Tesla wants to evangelize EVs, replace all gasoline-powered cars
At the FTC panel this week, Tesla\'s lawyer argued for direct-to-customer sales.
Tesla has made an impassioned revelation as to why it should be allowed to continue direct-to-customer sales at Federal Trade Commission panels held this week.
Amidst the back and forth between GM and Tesla — in which the Detroit auto giant argued for enforcement of the status quo, while upstart Tesla made a plea for bypassing the dealer system, a case it has fought on a state-by-state basis before — the electric automaker's lawyer Todd Maron made a strong case for his company's side. Autoblog's Sebastian Blanco has parsed out the key details:
Any discussion of why Tesla sells directly comes back to our mission. Our mission is quite specific. It is to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable transportation. You can say we're true believers and it wouldn't be an unfair characterization. That's our mission because we fervently believe that transitioning to electric vehicles is critical to the health of our planet and simply because we believe that electric vehicles are superior vehicles to their gas-powered counterparts. They're higher-performing, they're more efficient and they're safer than gas-powered cars.
Other Maron arguments from the panel:
Traditional dealers focus on price, not educating buyers about new technology. In order for Tesla to make sales, it is crucial for the company itself to "evangelize" their cars.
Tesla cannot expect a dealer, which might own franchises selling gasoline-powered brands, to be as passionate when proselytizing about electric cars.
To introduce people to a new brand and new technology, Tesla needs to have small "stores" in malls and similar types of shopping centers, located in high-traffic areas
Since Teslas are built to order, what the company does not need are big lots to inventory hundreds of new cars, which are typically located in suburban or remote areas zoned for dealerships.
Tesla doesn't even really need a dealership, since the electric cars have far fewer moving parts and thus fewer opportunities for maintenance. Traditional dealerships make a good chunk of their profits by servicing and repairing cars that they've sold. In contrast, Tesla makes their money when the car itself is sold. A Tesla will never need an oil change, for example.
Maron continued to imply that Tesla and traditional dealers have a conflict of interest, because the latter are invested in selling gasoline-powered cars. While that may be true for some, many of those brands are also getting in on electric cars. According to Teslarati, FTC chair Edith Ramirez said at the hearing "The automobile marketplace may be on the precipice of dramatic change.” Could that indicate Tesla's arguments are turning the tide?