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Tesla and Politics

With which political party would you associate these slogans?

a. Anti-government

b. Anti-regulation

c. Free enterprise

d. Competitive markets

e. Innovation

f. Job creation

g. Made in America

Well, of course, it’d be the GOP. What more could a rock-ribbed Republican find more alluring than an American start-up company that, using clever and innovative advances, produces a high-end product, turns a solid profit, sees its stock jump several hundred percent, creates tens of thousands of new jobs, competes successfully in the open market and does it all without government intervention or subsidies.

The company? Tesla Motors.

The GOP position: Kill this company if possible or, at the very least, choke it, prevent it from selling its products, use big government regulations and laws to block sales and limit customers’ access to its products.

I know, it sounds weird. But it’s true. New Jersey just joined Michigan, Missouri, West Virginia, Maryland (the one Democratic state in the mix), Texas and Arizona to restrict or prevent the ordering of a Tesla at a Tesla showroom. The gimmick used is an antiquated code that exists in many states that limits the sale of automobiles to “franchise dealers.”

Strictly speaking, Tesla has no franchises. It uses a “direct to consumer” model. The car is purchased over the Internet. In these states the Tesla galleries cannot offer test drives, discuss price or help you order. You can look at a Tesla but that’s about it.

But the showrooms are important as we discovered when we recently ordered ours. Since we live in the (slightly) more civilized state of Washington we were given the royal treatment by the Tesla representatives in Seattle. We made two visits, took two test drives in different vehicles and spent several hours with our rep. We were led gently through the ordering process picking out the configuration of battery, interior and exterior colors and extras best for us. And there’s no haggling. The price is the price. That’s it. You submit the details, shell out the deposit and the folks in Fremont, CA start building your car.

BTW, Texas got its comeuppance. Tesla was considering two sites for its new Gigafactory where the lithium ion batteries that power their cars will be built, one in Texas and one in Nevada. Nevada won and will enjoy the six to seven thousand full time jobs and the huge boost to the state’s economy.

So why do all these legislators hate Tesla? Why do they suddenly favor big government putting regulations and road blocks on sales and distribution? Why are they not in favor of job creators? Why are ….? Well, you could go on for paragraphs asking these questions.

The answer, of course, is that they’re hypocrites. All those idealistic sounding buzz lines at the beginning of this rant are just for show. As noted in an earlier blog, there are three kinds of Republicans: the wealthy, those with enough clout for the wealthy to have bought their services and the duped. What we’re seeing here is that middle group, the bought and the guys who’ve bought them are the franchise automobile dealers who are running scared.

And you know what? They should be scared. Last year Tesla outsold every luxury automobile but one (Mercedes Benz S-Class) and did this without spending a dime on advertising. Why advertise when you can barely build cars fast enough to fill the orders?

The Tesla is an astonishing automobile. It’s top powered version does 0-60 in 3.1 secs! It handles like a sports car. There is no maintenance, none. There’s nothing to maintain. No engine, no engine oil. No transmission, no oil. No drive shaft, cam shaft, radiator, exhaust system, mufflers, etc. etc. etc. It’s two electric motors, a suspension system, a steering column and a whole lotta software.

It’s truly revolutionary and in the coming years, as Tesla begins being able to make enough batteries cheaply enough and develop their mid-sized, mid-priced new model, they will change forever the face of the automobile.

Today you can drive from San Diego to Boston (or New York City or Washington, DC) for free. Yup. For free. Tesla superchargers, which take a mere 20 minutes (have a cuppa while you wait) to get you another 150 miles worth of juice, are dotted across the continent. More are being installed every day. There is no charge for a Tesla at any of these and never will be.

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