HARTFORD, CT — The showroom at the center of the controversy is closed, but the Supreme Court will be hearing arguments about what electric-vehicle manufacturer Tesla did or didn’t do at its Greenwich gallery while it was open for business.
“This office has no information regarding the reason for the transfer,” the court notice states regarding the case’s move to the Supreme Court docket.
The Greenwich gallery at the center of the controversy — Tesla’s first and only in the state — closed in March 2019 around the time that the company decided to stop pursuing in-person sales in an effort to concentrate on selling online. The company still plans on keeping stores in high visibility locations where the stores are effective.
The electric car maker sued the DMV in June 2017 after the department reached the same conclusion regarding the sale of vehicles without a dealer license. The DMV took up a complaint filed by the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association (CARA), which represents car dealerships in Connecticut.
Connecticut state law prohibits the direct sale of vehicles to consumers by manufacturers. It currently requires sales through a franchise dealership license.
Regardless of the current online-only focus of its sales operations, Tesla argued that it doesn’t believe its gallery activities require such a license.
In court documents, Tesla maintained that it “does no more at the gallery than display example vehicles, educate consumers about them and promote their benefits, and explain how consumers may lawfully purchase them online or at licensed Tesla stores in other states.”
Through a spokesperson back in December, the company said they disagree with the court’s decision.
“Tesla disagrees with the judge’s decision, and we stand by our mission to educate the public and raise awareness about the benefits of EVs because getting more EVs on the road is the right thing to do for the environment and for the battle against climate change,” a Tesla spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
Earlier this year Tesla’s decision to move all car sales online essentially killed legislation that would have allowed the company to sell directly to consumers.
Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the decision to transfer the case to the Connecticut Supreme Court.