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What Does Tesla’s Recent Court Victory Mean for EVs?

Posted 06/24/2020

EVs are becoming more popular with drivers each year, and it seems everyone who wants an EV can now get one. However, some states still fight EV expansion however through use of older local statues and unnecessary fees. In fact, few EV customers know that in some states, buying the EV you want can be close to impossible. Is Tesla’s recent court victory in Michigan a harbinger for anti-EV legislation?

Direct Sales

There are several states where Tesla is not allowed to sell vehicles because of laws against direct-sales to the consumer, old laws designed to protect car dealers, being used in ways they were not intended. Michigan stands out among them. In response, Tesla attempted to open a dealership in the state, but the law was altered there in 2014 to prevent Tesla from receiving a license to open a dealership. The home of the Big Three Automakers (GM, Ford, and Chrysler), the state has worked particularly hard to keep Tesla on the sidelines. As demand for EVs has grown exponentially, all three automakers have had to create their own EVs in a wide variety of sizes, ranges, and prices to compete. Tesla however was still kept successfully out of the picture. According to Electrek, “some of those automakers are rumored to have been involved trying to stop Tesla to sell in Michigan.” Tesla filed a lawsuit in 2016 claiming a ban on direct-sales violates commerce laws, and that legislators were unduly influenced by automakers. The lawsuit has gone on for 4 years; however, earlier this year, Tesla reached a settlement with Michigan. While they still can’t open a dealership, Tesla can sell and service their vehicles in the state, and deliveries have already begun. Other states which have the same rules against direct-sales, such as Texas, did not have the rule stating Tesla could not service their vehicles in the state. Rules against service made obtaining and driving a Tesla a difficult task in Michigan. Today, service of Teslas by Tesla is available across the state. Tesla has sworn to deliver several hundred EVs to Michigan by the end of the year. While this story may seem to be unimportant or represent just a small victory for Tesla, it begs the question of whether the end is near for old-school rules created to enforce customer loyalty to gas-fueled cars.

Registration Fees and Environmental Roll Backs

As difficult as it is to believe, many states are still punishing drivers for choosing EVs. Higher registration fees have gone into effect in many states, such as Hawaii which is charging EV owners an extra $50, while Kansas charges $100, and both Alabama and Ohio tack on $200. The purpose? The states say the purpose is to collect some of the taxes built into the price of gasoline intended to fix damage done by cars. The fact that EVs do considerably less damage is rarely mentioned. Meanwhile, the current administration has overthrown California’s zero-emission tailpipe program. The EPA is unlikely to approve the new changes, which may make things more difficult in California. Expansion of the 205 in San Joaquin county may need to be put on hold if federal and state funding does not arrive because the EPA will not accept the new standards. How long these laws and local rules are going to hold up is put in question by Tesla’s clear victory. While new stumbling blocks for the EV industry are appearing, the days when local laws were one way to prevent mass acceptance of EVs may be coming to an end.

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