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Tesla's Fight With Car Dealers Could Help Decide the Next Presidential Election 282

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the single-issue-electorate dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Marcus Wohlsen writes that the most recent ban against Tesla selling cars directly from the company instead of through third-party dealers was enacted in New Jersey with the support of Gov. Chris Christie, a possible contender for the GOP nomination. That prompted Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Christie rival, to heartily defend Tesla's direct sales model. 'Customers should be allowed to buy products that fit their need,' says Rubio, 'especially a product that we know is safe and has consumer confidence beneath it.' Perhaps even more surprising is the love shown by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the once and possibly future presidential hopeful whose oil-rich state bars employees in Tesla's two showrooms from even telling potential customers how much the Model S costs. 'I think it's time for Texans to have an open conversation about this,' says Perry, 'the pros and the cons. I'm gonna think the pros of allowing this to happen outweigh the cons.' The sudden GOP embrace of an electric car company once reviled as a symbol of Northern California enivro-weenies might seem ironic says Wohlsen, but the real irony is that conservative politicians ever opposed Tesla at all.

'The widespread franchise rules giving car dealers virtual monopolies in their territories epitomize the government-controlled marketplace Republicans purportedly despise,' writes Wohlsen adding that possible presidential contenders realize there may be political capital to be gained in supporting Tesla. But the real winner is Tesla. If the company can manage to associate its brand with all the positive qualities Rubio and Perry hope rub off on them, few politicians will want to take the risk to stand against them. Mitt Romney called Tesla Motors a 'loser' company during his 2012 run for president. In 2016 running against Tesla might seem about as smart as running against Apple."
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Tesla's Fight With Car Dealers Could Help Decide the Next Presidential Election

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @04:08PM (#46587151)

    And then he called them "consumers."

    Protip: That's the derogatory term economists use for the general public when they're feeling especially sociopathic.

  • Doubt it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @04:14PM (#46587193)

    The governors will talk about how good Tesla is but their day job is still governor and that office is under the thumb of the National Automotive Dealers Association who could easily contribute to their rivals.

    The state laws that prevent direct sales of automobiles should be criminal because it preserves the insane concept of "negotiating" the best price. Hopefully Tesla will go farther than cars.com did.

    A layperson would think that the state laws would go against the US Constitutions commerce clause.

  • Re:To be fair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lgw (121541) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @04:21PM (#46587263) Journal

    the company and their models have changed since 2012.

    Tesla is in an odd place in conservative conversations, because it hasn't sunk in yet that this is the first electric car that's not a joke played on hippies. The Model S really did change the landscape (and, hey, we wouldn't be conservatives if we embraced change quickly). Now people on the right are starting to realize that this could be the new American Car Company to rally behind, now that "Government Motors" is on the lifetime-ban list of many on the right after the bailouts.

    Speaking of changing landscapes, people need to shed the silly notion that "oil companies" oppose electric cars. There are no large "oil companies" any more, they're all "energy companies" now, and they're just as happy to sell natural gas to electric companies as they are to sell oil at the pump.

  • There is no irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damicatz (711271) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @04:22PM (#46587273)

    To anyone who actually understands how the Republican party operates, there is no irony because they are little more than two-faced hypocrites. They preach limited government but then try to regulate the bedroom, who can get abortions, who can get married and birth control. They preach freedom but use eminent domain to steal people's property (the Keystone Pipeline they are so fond of is built on stolen land) and funnel trillions of dollars into the military industrial complex so that more people can be bombed. They preach lower taxes but then raise taxes on everyone except the super-rich.

    They (along with the Democrat party, which is the same shit but different rhetoric) are little more than corporate prostitutes who are available to the highest bidder. The stealerships in this case have more money combined than Tesla. So no, there is no irony because I expected nothing less from the Republican party than cronyist statism.

  • Marketing spin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjbe (173966) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @04:34PM (#46587397)

    There are no large "oil companies" any more, they're all "energy companies" now

    Exxon-Mobil is not an energy company in the general sense nor are most of their competitors. They make their money in oil and gas. They may call themselves an energy company but you are what you do and what they do is fossil fuels. Calling themselves an energy company is just marketing spin.

