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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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  • As a Gary Johnson fan, I'm curious what his stance on the whole deal with Tesla is. This is relevant since I may want to vote for him next election, and the implications of his opinions on this matter are going to reflect across his Presidential policies and how he encourages Congress and the American People to act.

    • Unfortunately, the third party candidates never get any national coverage, so get very few votes. They need to do something majorly news-worthy if they want to be noticed in 2016.

      See my sig for what I consider to be the most effective move they could make.

      • the third party candidates never get any national coverage, so get very few votes.

        When third party candidates do get coverage, their support tends to go down. The reasons for this are complex. They often focus on ideology rather than practical solutions, and have difficulty compressing their message into simplistic soundbites that can be understood by the general public.

      • by turp182 (1020263)

        Doing something newsworthy won't change much. The two-party system is ingrained. Both parties suck (Congress has an approval rating of 13%, up from 9% earlier in 2013: http://www.gallup.com/poll/166... [gallup.com]).

        Both parties are willing to change their rules to prevent uprisings in their organizations. And the two parties control media exposure, specifically debates, the last independent/3rd party candidate that was invited to a Presidential Debate was Ross Perot. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U... [wikipedia.org]

        The two parties

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          So ignore the political parties in the mass media channel that is the US government, focus on the corporations actually running the show. In this case the oil companies and the valuation of the future value of their existing reserves, not just the profits they are generating now, but they value of the oil they are sitting on and yet to pump out and sell over the decades, this value is calculated into their share price and that is the real reason why the obstruction of clean air policies. Now on the flip si

  • by alen (225700) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @04:09PM (#46587161)

    not after the bridgegate fiasco
    then add withholding funds from hoboken because they didn't let a developer run rampant
    hiring friends and family for a state marketing campaign

    • by Megane (129182)
      Don't forget all his palling up to Obama after Sandy... which ended up not helping New Jersey at all. The feds still took their own damn time to clean things up. So he gets an image problem and nothing to show for it!
  • 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: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.

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          Every time I go to buy a new car and have to deal with dealerships, I just wish that I could order what I want from the factory (or Amazon) and just pay MSRP.

          Seriously. Dealers have gotten so bad that paying sticker price for exactly what you want is a better deal and less hassle sometimes.

    • The state laws that prevent direct sales of automobiles should be criminal because it preserves the insane concept of "negotiating" the best price.

      What is insane about negotiating a price? Just because a price is posted doesn't mean it cannot be discounted or that at the least you cannot ask for one. The posted price is simply the ceiling for the negotiation.

      • I think that "negotiation" was in quotes there because it isn't really negotiating. If you can negotiate a price lower than the sticker, it is because the dealer had no intention of charging you that price unless you were stupid enough to not ask for a lower price. The sticker price bears little relationship to the actual value of a vehicle.

      • Noticed how negotiating was in quotes?

        Negotiation shouldn't involve you hanging around the dealership for a minimum of 2 hours while the sales staff perform a dog and pony show to make you believe that you are getting a great discount off of a very inflated sticker price (value added services (undercoating) or accessories (a different color pin stripe)). After which you spend another 2 hours before you actually purchase the damn car and leave.

        They make it too time consuming and require travel to find a co

        • by Copid (137416)
          I've purchased a couple of cars through CarsDirect.com to avoid that hassle and been pretty happy with the results. An aggressive negotiator might be able to do better, but realistically, I see the online model as the eventual endgame here. More and more people are buying through intermediaries that provide a fixed price, so eventuallly the only people who go into dealers and haggle are going to be the real sharks who are willing to go 6 hours without a bathroom break to get a rock bottom price. Once the
        • Noticed how negotiating was in quotes?

          Negotiation shouldn't involve you hanging around the dealership for a minimum of 2 hours while the sales staff perform a dog and pony show to make you believe that you are getting a great discount off of a very inflated sticker price (value added services (undercoating) or accessories (a different color pin stripe)). After which you spend another 2 hours before you actually purchase the damn car and leave.

