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FTC Approves Tesla's Direct Sales Model 328

cartechboy (2660665) writes "We've all read about Tesla and the ongoing battles its having with different dealer associations. Basically, dealer associations aren't too pleased about the Silicon Valley startup's direct sales model. Today the FTC has had made a statement on the matter and it's actually in favor of Tesla's direct sales model. 'In this case and others, many state and local regulators have eliminated the direct purchasing option for consumers, by taking steps to protect existing middlemen from new competition. We believe this is bad policy for a number of reasons,' wrote Andy Gavil, Debbie Feinstein, and Marty Gaynor in the FTC's 'Who decides how consumers should shop?' posting to the Competition Matters blog. The FTC appears to take issue not with those laws, but with how they're being used, and with the direct-sales bans being passed in several states. Now the only real question is how long will it be before Tesla prevails in all states?"
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FTC Approves Tesla's Direct Sales Model

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  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @05:08AM (#46839227)

    From an amateur understanding, interstate commerce as originally meant in the constitution meant that states couldn't stop traffic, i.e. Virginia couldn't stop commerce traffic intended for Maryland from North Carolina by instituting a tax or some such aimed soley at these merchants. Exactly how it sound, interstate commerce, between states.

    Now, interstate commerce has been twisted in past decades to mean some really weird shit, which is how the feds control drugs that can be grown in one state and will never necessarily leave it....

    But I don't see how a state saying how things must be sold in itself is interfering in interstate commerce. That's solely intrastate commerce. It's not a law targeted at soley out of state manufacturers by design (even if that ends up being the case) and it applicable to all makers.

    Let be clear that I don't support the law, but this reading of the constition is strange and what allows the Feds to overstep all bounds.

  • by ElBeano ( 570883 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @05:17AM (#46839239)
    Where are Teslas made? How is prohibiting direct sales NOT interfering in interstate commerce in states where they are attempting sales?
  • by davidhoude ( 1868300 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @05:39AM (#46839295)

    this is a product designed for the 0.0001%.

    Come on now...

    Society worldwide is changing towards renewable energy. While Tesla's cars might not be perfect right now, they are a step in the right direction. It is so hard to go up against an established industry, especially when they have such large lobbying budgets. I hope you can understand that this isn't just about Tesla, it's about new businesses being able to compete.

    And for the 0.0001% give me a break. These cars may be expensive and considered a luxury item, but it doesn't mean they cannot be afforded by middle to upper middle class. Also, new technology is expensive, that's how it works. If they don't sell any new cars due to archaic laws, how do you expect the price to drop?

    This topic is very interesting to watch unfold, and I think many slashdotters would agree with me.

  • Re:Thank God (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Blymie ( 231220 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @05:40AM (#46839299)

    But they are developing their electric own cars. All car manufacturers are.

    The lobbying is a tool they are using, the laws, to hold back Telsa until they have a suitably competitive product to sell.

    Once that happens, it won't matter is a Telsa can sell direct ... the big boys can crush them with advertising and normal market pressure.

  • Re:or (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bhagwad ( 1426855 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @06:03AM (#46839359) Homepage

    I'm not sure why this "pressure" that car manufacturers put on dealers is a bad thing. They manufacture the product, and if they have the leverage to dictate how it will be sold, good for them. I'm not sure what compelling state interest is served by artificially restricting the way manufacturers can sell their cars.

  • Re:or (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bhagwad ( 1426855 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @07:05AM (#46839531) Homepage

    I don't think anyone has a god given right to be a dealer and sell someone else's cars. Sure, it sucks to be a dealer who has no choice but to agree to a car manufacturer's conditions...but so what? Life is tough...

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @07:26AM (#46839611) Journal
    Please do not conflate these two issues. On one hand consumers, or a section of consumers are change averse. On the other hand established interests are lobbying to preserve their stranglehold on the market by putting road blocks to competition. These two are not the same.

