever had, any franchise dealers anywhere,” James Chen, vice president of regulatory affairs and general counsel at Tesla, told the Transportation Committee earlier this year. “Instead, Tesla has always sold its vehicles directly to consumers.”