Despite consumers asking the White House to intervene to allow Tesla Motors to directly sell its electric cars to buyers, it appears there won't be the sought-after relief coming from the Obama administration. The White House has said that while they "love" Tesla cars, they aren't in a position to assist.
The White House feedback comes after 150,000 people signed a petition last year calling on the U.S. government to give Tesla permission to sell electric luxury vehicles directly to consumers.
"We believe in the goal of improving consumer choice for American families, including more vehicles that provide savings at the pump for consumers," Dan Utech, special assistant to the president for energy and climate change, wrote in a response to the petition last Friday. "However, we understand that pre-empting current state laws on direct-to-consumer auto sales would require an act of Congress."
The battle for direct sales is to be a state one, whereby each state has its own rules for auto dealerships and selling. In Pennsylvania, the state legislature wrote a new bill that could be signed into law allowing Tesla to have direct sales. Tesla bypasses established auto sales channels by selling directly to consumers, and gets out information about its cars via showrooms and its web site. Some 48 states ban or limit automakers from selling directly to consumers. Some states have agreed to allow Tesla to do direct sales, but the company faces lawsuits from dealership associations in other states trying to block it from direct sales.
Much of the consternation with the White House's response to the petition is that there appears to be no effort to rally Congress to pass legislation that would give Tesla more room to maneuver in its direct sales.
The petition calls explicitly for the assistance of the White House in allowing the electric automaker to get its vehicles to more individuals.
"Allow Tesla Motors to sell directly to consumers in all 50 states. States should not be allowed to prevent Tesla Motors from selling cars directly to customers. The state legislators are trying to unfairly protect automobile dealers in their states from competition. Tesla is providing competition, which is good for consumers," says the petition.
But even as the Obama administration looks for alternative energy sources and calls on citizens to look toward solar and electric power in the future as a means of ending the country's reliance on fossil fuels, it appears the White House isn't ready to ruffle any feathers and won't be battling against the auto dealerships. Tesla wasn't happy with the response, calling it disappointing and timid and said it was looking for more leadership given the environmental and economic principles at issue.