Electric-Vehicle Firms Push for Their Own Dealerships in New York
By Jimmy Vielkind
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Electric-vehicle companies want New York
lawmakers to let them open more dealerships in the state, a move
that they and environmental groups said would expand sales of
emission-free cars and trucks.
Representatives of Tesla Inc., Rivian Automotive LLC and Lucid
Motors Inc. rallied outside the state Capitol Wednesday with
environmental advocates and Democratic legislators as part of a
push to change state law so electric-vehicle makers can sell
directly to consumers.
Tesla currently has five dealerships in and around New York
City, but state law prevents other auto makers from direct sales.
The five dealerships were grandfathered in before a 2014 state law
tightened requirements that vehicles be sold through independently
As a result, New York has lagged behind in the number of
electric vehicles sold, according to state Assemblywoman Patricia
Fahy, a Democrat from Albany. She sponsors a bill that would remove
the cap on dealerships owned by manufacturers and said she hoped it
would mean more options for people who live in upstate areas.
"Where those dealerships go, the sales increase," she said.
Just over 12,000 electric vehicles were sold in New York in
2020, according to Atlas EV Hub, an analysis firm. Of that number,
around 10,000 were sold at the five Tesla dealers and just under
2,000 were sold at traditional dealerships.
Laws completely prohibiting direct sales exist in 16 states,
including Texas and Connecticut, according to the Natural Resources
Defense Council, an environmental group that supports lifting those
bans. The group says another 11 states, including New York,
Auto dealers oppose the legislation, and say electric-vehicle
companies should operate under the same rules as other auto makers.
Hermes Fernandez, a lobbyist for the New York State Auto Dealers
Association, said in an interview that the legal change is
unnecessary as traditional auto makers expand their production of
"There is a distribution system now in place that has worked
well, that supports competition and Tesla's arguments, at this
point, are stale," Mr. Fernandez said.
Tesla officials declined to comment, and company representatives
didn't speak at the rally. Rivian spokeswoman Leslie Hayward, who
attended the Wednesday event, said the electric-truck maker wants
to establish direct relationships with customers. She said the
company was concerned traditional auto dealers, who derive
significant revenue from servicing gas-powered vehicles, wouldn't
prioritize the sale of electric vehicles.
John Bozzella, president of the Alliance for Automotive
Innovation, which lobbies on behalf of traditional automobile
manufacturers, said the pending legislation would "give certain
companies special treatment in this very competitive market."
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat from Nassau County who
sponsors the bill with Ms. Fahy, said it was important to expand
"We want to have our citizens in New York have as much choice as
possible -- whether it's going through a traditional dealership or
direct sales," he said. "We think overall, the competition will
allow more access to electric vehicles and lower the prices."
Representatives of environmental groups said vehicle emissions
are currently the largest source of greenhouse gas in the state,
and promoting electric-vehicle sales is necessary for New York to
comply with a law mandating the state reduce emissions 40% by
A spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said he would
review the legislation.
Write to Jimmy Vielkind at Jimmy.Vielkind@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 12, 2021 17:16 ET (21:16 GMT)
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