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I asked DELDOT Community Relations about this yesterday and here's what they said:
"Thank you for contacting the Delaware Department of Transportation. Tesla has applied for a retail dealer’s license to open a dealership location in Delaware. Per State of Delaware licensing statutes, the license application has been denied. Currently, Delaware code (6 Del. C. §4913), prohibits vehicle manufacturers from operating a retail dealership in Delaware. The issuance of a license by DMV to Tesla would result in Tesla not being in compliance with the laws of the State of Delaware. This statute applies to all manufacturers, regardless of the type of car they are producing.
Tesla has appealed the decision to deny it a license and a hearing is scheduled later this month to allow the company to present evidence as to why they believe the denial was improper."
I looked up the law and it looks like here is DELDOT's issue:
"§ 4913. Unlawful acts by manufacturers.
(b) It shall be a violation of this chapter for any manufacturer:
(14) To directly or indirectly own an interest in a dealer or dealership; or operate or control a dealer or dealership; or act in the capacity of a dealer except as provided by this section.
a. A manufacturer or distributor may own an interest in a franchised dealer, or otherwise control a dealership for a period not to exceed 24 months from the date the manufacturer or distributor acquires the dealership if the dealership is for sale by the manufacturer or distributor at a reasonable price and on reasonable terms and conditions.
b. A manufacturer or distributor may temporarily own an interest in a dealership if the manufacturer’s or distributor’s participation in the dealership is a bona fide relationship with a franchised dealer who:
1. Is required to make a significant investment in the dealership, subject to loss;
2. Has an ownership interest in the dealership; and
3. Operates the dealership under a plan to acquire full ownership of the dealership within a reasonable time and under reasonable terms and conditions.
(15) To engage in business as a dealer or to manage, control, operate or own any interest in a dealership either directly or indirectly, if the primary business of such dealer or dealership is to perform repair services on motor vehicles, except motor homes, pursuant to a manufacturer’s or franchiser’s warranty."
Clearly, DELDOT's interpretation is that Tesla is requesting to open their own dealership, which is currently not allowed. Personally, I think there is a distiction between a full-service store and a dealership franchise. Since Tesla has no dealership franchise, they should be permitted to sell directly to customers and operate their own local service centers.
So, looks like next step is to send a proposed revision of this law to our elected officials then. How about adding this to the end of 4913:
"(e) Notwithstanding the foregoing, nothing herein shall preclude any manufacturer from selling directly to customers and providing maintenance and repair services in absence of any dealer franchise in the state of Delaware for that manufacturer."
Thank you for sharing this information. As a Newark, Delaware resident currently saving up to buy a Tesla sometime this year, this will directly impact my family and I. I sent governor Carney a message and shared this article to anyone and everywhere I thought might be able to join this cause.
We will not be pushed around by big oil bullies any longer. It's time to push back.
This is a clear influence of gas and oil companies! How can DE claim they are encouraging EV adoption in the state when EV buying is made more difficult by having to travel to another state? Even the big car makers are converting to EV's, get on board DE and let Tesla compete for EV business on a level playing field.
Not a resident of DE, but I wholeheartedly support my friends there in their effort to allow Tesla to sell their vehicles. This is clearly not in the spirit of this rule and it's an archaic rule in today's modern times.