Opinion

Guest editorial: Utah Legislature should allow Tesla to compete

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  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    April 8, 2017 4:33 a.m.

    Joe,
    In your 9:57 post you seem to have the cart before the horse. As far as I'm aware, our laws handle breaches after those breaches occur. For instance a 20 MPH speed limit in a school zone does nit prohibit you from driving a car capable of attains 100 MPH. That speed limit simply imposes a penalty if you decide to drive faster than the posted speed limit. You seem to want to censor free speech before the fact instead of letting the law handle prohibited violations after the fact. I don't agree with that philosophy.

    I'm surprised that the Deseret News allowed you to reference a web site in your post. You may choose to use that web site as your guide in determining whether something meets your standards. I have no confidence in that site.

    The role of a newspaper is to keep government honest by informing the public about all things pertaining to legislation, execution of laws, and court rulings. This thread is about car dealers having influence regarding Tesla. I don't recall reading articles about dealers lobbying legislators in this newspaper.

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    April 7, 2017 9:12 a.m.

    Spangs - Salt Lake City, UT
    April 6, 2017 4:42 p.m.

    I am 100% certain that Tesla could find a local partner to open a Tesla dealership. I am with the Utah Supreme Court (gulp, and 2 Bits) on this one. I am for Tesla playing by the same rules as everyone else in our market.

    Now who wants to run the Tesla Dealership?

    ==========

    Yes, Tesla "could" easily find a local partner to open a dealership.
    but perhaps you don get it.

    Elon Musk, the man who OWNS Tesla [and a dozen other multi-billion dollar businesses] is trying to make a point.

    Why should HE have to?
    If America really and truly is "Free Market - CAPITALIST" - then he should not HAVE to.

    He doesn't need the money, people will buy his cars anyway elsewhere.

    Elon Musk is a man of character,
    and he is doing this to promote and establish free market capitalism.
    Something "Republicans" [of all people] have been fighting him tooth and nail now for over 10 years.

    If you say you are for free market capitalism,
    then stop with all the empty lies to everyone,
    and CHANGE the laws and actually do it!

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    April 6, 2017 7:18 p.m.

    2Bits... I would agree with you if Utah car dealers didn't have special rules to protect them from competition. Why should you be forced to buy a car through a dealer (who only acts as an agent of the car manufacture, but doesn't actually represent the manufacture). Why didn't Utah pass a law that hotels, airlines, and the like must sell their services through travel agents? Why didn't Utah pass a law that other manufactures aren't allowed to sell direct to end-user? Utah doesn't require software companies like SAP and Oracle from selling direct. Doesn't prevent cell phone companies from celling direct. Doesn't prevent Apple from selling direct. The list goes on and on - of those who are allowed to sell direct. Viviant sells direct to consumers...

    The people getting special treatment is the car dealers.

    Who better to represent, sell and warranty a product than the people who manufacture the product themselves. Who better can fix a product than the one who made it.

  • the greater truth Bountiful, UT
    April 6, 2017 6:31 p.m.

    @wasatchcascade

    Why must Larry Miller and Garff be protected?

    None of that helps or benefits the consumer.

    The market should operate in a way is best for the consumer not for multi-millionaire and billionaire owners.

  • Spangs Salt Lake City, UT
    April 6, 2017 4:42 p.m.

    I am 100% certain that Tesla could find a local partner to open a Tesla dealership. I am with the Utah Supreme Court (gulp, and 2 Bits) on this one. I am for Tesla playing by the same rules as everyone else in our market.

    Now who wants to run the Tesla Dealership?

  • zosomm90 Provo, UT, UT
    April 6, 2017 4:42 p.m.

    2 bits: I don't think Tesla can just "open a dealership". Current dealerships are not owned by manufacturers. That's the whole point of the law, to prevent manufacturers from doing that. What Tesla would have to do is contract with an existing dealer, like Larry H. Miller, in order to have a dealership opened.

    Once again, Tesla can't just "open a dealership." They could try to have a brand new dealer set-up shop in Utah, just to specifically contract with Tesla, but that would be extremely difficult.

  • Invisible Hand Provo, UT
    April 6, 2017 3:36 p.m.

    Why do we have laws preventing manufacturers from selling direct to consumers? I suspect the answer is that dealers wanted the state to give them monopolies. If the law goes away and car dealers in Utah go out of business then good riddance to a crony capitalist business model that was set up to gouge the consumer, and they have been getting away with it for decades now. Who lobbies for us consumers? We have to do it ourselves. Call or email you representative and let them know how you feel. Thousands of angry emails might outweigh thousands of lobbyist dollars.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 6, 2017 3:29 p.m.

