North Carolina may ban Tesla sales to prevent “Unfair Competition”

A car dealership trade union in North Carolina has persuaded the state's Senate Commerce Committee to unanimously approve a law that would prohibit automakers from selling cars.
The bill is being pushed by the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association, a trade group representing the state’s franchised dealerships. Its sponsor is state Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Republican from Henderson, who has said the goal is to prevent unfair competition between manufacturers and dealers. What makes it “unfair competition” as opposed to plain-old “competition” — something Republicans are typically inclined to favor — is not entirely clear.

North Carolina May Ban Tesla Sales To Prevent “Unfair Competition” (Thanks, Marty!)


  1. Is a Tesla really that awesome?

    Plus, Streisand Effect — if the ban goes into effect, people in NC will hear about a car they’d never heard of before, and then cross the state line to check them out. And in some cases, to buy one.

    1. On your first question, no.

      On the second part…hardly.  People in the Triangle area and Charlotte (and a few other places) may be willing to drive out of state to inquire about a Tesla, but the majority of NC citizens could care less about it.

      I see right many hybrids on the roads, but hardly any electrics.  Obviously Tesla has the mileage for the way a lot of people drive in NC (commuting 15-30 miles to work), but it’s price tag is also fairly high for the income levels outside of RDU/Charlotte.

      1.  The majority of NC citizens could care less about it.

        If that were true then the auto dealerships wouldn’t be throwing lobbyist money at banning it, would they?

        1. Lol, I must admit, I’m a grammar nazi, but I’ve resigned myself to the common error “whoever could care less”.  I used to say, I care a lot less than whoever, but that just confused people.  I then switched tact and would say, “so they must care a lot”, same results.  Eventually I’d ask, “so what could they care less about?” but still nobody got it.  So I just gave up.

          1. Although, an “Although,” at the beginning of a sentence should be replaced with “However,” no?

          2. @Antinous_Moderator:disqus
            Thanks, but I already have a Specialized Sirrus. I test rode a Paramour…meh…not worth their price, IMHO. This joke is too long for this thread :-/

          3.  Weirdly, the phrase ‘couldn’t give a fuck’ isn’t mangled in the same way. But I feel your pain.

          4. Yep. You got me.
            Perhaps I’m not so much a grammar nazi as just somone who really dislikes logical inconsistencies in writing.

        2. NC really has a couple of different social/culture climates.  The triangle and to some extent Charlotte are home to your larger companies, especially tech oriented ones.  They are also home to a much larger percentage of out of state residents (not saying that’s a bad thing, just pointing it out).  So you end up with areas where there is simply more money and higher pay – Cary, NC is a great example, BMW’s, Lexus, Mercedes are in practically every driveway.  However once you move outside of these areas you enter a more rural/blue collar kind of environment.  That’s not to say there aren’t companies that pay really well else where, but they aren’t as common as in the large metro areas either.  So to see a new $75k car is much less common (however to see a $50k truck isn’t….)

          On a smaller scale it is like comparing New York the state to the city.

          To answer your question, I think it’s more because they can.  If you have lived here for a while you begin to realize our state government is heavily influenced by big groups/companies and lobbying… 

        1.  Is there a specific term for rating the amount of caring? I’m thinking of the way people came up with the term milliHelen to describe the amount of beauty needed to launch a single ship. I was toying with the idea of patooties but it feels like there should be something better than that.

          1.  I’d always heard caring was measured in units of “damns,” but the previous suggestions to your question are far superior.

        2.  Well, I think they could care less. Unless, of course, they couldn’t. In which case…..

      2. I looked at autotrader, and there are between a 1,000 to 2,000 cars for sale costing more than 75k within 200 miles of Raleigh.  I’m not sure how accurate or relevant this is, but someone is trying to sell cars costing 250k in that area.  

    2. The Tesla Model S is the best mass produced car on the road, there is a reason why it is winning so many awards. So far it has had no advertisement done for the car at all, the sales are created by word of mouth and the statistic that 1 out of 4 people who test drive them buy them.
      Motor Trend gave them the first unanimous car of the year in decades. And Consumer Reports gave them 99/100, it lost 11 points due to range and recharge time, otherwise they would have given it 110 out of 100.You can’t compare the Tesla Model S to other EVs, the other EVs are junk compliance cars. What makes it different from other cars is that they rethought the entire care from the ground up. All the other EVs they just stick a battery in there and call it a day.

      1. While I must say that the Model S looks like a f’ing sweet-ass car, Top Gear did do a review of the Tesla Roadster.  And while they’re not the same car, it’s not like Tesla has an extensive lineup of vehicles.
        People most likely learned about Tesla from the reviews of the (greatly hyped and widely popularized) Roadster, and discovered the other two models, the Model S and Model X Tesla makes.  Before you mentioned it, I didn’t even know that Tesla made cars other than the roadster.

