here is some good news for Tesla owners in Connecticut, a state that has heavily favored dealer whims over Tesla and other EV makers. The East Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC) voted unanimously to approve Tesla’s application to build a service center, the log requester reports. However, customers who wish to buy a Tesla or parts for their Tesla have yet to go out of state. So that’s progress – small progress, but still worth celebrating.
In April, the PZC voted to revoke a permit that had been approved, then approved a new permit to build on the same lot. The main difference was the added emphasis on Tesla’s promise not to sell any new or used vehicles (in the new permit). The old permit called the project an “electric car showroom and service center.” The wording of the new license indicates that it is now an “automotive service center” (“showroom” disappeared). A lawyer representing Tesla, Thomas Rechen, told the log requester that the facility described in the new permit application would not sell vehicles, parts or any other product under any circumstances. It would only serve vehicles.
“I won’t go with any brake parts in my hand,” Rechon said. The new permit specifies that uses of the facility include vehicle servicing, delivery and indoor storage of new and used automobiles, energy products and offerings, and related parts and accessories. . Michael Bula, Chief Financial Officer of Manchester-based Marcus Communications, spoke at the public hearing. He explained that he and several of his employees are Tesla owners who would like to have their vehicles serviced nearby.
He added that he was shocked that none of the local auto dealers who vehemently opposed Tesla’s move to Connecticut participated in the public hearing. It is indeed shocking when we think back to their aggressive lobbying of the legislature and the lawsuit filed by a dealer who opposed Tesla entering the state. In that lawsuit, Hoffman Auto Groups argued that proper procedures were not followed when the PZC approved InSite’s special use permit application for Tesla. You can read more details about it here.
Of dealers, Bula said, “You know you’re fighting a losing battle when you use legislation to block them.” Bula added that Tesla wasn’t the only electric vehicle maker wanting to sell in Connecticut — Lucid Motors and Rivian were eyeing the state. In fact, we asked James Chen, vice president of public policy at Rivian and formerly in a similar position at Tesla, about it earlier this year. Listen to the interview here:
Jeffery Cormier, an East Hartford city planner, also pointed out that the new application indicated the facility would be a service center instead of a showroom. He mentioned that Tesla had operated a similar facility in Milford for years. “I’ve never heard of that one, so if they’re going to do the same thing here, it looks like the state is allowing them to rent there and they’re allowing them to service vehicles, so it’s a good redevelopment of the site,” said Cormier.
Will Cross, Tesla owner and member of the Tesla Owners Club of Connecticut, told the log requester that he would like to see more people driving electric vehicles in his state. However, the difficulty of buying from certain manufacturers and the lack of repair centers deter consumers. He lives in Union and the closest place he can buy a Tesla is in Mount Kisco, NY. It’s two o’clock. The nearest Tesla Service Center is Milford, Boston or Warwick, RI (about 1.5 hours each).
“Just the convenience of East Hartford…you could attract more people with electric vehicles,” he said. He also added that the Milford service center has always been backed up by appointment. Wait times of more than two weeks are sometimes announced.
President Biden recently announced at a UAW-sponsored event that the goal is for 50% of all vehicles sold in 2030 to be plug-in vehicles by 2030. I’m going to sound like a broken record here , but by banning companies like Tesla, Lucid, and Rivian from selling EVs to their customers, several states are not helping us meet those EV goals.
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