Bill would allow expansion of Tesla dealerships in NY

Legislative Gazette photo by David Tregaskis

With New York state aiming to have 50 percent of electricity generated by renewable sources by 2030, lawmakers are looking to further cement New York’s place as a leader in sustainability by taking environmental conservation on the road.

Sen. George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, and Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequiot, are sponsoring a bill (S.6600-a/A.8248-a) that would allow manufacturers to operate 20 zero-emissions vehicle dealerships in New York State, including five in Upstate New York.

According to the bill memo, the goal is to provide access to consumers and also make New York a leader in the innovation of sustainable technology.

The bill would allow for the issuance of certification of registration to companies that exclusively manufacture zero-emissions vehicles, permitting companies to establish up to 20 dealerships for zero-emissions vehicles.

Tesla is currently the only manufacturer to exclusively produce zero-emissions vehicles. The company has five dealerships in the New York City area and is looking to expand.

State law requires automakers to sell vehicles to customers through franchise dealers. Since Tesla is not a franchise, it sells directly to customers through its own stores, preventing the company from opening more dealerships.

These restrictions have forced Tesla to close their dealership in Chelsea because they favored having one in another location. Morelle says that the five-dealership limit is counterproductive.

If passed, the bill would allow Tesla to establish 15 more locations in New York state and require manufacturers to offer consumers repair services for any zero-emissions vehicles sold by them. At least five of the locations would need to be located throughout regions of the state established by the bill, comprised largely of upstate counties.

Tesla will be releasing a $35,000 car aimed at a wider market than it’s current models, which start at $74,500. Cheaper offerings combined with more locations will make zero-emissions vehicles more accessible for New Yorkers.

“In order to get people comfortable and familiar with electric vehicles, we need to give them access to them,” said Conor Bambrick, air and energy director for the Environmental Advocates of New York.

According to Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, D-Albany, a co-sponsor of the bill, New York is number 11 in electric vehicle sales in the country.

“We are way behind where we should be in New York. We have the ability to do so much more here,”  said Assemblywoman and co-sponsor Jo Anne Simon, D-Brooklyn. “The world is changing and we need to change with it.”