East Hartford To Tesla: You Can’t Sit With Us

East Hartford has ruled in favor of local auto dealerships and pulled a move that feels petty and straight out of Mean Girls. In August 2021, I reported on some good news for Tesla owners in Connecticut. That good news is no longer good, though, thanks to the moves of Hoffman Auto, a local dealer group that doesn’t want Tesla in its city.

The initial news was that the East Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC) had voted unanimously to approve Tesla’s application to build a service center. It would strictly be a service center, not a sales center, thanks to the insane laws that forbid Connecticut’s residents from buying a Tesla inside the state. You can thank the dealers for that one.

Before the vote, Hoffman Auto Group of East Hartford sued Tesla and the development company InSite in hope of even preventing Tesla from opening its service center. The dealership claimed that Tesla “seeks to open up a business in East Hartford, Connecticut in close proximity to the plaintiff’s dealerships for the sale of new automobiles and pre-owned vehicles and service, in violation of Connecticut law.”

In addition to suing Tesla and InSite, Hoffman Auto also sued the town of East Hartford, claiming that the town’s initial support for Tesla serving its customers violated the state laws. Sounds like these outdated laws need to be changed.

Now, Hartford Business Journal has reported that East Hartford has even revoked the permit for the planned Tesla service center! Hoffman Auto Group was extremely happy about blocking Tesla’s ability to serve its customers and gave the following statement:

“We applaud East Hartford’s decision to revoke the town’s previously issued approval thereby preventing Tesla from pursuing the 300 Connecticut Boulevard location in defiance of Connecticut law and local zoning restrictions.

“It supports our position that the approval was wrongfully obtained, and that Connecticut law does not allow manufacturers to sell cars directly in Connecticut. The Hoffman family of 10 auto dealerships along with more than 250 other dealers statewide remain committed to defending this state’s pro-consumer franchise system which fosters healthy competition on a level playing field and will continue to resist global manufacturers from illegally entering our state in a way that would deprive local consumers of many of the protections they currently enjoy.”

The dealership group also accused Tesla of hiding its true intent of selling cars to customers.

I spoke with the Tesla Owners Club of Connecticut and they gave me the following statement:

“Unfortunately, Hoffman and their cronies are forcing the people of Connecticut to travel farther to service their cars. We’re regular people. When we share our stories Hoffman looses more and more customers. However, I’m optimism that good will outweigh evil soon.”

East Hartford Isn’t Alone With Its Dealer Issue

Although East Hartford pretty much had its hands tied (let’s be honest here), it’s certainly not the only town or city that has this issue. And the issue is the refusal to allow progress. Tesla, Rivian, Lucid, and other manufacturers that want to sell directly to consumers are all posing a threat to the outdated dealership industry.

Auto dealers know this and they fear for their lives. Well, their very existence — not individual human lives. They realize that they can’t continue to screw over customers anymore if there’s competition. And the idea of ​​a manufacturer such as Tesla doing service repairs for its customers is terrifying for them. And they let their lust for greed and power mixed with fear of losing customers financially harm their communities. Tesla owners have to go out of town or state to get their cars serviced.

Imagine having to go out of state just to get your iPhone screen repaired because your state banned cell phone repair shops out of fear the repair worker might talk you into upgrading your phone.


 

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