WoodTV has reported that Tesla is launching its first vehicle service center in West Michigan. Tesla’s signs are already up at what used to be Prestige Auto Imports on 29th Street SE on the border of Grand Rapids and Kentwood. Tesla’s new service center will be near the area’s first Whole Foods Market, which is currently under construction.
Records that Tesla filed with the Kent County Register of Deeds reveal that Ohio-based Sean Properties Michigan, LLC, which is the owner of the site, started leasing the property to Tesla back in November. On November 6, 2020, a building permit application was filed with the city. That application called for “limited” improvements to the interior of the building “for ‘TESLA, INC.’ auto sales, delivery, and vehicle service center.” Renovations may cost around $500,000 according to estimates by stakeholders.
You may remember the struggle Tesla had to endure to be able to serve and sell to its customers in the state. In 2016, Tesla sued the state of Michigan over a 2014 law that required automakers to sell through independent and franchised dealers while banning automakers from selling directly to customers. Tesla claimed it was unconstitutional, and in January of 2020, Michigan settled with Tesla by allowing the company to deliver, sell, and service its EVs in Michigan under subsidiaries as long as the vehicles are titled in another state and then transferred to Michigan.
I find it rather silly that state governments don’t want to allow Tesla and other automakers to sell directly to customers. However, it is clear why — auto dealerships (or dealership associations) constantly lobby and donate to campaigns. Last year, the Michigan House of Representatives passed a new bill that would ban Tesla and other automakers from operating sales and service centers in the state while also blocking new EV startups from operating. This was after the state settled with Tesla. Fortunately, that bill died. Who is still going after Tesla and other EV companies, though, and why?
This new site for Tesla is a win for EV startups that want to operate in Michigan. Hopefully, one day, electric automakers that choose to sell directly to their customers will be allowed to do so in all 50 states.