March 22, 2021

Electric Vehicle Supporters Rally for Legislation Allowing Direct Sales from Manufacturers

WESTPORT — Today, a coalition of supporters of electric vehicles joined together at the Westport Train Station in support of legislation that would allow direct vehicle sales from manufacturers to consumers in Connecticut, as current statutes require a prospective electric vehicle owner to travel out of state to make a purchase from a manufacturer specializing in electric production. State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport), State Senator Bob Duff (D-Norwalk), State Representative Jonathan Steinberg (D-Westport), former State Senator Art Linares, EV Club CT leader Barry Kresch, Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe, Lucid Motors head of communications Jeff Curry, Rivian Manager of Public Policy, League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Lori Brown and IBEW Union 488 Business Manager Daniel McInerney were among the dozens of supporters on location at the train station, as were Tesla and Lucid electric vehicles.

Those gathered did so in support of Senate Bill 127, “An Act Concerning The Sale of Electric Vehicles In The State,” which seeks to permit electric vehicle manufacturers to sell electric vehicles directly to consumers. Sen. Haskell, Senate Chair of the Transportation Committee, and Rep. Steinberg, a member of that committee, co-introduced the legislation. Citing statewide goals of reaching certain levels of electric vehicle operation, also aware that as of 2019, as many as three-fourths of car dealerships did not sell electric vehicles at all, the legislators seek to provide consumers with increased choice and opportunity.

“You can’t buy a Tesla, Lucid or Rivian without going to another state to make that purchase. I think Connecticut should do everything it can to make it easier to get behind the wheel of an electric vehicle, but instead our laws make it harder,” said Sen. Haskell. “I know that the next generation is looking to Hartford, wondering if we will step up for clean air and our natural environment. Let’s let consumers decide whether they want to buy from a car dealership or directly from an EV manufacturer. Dozens of other states have already tried this, and increased competition didn’t just lead to more EV sales and more EVs on the road, but it led to more jobs for dealerships and EV manufacturers alike. It’s time to pass this bill.”

“Our EV club is a consumer-facing organization, and Senate Bill 127, or the EV Freedom Bill, as we refer to it, puts consumers first,” said Kresch. “It would allow them to buy the electric vehicle that best suits their needs and lifestyles, wherever they want to buy it, and would be able to do so in Connecticut. No less than the Federal Trade Commission has written about direct sales; they have traced evolutions of franchise laws and concluded protections expanded until they included outright bans on new car sales by anyone other than a dealer. Instead of protecting, they became protectionist. Our club is not anti-dealer and neither is this bill. As we have seen from data from the Acadia Center and the Automotive Dealers Association, there has been no impact on sales or employment in states permitting direct sales. SB 127 recognizes the industry is changing and Connecticut should change with it. The friction of the current environment is holding us back from hitting ambitious EV adoption goals the state has set for it; this bill will benefit consumers, the environment and bring new jobs into this state.”

“For a century, the future of the automobile was the internal combustion engine, but that time is coming to an end. The future is zero-emission vehicles like electric vehicles,” said Rep. Steinberg. “The industry is changing, and I know it’s very hard for auto dealers to face this kind of fundamental change. They have to make huge investments in their businesses and the community, and we honor that. We want to work with them to evolve the industry in a fashion where they will continue to prosper. We want to offer consumer choice. There will be a lot of people who want to go to a dealership; we also want to afford people choice to buy their car in the fashion they’re most comfortable with. The very nature of electric vehicles has changed how cars will be sold and serviced in the future. What’s going to happen is people will find their way to buy vehicles in the way best for them and our job is to facilitate that and offer consumer choice.”

“Westport has the highest number of registered electric vehicles per-capita in the state of Connecticut, so our community is very committed to this,” said First Selectman Marpe. “We have hybrid and electric vehicles in our police force activity and are committed to walking the walk as much as talking the talk. Our Sustainable Westport committee has been focused on making the environment better for well over a decade, and we hope to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The way we get there is more electric vehicles in our community. We have 600; we need to get to 6,000, and the way we can do that more easily is to have showrooms allowing us to see and purchase those vehicles in a local fashion. I’m a free markets guy, and I think competition is good for everyone. Dealerships will rise to the occasion and make sure they have electric vehicle alternatives to sell as well. This is one way we get to the answer we’re all trying to get to.”

“Choice is what consumers are wanting in electric vehicles and their own lives,” said Curry. “Having a choice of how you are able to buy and service that vehicle is so important. It’s about future-proofing, it’s about readiness for a new kind of technology for consumers and it’s about having choice for residents of Connecticut. This is about electrifying the future and giving more sustainable choices to consumers across the country and here in Connecticut.”

“We’re here to show our support for what really is a citizen-led campaign, and to thank legislators from both sides of the aisle who heard requests to make these vehicles available in their state,” said Monaghan. “Rivian, like Tesla and Lucid, is ready and willing to invest in Connecticut. We want to bring our products to market here. We’re an independent company of electric vehicles, namely trucks and SUVS, looking to replace some of the biggest polluters on the road. We are hopeful for the opportunity to invest in Connecticut.”

“We’ve seen that more and more electric vehicles are on our roads and highways,” said Sen. Duff. “People use them because they’re convenient, great for the environment and good for families. We want to give the public choice in purchasing the cars they want, and to purchase and service those cars in Connecticut. We want consumers to feel confident not just at the time of purchase but as they own the vehicles over time as well. I’d also like to mention Connecticut has 12,000 electric vehicles now and we want 500,000 by 2030. This is our moonshot, and we can do this provided we make laws that work for consumers and give them choices they want and the convenience they deserve.”

“From an environmental, clean energy, and economic perspective, anything that makes it easier for consumers to drive, purchase, and maintain an electric vehicle is good for Connecticut,” said Executive Director Brown. “Allowing direct sales of electric vehicles has overwhelming bi-partisan support among state lawmakers, and this is the year to get it done. CTLCV applauds Senator Haskell for pushing ahead with this important effort, and we commend the Governor for his leadership and commitment to clean transportation as an essential component of our climate change goals.”

“SB 127, if passed, will put more Electric Vehicles on the road more quickly lowering emissions and creating new jobs,” said McInerney. “Over the last six years, IBEW workers have earned over $200M working on Tesla projects – with another $200M currently in the bidding process. This bill will lead to enormous opportunity for the most extensively trained and most skilled IBEW members and all state residents by accelerating the pace of our Electric Vehicle infrastructure development in Connecticut.”