    So... what's keeping Tesla from doing business in Utah? The legislature? Or Tesla?

    I think it's Tesla.

    All Tesla has to do is open a dealership in Utah. That's pretty easy. Lot's of people have done it.

    It's good to have a dealership in your State. Somewhere (a physical location) that's responsible for your car. Somebody you can complain to (or even sue) if there's a problem with the car. Someplace with trained people to provide warrantee service or fix recalls on your vehicle for free (Teslas are very specialized and have unique needs and skills in the people who work on them).

    Why NOT open a dealership?

    Anybody...

    What is the advantage (to the consumer) in NOT having a Tesla dealership to represent the company in your State?

    What happens if your Tesla breaks?

    3rd party vendors are not always as well trained and equipped as the factory representative/dealership.

    ===

    How is the legislature preventing them from doing business in Utah? By not changing our laws to accommodate them?

    It's easier to build a dealership than it is to change State Law to accommodate one dealer that doesn't want any physical presence in Utah.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    April 6, 2017 1:53 p.m.

    "You pay a tax when you register, but it's not sales tax. That is payed in the State where you bought it."

    That is not my experience. I have bought cars in other states and paid NO sales tax. I paid sales tax to my home state when I registered the car. below is from DMV org.

    " Even though you're buying a car from out of state, you'll pay the sales tax to the state in which you'll register the car—i.e. your home state."

    The dealership laws you talk about are bought and paid for by the dealerships. The right talks about reducing regulations. That is what this amounts to. It is purely a disguised rule to protect the profits of the dealerships and hence the money paid to the politicians.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 6, 2017 12:38 p.m.

    @liberal larry.
    RE: "Note to Logical Citizen: I believe that Utah gets their sales tax when you register a vehicle purchased out of state"...
    ---

    You do not pay "Sales Tax" when you register a car.

    You register our car every year. And you pay a tax. But it's not "sales tax". It's like $125 fee. Sales Tax on a $50K purchase (in SL County) would be $3,750. Significantly more.

    You pay a tax when you register, but it's not sales tax. That is payed in the State where you bought it.

    If you had to pay sales tax every time you registered your car... you would go broke.

    If you bought a car in California and then moved to Utah and register your car in Utah, you don't have to pay sales tax again.

    If I drove to California and bought a car... I assure you dealership would collect California Sales Tax. If I then drive to Utah and later register my car in Utah.. I don't pay sales tax again and double-pay sales tax.

    Some states collect "Impact Fees" when you register an out-of-state car. But that's not "sales tax". You pay "sales tax once". Where you buy it.

    Private sales may be different.

  • wasatchcascade ,
    April 6, 2017 12:18 p.m.

    Background; when GM and Chrysler filed bankruptcy - under the assume or reject contracts provision of the bankruptcy code - many long term dealers across the country (and in Utah)lost their licensing from both entities, even after spending millions on buildings, locations, landscape, interiors and flooring. If manufacturers were allowed - in this state - to sell direct to the public, then GM, Chrysler, Ford, Toyota, Honda.....could all set up shop, undersell the dealers by thousands and the Larry Miller and Garff entities of the region that had grown empires, would arguably be in dire straits. If an exception for "battery powered" vehicles existed, it would still allow all the major players to step into the state and sell. Myself, I'm not impacted by this, except that I understand the Motor Vehicle Dealers have concern. Tesla can bring in new vehicles, license and title them, and then turn around and sell them here, and be within the law - while technically the purchaser gets a used car; its one with 0-50 (or whatever) miles on it and is still defacto new. Other options exist for Tesla; I assume they will pursue them.

  • liberal larry Salt Lake City, UT
    April 6, 2017 11:52 a.m.

    I must be slipping to agree with all the conservatives on this board!

    We shouldn't arbitrarily allow restraint of free trade in Utah!

    (Note to Logical Citizen: I believe that Utah gets their sales tax when you register a vehicle purchased out of state)

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 6, 2017 11:38 a.m.

    @The Educator -
    RE: "Seeing how Donald appointed Betsy DeVoos for her $200 million in campaign contributions, it's obvious that money trumps free market ideology. It's sad that Utah is preventing Tesla from competing"...
    ---

    What does Betsy DeVoos have to do with this topic?

