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Patton received at least $42,825 between 2002 and 2013

Tesla Motors is trying to sell its Model S EVs directly to customers without auto dealerships acting as middle men. And while Ohio is just one of the U.S. states giving the automaker a tough time about it, many are specifically questioning an Ohio senator's motives against the new sales model.

According to Autoblog Green, Ohio Sen. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) is the man behind a new bill called Senate Bill 260, which aims to prevent Tesla and any other automaker from "applying for a license to sell or lease new or used motor vehicles at retail."

Tesla opened its own stores in both Cincinnati and Columbus, as Ohio's current laws allow the automaker to do so. However, Senate Bill 260 would certainly put a stop to it, unless existing stores opened before the bill are deemed safe. 

It seems Patton definitely likes green, but in the way of money instead of Tesla's cars. The article noted that Patton received at least $42,825 between 2002 and 2013 from state and national auto dealership owners, employees, and political action committees. 

Auto dealerships have said that Tesla's new sales model threatens their network, which many other automakers rely on. If other automakers were to follow Tesla's example, it would put the dealerships in a bad spot. 

They're clearly hoping that staying close to politicians will keep their model safe, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk is a tough competitor that likely won't back down easily. 


Sen. Tom Patton [SOURCE: Strongsville Post]

Musk believes that auto dealerships don't do a very good job at selling specialty cars like Tesla's high-end electric vehicles (Roadster, Model S). Hence, he's looking to run his own Tesla stores around the U.S. where he believes his cars will get a fair shot at being sold. 
 
The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) said that dealerships are necessary to ensure competitive prices for customers, and that it will continue to defend franchise and consumer laws in the states.
 
The problem for Tesla is that auto dealerships have much deeper pockets -- meaning that they have a lot more to spend on lobbying, and lawmakers will surely side with them when money is involved. 
 
Tesla Model S

In fact, auto dealers spent $86.8 million on state election races across the U.S. between 2003 and 2012. They also spent $53.7 million on federal campaigns. 

Tesla, on the other hand, has spent less than $500,000 on both state and federal politics. 
 
“The challenge we face, of course, is that the auto dealers are very strong and very influential at the state level, among the legislatures, making it harder to get things done.” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk. 

While Tesla has been able to fight off auto dealership assaults in some states -- like North Carolina -- it has had a more difficult time in others, like Texas. The state has laws that protect the franchise dealership system where car manufacturers are not allowed to run and own dealerships -- and Texas isn't looking to budge on that issue.

Massachusetts and New York are a couple of other states going head-to-head with Tesla over the use of auto dealerships.

Lobbyists say Tesla needs to staff up in Washington to "protect its interests." The company has one registered lobbyist, Daniel Witt, a former aide to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Meanwhile, the National Automobile Dealers Association has an annual lobbying budget of about $3 million.

Musk said in April that he'd be willing to make the fight a federal battle

Source: Autoblog Green





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