        1. The roadster was partly made by Tesla, they mostly just took a Louts Elite and outfitted with their drive train. The Tesla Model S is the first car that has been made fully by Tesla.

          As far as how people find out about Tesla, depends. The roadster is one way, simply because it is 5 years old so people may have heard about it here and there. But right now there are a lot of news about Tesla and the Model S.

          Based on the stories I heard, most people find out about it when they see it drive by and they ask who makes it. It really does turn heads lol. According to a bloomburg interview, Musk said for every Tesla they sell to a new area, they get at least 2 other orders in that area.

          The other way people are finding out about Tesla is due to its stock. It is right now going through a short squeeze so the stock is jumping in value. Tesla already has higher valuation then Fiat.

          I mean look at it this way, Google for:

          tesla roadster review

          then for:

          tesla model s review

          There are 10x more Model S results.

          As I mentioned, some people may have heard of the roadster because it is 5 years old, but I don’t think it makes up the most of their exposure.

          1. I’ll happily concede that point. I was pretty much arguing out of incredulity and personal experience (as I’ve stated before: the worst kind of arguing).

            I think it certainly would be interesting to look at the statistical distributions of consumer awareness and information sources on the Tesla product lines.

      2. You forgot to mention the part where it’s over $70k as well.  Sure it’s a nice car, but it’s also one that a lot of middle class families simply could not afford – which probably explains the 1 in 4 issue.  It’s not like any other manufacture couldn’t produce an extended range “luxury” electric, but it’d end up at this price point as well.

        1. Yes, the Tesla Model S is 70k+, but what do you expect from the best mass produced car? They will have a Gen III car in 4-5 years that will be 30k, it is all about economies of scale.

          1. The best mass produced car….

            Tesla’s rise to fame was taking a $50k Lotus Elise stripping it down and charging people around $50k for a single speed motor, batterypack, and necessary electronics to make it all work.  There are a lot a DIY/Maker people who with $100k backing could have done something similar.

            Now the Model S is a nice car, but Tesla isn’t playing with some black voodoo magic, they are restrained by the same technological limits as every other EV maker.  Their trick is simply aiming for the luxury/first adopter crowd.

            I’ll change my mind about Tesla when I see them roll out a $30k family sedan with a 250 mile range.  Especially when GM, Nissan, Toyota, and every other manufacture could be doing the same (if it was financially feasible).

  2. Ha.

    “They won’t join our association and their cars are fucking sweet. That’s Not Fair!”

  3. This has been bouncing around reddit and slashdot for a bit but I think this bit is the best:

    Robert Glaser, president of the dealers association, told the News & Observer that the law prohibiting Tesla sales isn’t just about his industry’s self-interest. Pointing to the Tesla representatives at a recent hearing, he said, “You tell me they’re gonna support the little leagues and the YMCA?”

    1. I’m sure that the good Mr. Glaser, in his boundless community spirit, would be happy to tell us what percentage of the transaction costs he imposes on the community go to him, and what percentage go to his preferred good works?

    2. That’s gotta be nearly the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard in my life.
      It’s almost exactly the same as saying “Monsanto is coming to town? Who’s gonna support the car washes and Community College Adderall dealers?”
      It doesn’t make any sense in a fiscally conservative framework.
      If he asks such questions, then he has no right to separate himself from moral or community conservatives

      1. Bribery – in whatever country you live, whatever language you speak, whatever label you choose to assign it – is and always has been non-partisan. 
        It will be interesting to see what effect a little light under this particular rock will yield.

        1. It’s like this guy dumped a 55 gallon barrel of acetone over his head!  Could he be any more transparent?  He’s f’ing shaking in his boots at the prospect of popular luxury and sports cars that run on electricity.  It couldn’t have been more obvious if he had gotten down on all fours, rolled over, and pissed all over himself.
          Christ what an asshole and a coward.  So scared of a little competition.
          You know what a real capitalist does in this situation?  Try to make an electric car that can compete with the Teslas.  Obviously they’re filling a nice that gasoline and ethanol powered vehicles just can’t fill.  If this guy had the intelligence inherent in a retarded rhesus monkey, he’d not be bitching and moaning about Tesla, but be back in his lair trying to outdo Tesla at their own game.

  4. “North Carolina may ban Tesla sales to prevent “Competition””There, fixed that for ya

  5. According to the state of North Carolina anyone should have the freedom to buy weapons of mass destruction without question or background checks  but the right of an American citizen in North Carolina to buy a Tesla is does not exist. How’s that Free Markety thing working out, N.C.?

