Conservatives, green groups team up to support Tesla

Unlikely allies are rallying together to urge states against rules that would limit the way electric carmaker Tesla sells its vehicles.

In a letter on Monday, organizations from the Sierra Club to the right-leaning Americans for Prosperity told state leaders not to prevent the company from selling its cars directly to consumers.


“These laws retard innovation by making it harder for new technologies to achieve wide distribution and hence reach an adequate scale to be sustainable in the market,” the organizations wrote.

“These laws have negative consequences for the entire automotive industry — including what kinds of cars are built and sold, how they are powered, and what innovative new technologies can reach the market.”

Currently, many states have laws that prevent car companies from opening showrooms and selling directly to consumers, instead of going through a dealer. Auto dealers have argued that the laws are necessary to prevent manufacturers from undercutting their prices and competing on unfair terms.

But for Tesla — founded by billionaire Elon Musk — those rules can be a huge obstacle.

Being able to sell directly to consumers would bring Americans “beneficial new choices on what vehicles they buy and how they buy them,” the groups wrote in their letter this week.

Tesla’s backers have reached out to the White House for help preempting the state laws, but the Obama administration said last summer that it would take an act of Congress to block the laws.

Eight organizations signed Monday’s letter in addition to the Sierra Club and Americans for Prosperity, including the Consumer Federation of America, Environment America and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

The diversity of the groups “reflects the importance of this issue on multiple fronts,” they told state leaders.