New York Auto Dealers’ Lobby Prepping New Anti-Tesla Legislation

You can buy these in Florida.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Tesla is currently unable to sell cars in Texas, due to many American states’ fascination with protectionist legislation for car dealers. Now some legislators in New York, apparently joined by the state’s governor, want to adopt similar legislation in the Empire State. Precise practices vary from place to place, but the general spirit of the regulations is that instead of a manufacturer selling cars to consumers, they should sell cars to dealers who mark them up and then divide the profits with state legislators.

Oh, sorry, it’s about protecting consumers.

[Deborah Dorman] said the bill was designed to protect consumers because it required companies to create a storefront in the state and was not directed at Tesla because it sold electric vehicles. Some environmentalists have claimed the bill unfairly targets electric car manufacturers.

But protecting them from what? OK, actually it’s about protecting car dealers:

“Everyone is selling electric cars, it has nothing to do with that,” she said. “If you allow someone to come into the market with no overhead, that’s an unfair advantage,” she said.

It’s definitely an advantage but is it unfair?

One of the great things about the journalism industry is that thanks to the First Amendment, it’s very challenging for incumbents to try to use this kind of business strategy. Owners of print magazines can’t complain that it’s “unfair” for Slate to enter the marketplace with its low-overhead Web-first strategy.