    What does Donald have to do with this topic?

    Nothing. Just more Democrat talking point blather.

    And while Tesla fans are weeping an wailing about Tesla's right to free market in Utah... why do you try so hard to vilify other corporations, like Wallmart, etc? And try to prevent them from opening a store in your town?

    Tesla is perfectly welcome to open a dealership in Utah.

    What they are NOT welcome to do is... violate our laws.

    You have to have a dealership in the State, and pay State sales taxes to sell cars in the State. I'm OK with that. It's the same for all auto coronations (not targeting Tesla at all).

    Oh yah, almost forgot. Get Educated.

    Tesla is free to compete in Utah. Under the same laws and rules other dealerships follow.

    Why does Tesla refuse to open a dealership in Utah? Taxes?

    No big deal to open a dealership (if they really want to do business here). Tesla has the money.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 6, 2017 11:24 a.m.

    RE: "Legislature should allow Tesla to compete"...
    ---

    Yes, they should be allowed to compete. Under the same rules that all dealerships are competing under today. Not under special rules for Tesla.

    Legislature isn't preventing Tesla from competing. Only Tesla is keeping Tesla from competing in Utah (by refusing to follow the rules the rest of the dealerships in Utah have to follow).

    Tesla could compete in Utah if they wanted... They are just more interested in changing the laws in Utah than they are about competing in Utah.

    All they have to do is open a dealership here that can represent the company and pay taxes in Utah and service their customers in Utah... and they could compete in Utah.

  • ldsironrodder Mt Vernon, OH
    April 6, 2017 11:18 a.m.

    Perhaps the Utah State Legislature needs a visit from the Tuttle Twins.

  • IceCreamGhost Sandy, UT
    April 6, 2017 11:08 a.m.

    Special interest voting at its finest.

    There is too much money in politics! We need campaign finance reform NOW.

  • The Educator South Jordan, UT
    April 6, 2017 10:33 a.m.

    Seeing how Donald appointed Betsy DeVoos for her $200 million in campaign contributions, it's obvious that money trumps free market ideology. It's sad that Utah is preventing Tesla from competing. Just who's bribing the Utah legislature to prevent Tesla from being able to compete? We should all be asking ourselves this.

    Get Educated

  • Logical citizen Bountiful, UT
    April 6, 2017 10:18 a.m.

    Buying a plane ticket to another state to buy a Tesla there would still be cheaper than dealing with a middleman here, and then we would pay sales tax in that other state. Maybe the loss of taxes would convince the leg that this anti-consumer, anti-democratic stance is not in their best interest.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    April 6, 2017 9:57 a.m.

    We already limit free speech. We do not allow slander. There are laws against swearing in public. There are laws against public nudity. All are free speech issues.

    "If the media did its job to inform the public ..."

    There is already a great source of this information. Check out opensecrets dot org. It provides all the information about who is getting what from who.

    " the public would fire politicians whose primary job is to raise money for their next election."

    Then we would have no politicians left. They all spend lots and lots of time raising money for themselves and their party.

    Take Paul Ryan for instance. He has raised an transferred lots and lots of money.
    According to the dailycaller

    "Ryan has sent almost $8 million to the organization (RNC) since the start of they year, and roughly $50 million since late 2015."

    Pretty impressive huh? Where do you think most of that money comes from? Corporations and unions or the average Americans. Not to pick on Ryan or the GOP. The Dems are just as guilty.

    You sincerely believe that free speech outweighs buying this much legislation?

  • Ray Winn Stansbury Park, UT
    April 6, 2017 9:26 a.m.

    Interesting sidenote on this article's lede: DC electricity is indeed still being used, at least in long-distance power transmission (see Wikipedia's article "High-voltage direct current", for example). So, the world continues in interesting complexities and developments.

  • Still Jim Bountiful, UT
    April 6, 2017 9:24 a.m.

    This law is merely a middleman protection racket. The only reason the dealers are against this is because they have control over the market and they don't want anyone to interfere with their control. It is not a free market when there is protection for one segment of the industry.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    April 6, 2017 8:54 a.m.

    Joe, to me the answer is not in prohibiting free speech but in expecting our news media to do its job in reporting which representative is talking with which lobbyist. If the media did its job to inform the public, the public would fire politicians whose primary job is to raise money for their next election.

    Responsible citizens respect our God given right to speak freely, whether with our own voice or whether we combine our voice with others, but responsible citizens hold all voices accountable. Responsible citizens make decisions based on past performance instead of listening to "fel-good" propaganda published by politicians.