    If there was a group that benefitted financially by the presence of start button, and it lobbied state governments to prevent Microsoft from taking it away then you would have the comparison right and you realize how ridiculous it is.

  • Re:Thank God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rezme ( 1677208 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @07:26AM (#46839613)
    I'd disagree with the comparison to Windows 8. If you must use the start button debate as a point of reference, a more apt analogy would be if Tesla were to change the pedal style accelerator (the standard interface to "go" in a car ever since cars started being built) with a trigger mounted to the steering wheel. Changing the guts under the hood in Windows wouldn't be a complaint for most people (barring major issues in how the OS performed as a result) but changing the interface that has been the standard for 20 years on a desktop computer is idiocy. It's not change for improvement's sake (as with Tesla's advancing powerplant technology) but rather change for the sake of change alone, without any appreciable improvement in efficiency in the operation of the product. Metro works fine for touch based devices, but not all desktop/laptops are touch, and to be frank touch interfaces are far less efficient than a mouse in a desktop environment. Who wants to sit at their desk with their hands on the keyboard and, when needing to interact with the GUI, have to reach up and touch the monitor rather than moving their hand over a few inches to move the mouse.
  • by Talderas ( 1212466 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @07:30AM (#46839625)

    The Fed isn't required to do anything. They're only given permission to do so.

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Friday April 25, 2014 @07:56AM (#46839725) Homepage Journal

    The reasons all these states have this law related to cars is because they are big purchase items and based on past problems they are requiring that the purchaser has some in state method of getting the product fix or for resolving problems.

    That is a typically stupid thing to say on slashdot. The reason that all these states have these laws is massive lobbying. If the goal were to protect the consumer, then all of these states would mandate that repair information down to every last OBD-II code or similar (all the info needed to reprogram and/or recode all the modules) would be available to the purchaser of the vehicle, and that they could freely redistribute it to anyone who was working on the vehicle. That's not the laws we have. Instead, we have protectionist laws which actually screw the customer, by preventing competition. The laws are actually for the opposite purpose that you think; they're there to make it harder to service your vehicle, so that its value depreciates more rapidly, and you are forced to buy another one before it can no longer be repaired because it can no longer practically be repaired.

    Why is there so much about tesla anyways this is a product designed for the 0.0001%.

    You must be new here.

  • by kenh ( 9056 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @08:47AM (#46839989) Homepage Journal

    "this is a product designed for the 0.0001%"

    That's a pretty small market segment, 0.0001% of 330 million US citizens comes out to a few thousand Teslas.

    BTW, the Tesla 'S' lists for just under $60K/year, it isn't that much more than a well-equipped Chevy Suburban or imported SUV (Mercedes, BMW, Land Rover). Based on combined sales volumes, that may put it squarely in the 10%er's price range...

  • What this means (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @10:18AM (#46840633)
    What this means is that the FTC does not like these laws, but it does not have any authority to intervene because Congress has not actually passed any laws regulating this sort of thing. Congress did not delegate its constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce (and I would argue that it cannot without amending the Constitution). Congress delegated the authority to enforce the laws it has passed regulating interstate commerce to the FTC. If Congress has not passed a law on this, the FTC has no authority to regulate it. If Congress has passed such a law, the FTC would already be regulating it.
  • by Tokolosh ( 1256448 ) on Friday April 25, 2014 @12:55PM (#46842193)

    No state prevents you from buying a Tesla from out of state, because that is the prerogative of the federal government, as you say.

    However, a state CAN regulate commerce within its borders, as they do with car dealerships.

    However, it is my contention that laws and regulations should be enacted and enforced from the bottom up - neighborhood, city, county, state, federal level. BUT, rights and freedoms, which are inherent, should be protected by everyone, top-down if needed. This means that the federal government is entitled to step in if a local school board decides to exclude black student.

    So I assert the human right to conduct business/speech with whoever I want, wherever I want, wherever I want - and that includes directly with Tesla in a different state.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.