Tesla sues Michigan state officials over denial of direct sales and service

Tesla has filed suit with the Western District Court of Michigan over its ability to sell its cars directly to consumers in the state, Electrek reports, as well as its ability to service vehicles owned by state residents. The lawsuit follows the rejection of an application for a dealership license earlier this month, and lines up with Tesla’s stated goal of pursuing the right to sell its vehicles directly to customers across the U.S.

Vehicle sales in the U.S. still primarily depend on a franchise dealership model, wherein licensed third-parties handle the actual sales of cars from auto manufacturers. Tesla has been trying to upend that model, preferring to have full, direct control over the showrooms, dealerships and customer relationships throughout the sales process.

Tesla operates showrooms in many states, but isn’t allowed to sell its vehicles directly via these locations. Instead, it relies heavily on online sales, including direct delivery to customer doors. In Michigan, the car-maker has been barred from even operating a showroom or served center, which is understandably frustrating to Tesla given Michigan’s population, as well as its identity as the home of America’s automotive manufacturing prowess.

Tesla named Michigan Secretary of State, Attorney General and Governor directly in the suit as defendants, as each had a hand in passing amendments to state laws that effectively shut down any possibility of Tesla owning and operating its own stores in Michigan. Tesla is looking for a jury trial, according to the suit, and expedited proceedings, as well as a permanent induction on state officials on enforcing the section of the law it says was passed specifically to bar Tesla’s dealership application.