  • well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hamburger lady (218108) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @04:38PM (#46587441)

    'The widespread franchise rules giving car dealers virtual monopolies in their territories epitomize the government-controlled marketplace Republicans purportedly despise,' writes Wohlsen

    yes, but they also epitomize the lobbyist-controlled cash funnel republicans love. money is by far more important than having actual values.

  • by hamburger lady (218108) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @04:39PM (#46587451)

    what's the "democrat party"?

  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @04:43PM (#46587481) Homepage Journal
    In case anybody is curious, the next Presidential election is over two years away, none of the horse race talk means a goddamn thing right now. This is just talking heads needing to fill airtime with inane babble because covering the events in Crimea would be too depressing.
  • Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @04:44PM (#46587487)

    but the real irony is that conservative politicians ever opposed Tesla at all.

    Republicans are more interested in established businesses and their business models. Tesla is trying to break the dealership business model and big GOP contributors do not like that.

  • Re:Doubt it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macpacheco (1764378) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @04:49PM (#46587519)

    This whole "negotiating best price" argument is a farce and you know it.
    The reason you don't get to negotiate prices when buying a Tesla is there's a 6 week production backlog. They are not desperate to sell you the car, they have thousands of customers in line.
          It's an awesome car.
    Perhaps if Detroit stopped innovating at a snails pace and started actually put brilliant, radically innovative designers to design cars, without lawyers and the overall poisonous corporate culture stepping on their toes all the time, perhaps they could make a car that will truly compete with Tesla. Until then, Tesla rules !
    For decades, Detroit has innovated at a snails pace, catering to the most conservative customers the US has.
    My message to car dealers is R.I.P. You are just dying an ultra slow, agonizing death, cause you don't care one bit about your customers.

  • Re:Doubt it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AaronW (33736) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @04:59PM (#46587621) Homepage

    I think part of it is that Tesla is run by Elon Musk who thinks like a consumer. He decided not to do the whole dealership thing from his own experience with dealerships. When dealerships claim to offer consumers "protection" Elon hits back perfectly comparing their protection to the kind you get from organized crime. Dealership "protection" didn't really help most Fisker buyers when Fisker went under. The Karma owners must pay out of pocket for things that their warranty and pre-paid maintenance should have covered.

  • Odd logic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjbe (173966) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @05:18PM (#46587815)

    Too many of the general public confuse 'conservatives' with 'Republicans.'

    In most cases it is a distinction without a difference. Most conservatives self identify as republicans and vice-versa. There are some outliers but they are the exception that proves the rule.

    We of the dark side have been generally suspicious of electric cars because of the perception that most purchases are made with cushy tax subsidies, rather than inherent merit, in mind.

    Great logic, because obviously gasoline vehicles never get tax money [wikipedia.org]. Gas companies get TONS of tax subsidies and they are strongly supported by the political right. Lots of industries receive tax subsidies including agriculture, oil, gas, ethanol, coal, steel, aviation, construction, manufacturing, and many more. I find great irony when I hear some rural conservative farmer bitching about subsidies for solar power when he's getting subsidies for the crops he is selling. I guess subsidies are only good when it is for something that benefits you.

    There is also a cultural bias factor ("University hippies buy these, so they must be bad...") which works both ways.

    Are you really trying to justify hatred by saying "other people do it too"?

    I had to explain to her that hating environmental activists doesn't have to mean hating the environment itself.

    Why would you hate an environmental activist? Or any other kind of activist for that matter? Arguing passionately for a good cause is no reason to hate someone. Sure there are a few real looney-toons out there but most are basically just trying to push for a healthy planet and a nice place to live.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @05:34PM (#46587989)

    No. Your chain-of-commerce should have ended at "customer". Any further actions do not qualify as commerce.

