Tesla may be forced to pull the plug on Georgia store

Pedestrians walk past Tesla Motors' new store in Pasadena on Aug. 29.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Electric-car maker Tesla Motors may have to stop selling vehicles in Georgia.

An auto dealers association has asked Peach State officials to bar the Palo Alto-based company from offering its Model S sport sedans and upcoming Model X SUVs at its Atlanta-area retail store.

The Georgia Automobile Dealers Assn., in a petition to the Georgia Department of Revenue, alleges that Tesla has sold 5,200 Model S sedans in the United States so far this year, 173 of them in Georgia.

That’s a violation of the sales-license waiver Tesla had received from the state of Georgia, the group alleges. The association said in its petition that the waiver limits Tesla sales in the state to 150 vehicles per year.


The organization, which represents approximately 500 car dealers in Georgia, has asked that the state punish the company by “revoking Tesla’s existing dealer license” and “denying any attempt by Tesla to renew or reapply for a dealer or manufacturer license.”

Tesla representatives were not immediately available for comment.

Unlike most manufacturers, Tesla has no franchise network of dealers and instead sells car directly to the public. That’s caused legal battles in states across the country, where dealers often enjoy legal protection under state laws.

In some states, Tesla maintains showrooms and service centers where it displays automobiles, offers test drives and performs service and repairs. In others, the company operates “galleries,” where it offers only information about the vehicles, but does not offer test drives or discuss pricing.

Tesla has tussled with dealers in other states including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Missouri.

The automaker’s Model S starts at $71,000 and the price can exceed $100,000 with the largest battery and other options.

Tesla stock was at $281.80 in midday trading on Wall Street, up 4.5% and at its highest price since the stock’s initial public offering in 2010.


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