      1. I’m pretty sure that if Scalia could find room in the (ordinarily much loathed) Interstate Commerce Clause for Gonzales v. Raich, he would need every ounce of oleaginous mendacity available to him to avoid opening a precedent so large you could drive a compact electronic car through it.

        Given his oleaginous mendacity reserves, though, I’m sure he’d manage. 

      2.  According to Scalia corporations are people. So doesn’t N.C.’s ban on selling Teslas amount to discrimination and defying the 14th amendment?

  6. Every industry does this.  It’s why a license is required in many states to practice interior design or massage therapy.  It’s about creating barriers to entry in that market.  Tesla should just open a tiny dealership in Raleigh and erase all those lobbying dollars spent against it.

    Hard to imagine how they will enforce this law, though.  If I want a Tesla, won’t I just order it and pick it up in Virginia or South Carolina?  Would I face jail time for that?

    1. Regulations ‘protecting’ car dealerships generally also forbid direct ownership by manufacturers of dealerships(since, until pretty recently, owning a dealership would be the way that a manufacturer would probably ‘sell direct’).

      As for enforcement, it remains to be seen how toothy they are feeling; but simply refusing to license out-of-state purchased Teslas would make operating them pretty tricky.

        1. Because we can’t have commie pinkos selling their gay drug-smoking hippie electric cars over the pedophile-and-fraud-riddled interwebs. It’s a threat to freedom.

          1. Have always pegged these guys as Libertarian types. In some ways this is their own poison coming back to haunt them.

    2. When I lived in NC, I ordered a car from a dealer in NY and picked it up from the factory in SC.  It worked out fine.

        1. No need for that.  Just send it to the campaign finance secretary, make it to out to the Committee to Re-Elect Apodaca, and add a note so he can remember what he needs to do for you in exchange for this ‘contribution’.  

  7. Dealership agreement == Rebates & incentives (i.e. kickbacks funded by overcharging customers)

  8. Your cars suck, you can’t deal with the future, so you’re trying to eliminate the future?

    That’s a lot of butthurt in just a little legislation.  May cooler heads prevail. 

  9. “competition” — something Republicans are typically inclined to favor
    “competition” — something Republicans *say* they favor


      1. I long ago gave up trying to be clever with disqust. These days I’m happy if it’ll just post my comments.

        Edit: which, ironically, it took several attempts to achieve in this case :rolleyes:

  10. In other news, a Tesla subsidiary, “Tesla Tactical” introduces a line of weaponized electronic cars, intended, quote, ‘as a product that not even an inbred hickistani car dealer could get away with voting against’. While they are not expected to sell well in Tesla’s home state, the “Tesla Tactical” line is expected to make substantial inroads elsewhere.

    1. the “Tesla Tactical” line is expected to make substantial inroads elsewhere.

      Wouldn’t that be the job of Tesla’s new “Model A Electric Asphalt Laying Machine”?  Ba-dump.

      I’ll see myself out.

  11. By the way: “A car dealership trade union in North Carolina”

    That’s a fairly … unique use of the phrase “trade union”.

  12. I was a little slow in waking up today. I read the headline and thought, “Dayum, are there really so many tesla coil operators/artists/engineers in Whatever Carolina to warrant this?”  I pictured massive Tesla battles on the playa. Then thinking of NC’s most likely playa substitute, one came to me: borderless WalMart parking lots stretching to the horizon, filled with Tesla coil battle teams, arcing lightning to the deep, polyrhythmic bass of myriad art cars. 

    Certainly was a little more inspiring than my second, more grounded, vision.

    ps. This is about an effort by Rs to regulate an industry, innit? And the effort is being led by Rs who scream and shout and get elected on claims of being virulently opposed to any and all gubmint regulation of industry, yeh? 

    FREE MARKETS!! In any market I’m not invested in!! FREE MARKETS!!!

  13. If you bypass the dealer, the consumer is left without a convenient source for Teflon paint sealant, fabric and leather protectant, undercoating, window-tinting, spoilers, extended warranty, specialty floormats, VIN-etched windows, pinstripes, special edition badging, credit insurance, market value adjustments, and other vital items that can’t be removed from the dealer’s additional sticker because they are already installed on the vehicle.

    1. I’d rather call it “Government Insured Capitalism,” or “Ratcheted Capitalism” since the profits are in no way redistributed, and the government has guaranteed that the corporations cannot lose money, dipping into the common funds in order to subsidize the riskiest behaviors practiced by corporations, while neglecting those least able to afford the basics necessary to life.