    "Customers" are people who pay you to do your job well. They buy your products and services, and if you don't provide what they need, they will drop your ass and find someone who does. These are "informed buyers" who will do pesky things like "demand warranty service" and "enforce contract terms".

    "Consumers" are people that marking folks envision buying your product because they want it and will buy it without questioning whether they need it or not. These are "mindless automatons" who will "take what they're given" and "stand in line for days in the freezing cold to get the next minor upgrade of your product".

    (If you want a good laugh, envision Chris Farley doing the air-quotes-guy skit in those last two paragraphs.)

  • Re:To be fair (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @05:36PM (#46588019)

    Too many of the general public confuse 'conservatives' with 'Republicans.'

    There is no confusion going on there. See, for example, this:

    We of the dark side have been generally suspicious of electric cars because of the perception that most purchases are made with cushy tax subsidies, rather than inherent merit, in mind.

    This idea is straight out of boilerplate Republican rhetoric, and it reflects an ideological blinder central to conservative Republican politics. You never, ever allow yourselves to contemplate the merest iota of a chance that the Holy Free Market might not be 100% perfect at governing the future of society. No sir, there is no chance at all that in the real world, absent government intervention, superior solutions may rot on the sideline because the market often lacks a mechanism for pushing itself out of local minima. And there is also no chance at all that unregulated markets will fill with rent-seekers who do their best to put higher walls around the local minimum they're occupying. None at all!

    Keep your ears firmly plugged, little conservative lapdogs. You must not let disapproved doubleplus ungood facts in. Continue repeating Republican mantras as necessary whenever reality intrudes.

    There is also a cultural bias factor ("University hippies buy these, so they must be bad...") which works both ways. I recently had a relative profess shock that, despite my politics, I recycle. I had to explain to her that hating environmental activists doesn't have to mean hating the environment itself.

    It is telling that you take it as a given that environmental activists must be hated.

    We feel batter about Tesla than about the Leaf and its ilk because it's the first electric vehicle that is being successfully marketed to people who take economics seriously

    It is equally telling that you think anyone on the left, by definition, does not take economics seriously.

    Hint: it's you. You're the guys who don't take economics seriously. You refuse to pay any attention at all to serious attempts to analyze economics (by which I mean ones which attempt for academic rigor). You constantly shout down attempts to do so. You rely instead on a toxic mix of tribal rhetoric and slavish devotion to disproven absolutist ideas about the infinite superiority of the unregulated invisible hand. (Betraying, by the way, that you haven't even seriously read the works of the man who invented the term "invisible hand". Adam Smith would be quite leftist by modern U.S. political standards, as he was a firm believer in making markets more free by regulating them. You see, he recognized that players in a market, particularly on the "supply side", will attempt to make it less free to protect their own interests.)

    In short: fuck off, conservative. Your "ohhhhh, the Republicans are nae true Scotsmen" spin and your attempts to put yourself on the good side of a few issues while still clinging to the bad side are transparently dishonest.

  • Re:Winning streaks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @05:39PM (#46588047) Homepage

    > And the democrats only won it once between 1968 and 1992. What's your point?

    It's not 1955 anymore, or even 1985. The same old rhetoric won't work because most of your base is dying of old age.

    You can't even depend on the "white middle aged male" demographic anymore. Society has changed along with the demographics. You can't depend on crackers to get you elected.

    Antagonizing EVERYONE else certainly is not a winning strategy.

  • Re:To be fair (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rsborg (111459) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @06:47PM (#46588577) Homepage

    You are going to need a LOT of solar panels to do this and also note most people are home at NIGHT when this is not going to work out so well ;)

    Note: using solar to power your car is through offsetting your daily electricity use and powering at night - you don't actually have to use the *specific electrons collected by photonics deposits on your solar panel* to power the electric car.

    The end result is the same - car gets juice (usually the cheaper variety if you're hooked up with a smart meter) and you pay less.

    Hell, Musk even has a company that helps homeowners do just that - SolarCity - without all the overhead of buying the panels and installing them yourself.

It is much easier to suggest solutions when you know nothing about the problem.

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