Tesla circumvents state laws prohibiting direct sales by opening showrooms on tribal lands
Tesla is expanding its efforts to establish showrooms on tribal lands, where it can sell its electric vehicles directly to consumers without facing legal restrictions imposed by states that prohibit vehicle manufacturers from acting as retailers.
Recently, the Mohegan Sun, a Connecticut-based casino and entertainment complex owned by the federally recognized Mohegan Tribe, revealed that it will soon open a Tesla showroom with a sales and delivery centre on its sovereign property, where state laws do not apply.
Earlier this year, Tesla also announced plans to open another showroom on the lands of the Oneida Indian Nation in upstate New York, set to launch in 2025.
For years, the Connecticut Automotive Retail Association has been against bills like this. They believe that it's important to respect tribal sovereignty, while also ensuring that all car dealerships in the state have an equal chance to succeed.
Tesla has been trying to obtain dealership licenses, changing laws, and challenging decisions in court across several states. Despite their efforts, they have been denied licenses in the past. However, Tesla had a recent success when the Delaware Supreme Court overturned a previous decision that prevented the company from selling their cars directly to customers.
According to Jeff Aiosa, executive director of the Connecticut dealers association, around 16 states have modified their laws to permit direct-to-consumer manufacturers like Tesla to sell in their regions. However, he mentioned that Connecticut is unlikely to make any changes to its law, as 32 significant car companies, including Toyota and Ford, are currently following it.
In 2021, Tesla established its inaugural store and repair shop on Nambe Pueblo, situated north of Santa Fe, on Native American land in New Mexico. This groundbreaking move marked the first time the company collaborated with a tribe to circumvent state regulations, a plan that had been in development for some time. Brian Dear, the president of the Tesla Owners Club of New Mexico, anticipated that other states with tribal nations and similar laws prohibiting direct vehicle sales by manufacturers would likely emulate New Mexico's initiative.
There will be a Tesla Sales & Delivery Center located at the Mohegan Sun facility. This center will be situated at a shopping and dining pavilion within the casino complex. Customers can take Tesla models for a test drive around the resort. Moreover, gamblers can use their loyalty rewards to purchase Tesla products. Tesla will also showcase their solar and storage products at this location.