  14. Did I wake up in a parallel universe where Republicans suddenly hate capitalism?

    No, wait, it’s just the regular ol’ universe where big business interests transparently bribe politicians to do their bidding. :)

  15. For a moment of fairness, regulations of the auto sales industry are intended to protect car dealerships with heavy capital investment from being crushed by their even *more* money-hungry suppliers. That’s the reasoning behind a prohibition on manufacturers acting as dealers.

    But a better law could be “If you have a dealership agreement in this state with a dealer, you can’t set up your own dealership.” Or something like that. No need to lock down future business models just to protect dealer equity.

    1. Do you live in a magic state where dealerships aren’t just parking lots with pushy salesweasels and really shitty coffee?

      1. Oh God no. But this is where the laws and the mentality are coming from. You ever notice how little competition there is among, say, Honda dealerships in the same town? Same reason: big capital investments that are threatened by lower-cost competition.

        I’m not saying that this is particularly *good* reasoning, but know thy enemy.

      2.  I’m in California – dealerships here often have pretty decent coffee.

        But when I wanted to buy a car from out of state, because there weren’t any of them available here, I ended up getting stuck with double sales tax.

    2. It would make sense to me to impose a cap on direct manufacturer sales. Say, once you hit a 5 percent saturation point in a state, you must adhere to the standards of the dealership regulations that all the big boys do.

      I mean, operating 5% of the dealerships found within the state. This allows Tesla to introduce their product, expand to a reasonably competitive level, then meld into the standards.

    3. For a moment of fairness, regulations of the auto sales industry are intended to protect car dealerships with heavy capital investment from being crushed by their even *more* money-hungry suppliers.

      In other words: buggy whips.

      We may not have flying cars, but we should at least be ordering cars online instead of haggling in a back room with some pencil-mustached guy named Floyd.

    4. I bet travel agents now wish they could’ve gotten themselves a sweet deal like that.

      The travelling public, though? Yeah, not so much.

  16. It isn’t a surprise that some auto dealers are acting this way.
    My experience in the workplace has found a propensity of
    having a country club and entitled atmosphere at ye olde auto sellers.

  17. Why not just make it that car manufacturers can not sell it cheaper then the dealer? Oh , right that would actually make sense. On the other hand, these new laws they passed are the definition of “unfair competition”

    1. Why on earth should the government protect the car dealership industry? Let the manufacturers sell directly to the public and cut the cost. Where’s the law preventing airlines from selling flights directly to passengers?

      1. Well, can an airline pick up passengers without an approved airport? So I don’t think that is a good metaphor.

        I don’t agree with the government protecting the dealerships. All I am saying is if they made it that companies can’t sell it cheaper directly then through a dealer that is one thing.(though most manufacturers even without the government don’t undercut their stores). But what they passed in NC is the definition of anti-competitive.

        1. I think he was referring to travel agents.  Travel agents used to get paid a commission for arranging flights, but that’s not as lucrative a business model in the internet age.  

          1. That is what I was referring to.  Imagine a law mandating the use of travel agencies if you want to fly.

  18. This is common in many states, and has nothing to do with Tesla being “The Future Eco Car that must be stopped”…it’s to protect brick and mortar dealers from online sales . If allowed, the makers would unfairly charge less money without vital services.
    They would not provide the traditional services like lying about inventory, stealing your keys, lowballing you on your trade-in, lying about fees and financing, loading up your car with unwanted treatments and equipment and bouncing you from carnival barker salesman to professional sociopath sales manager until you leave with an overpriced  car they needed to get rid of instead of what you wanted and could afford.

    After the sale, you’d be at the mercy of local service managers who would screw you over because you didn’t buy it from their dealership. If you had bought it from them, they’d still screw you over, but wouldn’t be able to feel justified.

  19. I have the feeling that it is legal, although the consequence would be that North Carolina loses it’s federal dollars for interstate highway and freeway construction and upkeep.

    Or is that the .08%BAC limit and 21 year old drinking age?

  20. This is just part of a bigger re-writing of our entire social construct here in NC by Tea Party backed interests.  Four years ago, we would never have conceived of our state government displaying a CONFEDERATE FLAG in a state house, let alone the massive takeover by the oil and gas/climate change denial lobby.  I warn everyone to take careful note of what is going on in North Carolina on all fronts… a lot of people like to joke that the hillbillies are just getting what they deserve, but in reality, the same right-wing billionaires who did this in my state are coming after your state next.  They will run out of states long before they run out of money.

