Indiana legislators have chosen to table the bill that has been nicknamed the “Kill Tesla” bill. It will be taken back up in the summer, but for now Tesla Motors will continue to be allowed to bypass the dealership model.
The bill, though put forward by legislator Kevin Mahan, has been heavily backed and was originally suggested by GM motors. This comes in wake of the growing rivalry between the Chevy Bolt and the Tesla Model 3, both being affordable long-range electric vehicles.
GM stated: “We will continue to work on this issue in Indiana and nationally, and will continue to express our concern anywhere we find market participants are operating under different rules.” What rules they are referring to isn’t exactly clear. Though they do currently operate under the dealership model, there is nothing stopping them from switching to the Tesla sales model.
Despite this, GM continues to make statements that position them as the victim of Tesla’s marketing plan. Their reasoning flip flops between feeling like Tesla is playing by different rules, and an apparent concern for Tesla customers who might have to travel to the next state over for service on their vehicle. Why they would think banning Tesla’s sales model from states one-by-one would help those consumers, and why they would be concerned for the customer satisfaction of another company remains unclear.
Other legislators have not been so convinced of the bill’s merit. Those opposed are saying that the rules of the American free market dictate that businesses may seek success in any way that is lawful. Of course, GM is working to make sure that it isn’t lawful, but legislators recognize that their attack on Tesla likely has more to do with their fear of waining sales than any real commitment to ethics.
Tesla, not having the same connections in government as GM, has reached out to their customers to defend them in the trial. “Let your voice be heard before that hearing to let them know that Indiana should encourage innovation, economic growth and consumer choice,” Tesla asked. “Don’t let GM tell you that your only option is to buy a car from a traditional franchised dealer by shutting out Tesla.”
The battle is not yet over, but the bill being tabled so quickly is certainly a good omen for Tesla’s fight in Indiana. GM may possess a lot of power in government, but the Tesla business model relies on the power of customer satisfaction. Only time will tell which approach will be the more effective of the two.