  • Thomas Thompson SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    April 6, 2017 8:51 a.m.

    I suppose one argument would be that, if Tesla doesn't employ the same sort of "middleman" as every other dealer, it would have an unfair advantage in competing with them. While that may well be true, consumers come out ahead if the makers of the car can also sell it. So I do hope our Legislature finds some way to allow this to happen.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    April 6, 2017 8:46 a.m.

    I agree. Artificial constraints on trade in this matter is inappropriate.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    April 6, 2017 8:01 a.m.

    Mr Richards, Looks like you and I are in agreement here. And to answer your question. Nobody lobbies for us, the consumer.

    I see lobby and campaign reform as the solution with a tough limit on PACs and SuperPAC's. This would remove the incentive for elected officials to pander to people like the NADA.

    Are you on board with that? If not, what do you recommend to combat the problem that you recognize when you write "Dealers have millions of dollars to lobby our legislature."

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    April 6, 2017 7:54 a.m.

    Hmmm, let's see...

    If I make a taco - I can sell a taco.
    If I make a knitted sweater - I can sell a knitted sweater.
    If I build a house - I can sell a house.

    BUT in Utah --

    If I build a car - I can't sell it, because it's ILLEGAL!

    Republicans say they are for Free Markets, Business friendly, and pro-Capitalist.
    This only proves - they aren't.
    Pathetic.
    Show me, don't Tell me.

  • bass679 Novi, MI
    April 6, 2017 7:51 a.m.

    While I'm biased, Tesla is our biggest customer and I spend a lot of time with Tesla engineers; I don't see any reason to not let Tesla sell their vehicles. We have the same issue here in Michigan where the Big Three are very against Tesla opening up stores and have put their money and influence into keeping them out.

    Currently if you want to buy a Tesla here you have to Drive to Ohio and they can only have display showrooms in the Motor City.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    April 6, 2017 7:41 a.m.

    To keep costs down for the consumer, let Tesla sell direct to the consumer. No one can dispute the profits made by dealerships, just look at the Larry H. Miller empire. His family has "paid back" some of the profits by sponsoring entertainment, but it is the consumer who actually pays for everything that the Miller family sponsors. Tessa's model passes those savings directly to the customer. Dealers have millions of dollars to lobby our legislature. Who lobbies for us, the consumer?

  • Baron Scarpia Logan, UT
    April 6, 2017 6:33 a.m.

    Tesla doesn't want "middleman" dealerships because they've proven to NOT be interested in selling electric vehicles.

    Last year, the Sierra Club did a study where volunteers were sent to car dealers across the country as "mystery shoppers" to inquire/test drive electric vehicles. More often than not, electric vehicles were hard to find, not available, not charged up for test driving, etc. In fact, many of the volunteers noted that salespeople either disparaged electric vehicles or were misinformed about them. Some dealers openly told the mystery shoppers that they had no interest in selling electric vehicles.

    In short, with dealers themselves not prepared or willing to sell electric vehicles, Tesla does not want to hamper its future by relying on middlemen not sold on transportation's future. Dealerships make their money on aftersales service. With electric vehicles requiring so little maintenance (no oil changes, fuel pumps to replace, etc.), the dealers see plug-ins as a threat to their profits.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    April 6, 2017 6:17 a.m.

    It surprises me that a states that so proclaims to be business friendly, advocate of free markets, would be one of the few hold out states that forbids a manufacture to directly sell to its customer base. I am not sure what the possible "need" is to add a middle layer - adding cost to the end product. There are so many products and services customers are allowed to purchase from manufactures or providers direct, this exclusion for vehicles makes no sense.

    I doubt there is any clearer evidence that the Utah legislature is working for lobbyist rather than the public. The current policy surely doesn't represent the best interest of the buying public, but rather institutionalizes an unnecessary layer that only increases cost for every person in Utah.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    April 6, 2017 5:44 a.m.

    "if you pay enough money to lobbyists and claim that you are "protecting the consumer," you can accomplish almost anything."

    Capitalism is a great system. The best in the world. But it is a double edged sword.

    Competition brings better products and/or lower prices. All in the name of greater profit.
    However, business is often very good at maximizing profit. If that means "buying" a politician or two, so be it.

    Utah, the reddest of the red states has demonstrated that corporate money trumps conservative principles every time.

    And why my constant theme is that we need to "get the money out of our politics"