    1. I’m afraid you’re right.
      And they won’t run out of hillbilly teabaggers to genuflect for them and carry their water any time soon, either.
      I’ve said this often, but the work that the corporatists and their lapdogs have done in the media and in politics, though sickening, is pretty amazing.
      Up is down, the moon is made of cheese, Obama is a socialist muslim, saving energy is for hippie liberals, clean air/water is the work of satan and your gay neighbors are going to ruin the institution of marriage.
      Lloyd Blankfein – Can I pick your pocket, Mr. Teabagger?
      Hillbilly – Why yes you may, I love that you’re doing God’s work.

  21. The same politicians who rail against “government intrusion in our lives” suddenly are perfectly happy to intrude into our lives if we drive electric cars or do other things that are good for the environment.  Virginia recently created a $64 a year tax if you have an electric car.  And, they want to eliminate the gas tax and replace it with a per-mile driving tax: put a GPS in your car and track everywhere you drive!  Apparently, the current pace of global warming just isn’t fast enough for them.  They want to encourage more petroleum burning and less energy-efficient transportation.

    1. As an owner of 2 electric cars, I completely understand why they have such a tax. I am no longer paying any gas tax, which is where the money comes to pay for the roads I drive on. Gas tax revenues have gone down due to improved efficiency of all cars. Since they money needs to be there to pay for the roads, I don’t mind paying my fair share. The fact I can afford the premium to get an electric car should not mean I don’t have to contribute to the roads as well.

  22. NPR’s Planet Money team did a great job on describing why the dealership system is so messed up with artificial barriers to trade:  

  23. Historically, the point of the law forbidding car companies to sell direct was to prevent a manufacturer from setting up their own showrooms to compete against showrooms of locally owned franchises for the same manufacturer. There were concerns that Ford would offer Ford-owned dealerships better deals than locally owned franchises that sold Fords. Tesla is a completely different model—there are no locally owned franchises. Consequently, they should be able to sell direct without concern they would unfairly compete with their own franchises. This is a bunch of nonsense. The consumer has enough info to buy direct if they want to. I am glad we were able to buy our Model S here in VT (nearest dealer was in NY though). It is a great car. I look forward to the day that Tesla has vehicles that are affordable for more people—that is their plan for the car to follow the Model X.

  24.  Well, we’ve never done this before. But seeing as it’s special circumstances and all, he says I can knock a hundred dollars off that Trucoat

    1. That’s what they want – their gods-given slice of the pie. The dealers have started to realize that electric cars and hybrids are a real thing.

      “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you…”. It looks like Tesla has reached the “then they fight you” stage.

  25.  Simple solution for Tesla — mount a rifle in the front grill and enjoy your constitutionally protected right to sell in NC.

  26. Unfair competition? I didn’t know there was competition for the market for 80-100k cars that can’t go 250 miles.

  27. I don’t claim any knowledge of the car sales world (I’ve never owned one) but vertical monopolies are not a made-up problem. When Marvel looked like it was getting into the comic shop business in a big way, that was bad for everybody in the comics ecosystem but Marvel–including readers. When Amazon buys up book-oriented social media sites, their competitors suffer, but so does information flow and consumer choice.

  28. They should just ban electricity for creating unfair competition with gasoline. If only they’d had the foresight to ban petroleum products maybe we’d still have a thriving whale-oil industry.

    1. Now you have me imagining sprawling cage-farms in the oceans where whales are cruelly confined and fattened for slaughter just to extract their oil.

      I wonder just how many whales we would need to farm in order to replicate the current world output via petroleum sources.

      And man can you imagine the pollution from such a fuel base. Yeah, if only they had had that foresight… 

      I get your sentiment but I just had to go the full literal route for this one.

      1. According to Volume III of “Mammals in the Seas”, mellefluously entitled General Papers and Large Cetaceans” the peak production of sperm whale oil, from 1948-1975 was just over a million barrels, in 1964.

        If we assume(probably falsely) that a barrel of crude and a barrel of hearty whale extract are interchangeable, our current consumption (a bit over 19 million barrels/day, in the US, unless it’s changed markedly of late) would apparently require a mere ~550,000 whales/day. Seems totally practical to me, if we developed an advanced system of ‘krill pumps’ with which to efficiently force feed cage bred whales to full squeezin’ weight as swiftly as possible!

        1. “~550,000 whales/day” and “Seems totally practical to me” matched with “It is estimated that the historic worldwide population numbered 1,100,000 before commercial sperm whaling began in the early 18th century.[1] By 1880 it had declined by an estimated 29 per cent.” (thanks great Wiki)
          So two days. And that’s if a barrel of Whale equals a barrel of Crude.

          (Mind that this is just Sperm Whales which were turned to after other/better sources had been more or less decimated.)

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