          While I agree with you that negotiating a car can be a pain (unless you are an obstinate SOB that enjoys the back and forth) but you have one key weapon - getting up and starting to walk out. They know if you leave you won't be back. Once they have agreed on a price, and I agree that you need to negotiate a bottom line not a price plus, you have the upper hand. Remember, you , the dealer and the sales person are all advisories of each other. The dealer want stye car off the lot and earn a profit, although s

      • The problem with negotiating the price is that it makes people feel like they might have gotten a worse deal then the next guy, and it eats at them.

        We in North America generally don't negotiate prices for new items. You go to the store, you buy the item, you pay the same as the next guy. (Unless you're buying high volume, or are a contractor, or something.) Generally the only new things we negotiate on are cars. Even most new houses have a set price.

      • by jxander (2605655)

        Part of the problem is that the current supply/demand situation prevents any reasonable negotiation over the price of a Tesla.

        There is a months-long waiting list. If you want to try and haggle over the sticker price, Tesla can just say "next" and have another 1000 customers lined up for the vehicle you passed over. And personally, this is 100% fine by me. I'd rather know the price, evaluate the cost and benefits on my own terms and buy a car without trying to talk down some greasy salesman.

        If we ever rea

    • 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.

      Rick Perry is not running for re-election and the campaign for his replacement is under way. So, he is not "under the thumb" of the National Automotive Dealers Association, since a threat fro them to contribute to his rivals is not really much of a threat. Based on previous contributions to national campaigns, Rick Perry is more interested in setting himself up for what he perceives as the stronger national position on this issue. I am pretty sure that Chris Christie is statutorily barred from seeking anoth

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I can EVs helping both sides. The left benefits because shifting to solar/wind power as the primary means of a vehicle's propulsion is better for the environment and gives less fossil fuel waste.

    The right benefits by EVs because they offer energy independence (something the Tea Party strongly pushes for), a nod towards Big Coal, and less reliance on oil.

    This happened with solar last year... both the Tea Party and the far left greens have ended up agreeing on the importance on this... which is ironic becaus

    • by guises (2423402)

      I can EVs helping both sides. The left benefits because shifting to solar/wind power as the primary means of a vehicle's propulsion is better for the environment and gives less fossil fuel waste.

      Not to take away from your point, but everyone benefits from this. The environment shouldn't be a left/right issue, and it's shameful that it's been turned into that.

  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      what's the "democrat party"?

      • by number6x (626555)

        Its like the Republic party, except Republics like elephants I think.

        It does always sound like the person speaking has some kind of learning diasability when I hear the term 'democrat party' spoken. It could just be that english is not the speaker's first language.

      • by jxander (2605655)
        Democrats with party hats and noise makers. Clearly.
    • by dcollins (135727)

      Mostly agreed. But admittedly the Republican party has long been a gluing-together of different and not totally compatible factions, such as fiscal conservatives (business) and social conservatives (religious). On some issues they agree, like military adventurism abroad (for their own reasons). Other times, it looks more like a confused back-and-forth run around, like that recent crowd-controlled video game (whatever it was). Even without many individuals in the electorate being themselves hypocritical.

      http

  • Uh No (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @04:29PM (#46587341)

    Demographics, not electric car business models are going to decide the next Presidential elections.

    Republicans have won the Presidential popular vote only ONCE since 1988 (Bush v, Kerry, and that was an incumbent).

    • Winning streaks (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sjbe (173966) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @05:01PM (#46587645)

      Republicans have won the Presidential popular vote only ONCE since 1988 (Bush v, Kerry, and that was an incumbent).

      And the democrats only won it once between 1968 and 1992. What's your point? Most of the elections were fairly close and the losses had less to do with demographics than the candidates who were running. Bush Sr kind of blew it against Clinton but that election could have gone either way. Clinton loses and I'm not sure the democrats had anyone who would obviously have won in 1996. Bush Jr could easily have lost in 2004 and arguably did lose in 2000. Neither of Obama's wins were blowouts either. The only real blowouts I can remember are Reagan's wins, particularly in 1984 against Mondale. It wouldn't be shocking to see a republican in the white house in 2016. Just depends on who's running and how things play out.

      The biggest problem the republicans have is that they push for policies that tend to repel anyone who isn't older white and usually male. Women, blacks, hispanics, LBGT, and most other minority groups tend to vote democrat. Some very strongly so. The republicans have also tied their mast to conservative religious groups who tie their hands on social issues. They have gotten away from the idea of sensible fiscal policy in order to wage a futile jihad on taxes and have shut the government down twice over the issue.

      • 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.

    • Clinton 1992 due to Ross Perot splitting Republican vote. Clinton 96, again due to Ross Perot. Bush 2000 due to Nader splitting Dem votes in Florida. Only three straight contests, 2004, 2008, 2012. R 1, D 2. That is the score now.
  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ArcadeMan (2766669)

      "If they love money more than actual value, they'll love Bitcoins!" - Anonymous Slashdot Troll.

  • 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.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by MildlyTangy (3408549)

      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.

      Crimea river.

  • 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.

    • by rahvin112 (446269)

      It's been said several times in this thread but I'll repeat it. The Republicans have always been the party of crony capitalism and protecting entrenched businesses. The national dealers association has had their hands so far into state politics that you ignore them at the peril of losing your office. The dealers association has, and will, throw millions into a state political campaign where $100k is the typical election budget when governors or legislators don't tow their line.

      To put this in perspective, th

  • by werepants (1912634) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @05:07PM (#46587711)
    Seriously - Tesla and SpaceX have both turned republican ideology on its head.

    Case 1: republicans love the military-industrial complex and always protect their cost-plus pork for defense contractors, while simultaneously claiming to support fiscal responsibility and free-market competition. Once someone shows up actually wanting free market competition in these giant aerospace contracts, the republicans are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    Case 2: the republican stance is that all regulation is bad. So is environmentalism, and government loans. Rich people are awesome though, and deserve tax cuts and celebration for all the glorious good they do for the economy. Enter Tesla - a product targeted squarely at the upper end of middle class and higher, which is environmentally minded, got started with renewable energy loans, and which is stirring up areas where regulation legitimately is disrupting market efficiency.

    The contortions the republican party has to go through to try to reconcile the inconsistencies highlighted by these companies are hilarious, and representative of the entire redefinition the party is going through. I'm hoping they'll get trounced by the dems another time or two and then emerge as something worthy of sharing a name with the party of Eisenhower, Roosevelt and Lincoln.
  • by Radical Moderate (563286) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @06:14PM (#46588329)
    "The widespread franchise rules giving car dealers virtual monopolies in their territories "

    If there were only one or two car manufacturers, sure, that would be a monopoly. Yes, in this case the franchise model is enforced by the government, but that doesn't automatically make it monopolistic. Plenty of franchisers outside of the auto industry have self-imposed rules regarding franchise location. That's why you don't see two McDonalds across the street from each other.

    Which is more monopolistic: A system that forces car manufacturers to sell to consumers through independent dealers--many of whom carry more than one brand, or a system where the manufacturer owns the whole distribution chain, including the dealer?

    I actually don't have a problem with Tesla's model, and am no fan of dealerships, but let's stop misusing the term "monopoly" to describe the current situation.
    • by Scowler (667000)
      That depends on how you define your market. If you are just buying a "car" or "truck", you're right. If buying a brand new Honda Civic, and looking for available means of buying a Civic locally, then your regional selection may or may not be large enough such that a particular dealer might have a "monopoly" on selling Civics in your area. Truthfully, when it comes to purchasing NEW cars, I think a majority of shoppers are in between these two extremes... they may have narrowed down their choice of vehicl
  • Look electric car is not like health insurance. Health insurance must be sold across the state lines and nationwide. Healthcare companies should be able to find states with friendly regulators. They need to set up shop at a place where the judges, juries and arbitrators would be friendly to the company not the claimants. So that is why we should support healthcare being sold nationwide.

    But the electric car is a very complex product. Most users don't know how to drive a car. They need to be trained and lice

  • Didn't Christie take a bridge too far, piss off everyone who drives and show he is not fit for any position of responsibility?

It's a poor workman who blames his tools.

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