White House Responds To Tesla Direct Sales Petition


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Over one year ago, we broke the news that the Tesla Motors 50-state direct sales petition had received the required 100,000 signatures, which meant that the White House had to respond.

Respond it did, but first let’s take one more look at what the petition states:

Tesla Direct Sales Petition

Tesla Direct Sales Petition

And here’s the White House response from Dan Utech, special assistant to the President for energy and climate change, which we feel sort of reads like a copy & paste mash-up of prior government press releases¬†:

Official White House Response to allow Tesla Motors to sell directly to consumers in all 50 states.

Response to We the People Petition on Tesla Motors

By Dan Utech

Thanks for your We the People petition. We’re excited about the next generation of transportation choices, including the kind of electric vehicles that Tesla and others have developed. These companies are taking steps to help spur innovation in the promising area of advanced batteries and electric automobiles. Vehicle electrification and other advanced technologies are vital components of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and his commitment to addressing climate change and reducing carbon pollution, in addition to reducing our dependence on oil.

But as you know, laws regulating auto sales are issues that have traditionally sat with lawmakers at the state level.

We believe in the goal of improving consumer choice for American families, including more vehicles that provide savings at the pump for consumers. However, we understand that pre-empting current state laws on direct-to-consumer auto sales would require an act of Congress.

We are already making significant progress in promoting vehicle efficiency: new vehicle fuel economy has increased by 12% since 2008 and consumers now can choose from five times more car models with a combined city/highway fuel economy of 30 mpg or more, compared to just five years ago. In December 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that model year 2012 vehicles achieved an all-time high fuel economy, after increasing seven of the last eight years.

The President has taken historic action to spur more consumer choice — saving consumers money at the pump and reducing our dependence on oil. Here are some of the ways we’re helping to encourage the future generation of energy-efficient cars:

  • In 2012, the Obama Administration finalized groundbreaking standards that will increase fuel economy to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks by Model Year 2025. These standards will save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the gas pump and reduce U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels. And this spring, we also released standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, a move that will save vehicle owners and operators an estimated $50 billion in fuel, and save a projected 530 million barrels of oil. You can learn more about that here.
  • The Department of Energy (DOE) has a loan program to help spur the kinds of innovation needed to create the future of transportation. In fact, Tesla’s electric car won the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year while repaying its DOE loan 9 years early and earning the taxpayers about $17 million in profit. And DOE’s loan to Ford Motor Company to upgrade 13 factories across six states and to upgrade the fuel efficiency of a dozen popular vehicles has supported 33,000 jobs across the United States.
  • In September 2013, DOE awarded $45 million in funding for 38 new projects that to improve fuel efficiency, lower transportation costs, and protect the environment. The 38 new projects support the goals of the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, a public-private initiative to make EVs as affordable and convenient to own and drive as gasoline-powered vehicles within 10 years. Also as part of EV Everywhere, DOE has launched the Workplace Charging Challenge, with a goal of achieving a tenfold increase in the number of U.S. employers offering workplace charging for plug-in electric vehicles in the next five years.

As these initiatives show, the Administration is in favor of fostering competition in the market to help spur the kinds of innovation needed to support ongoing U.S. leadership in vehicle manufacturing and a potential range of new technologies.

Again, thank you for your petition.

Dan Utech is Special Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change

To voice your thoughts/opinions on this response, there’s a brief White House survey titled “Tell Us What You Think About We the People and This Petition Response on Tesla” that can be accessed here.

Hat tip to Josh!

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38 Comments on "White House Responds To Tesla Direct Sales Petition"

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In other words, “We’re the good guys here, go bother someone else”.

They are not actually the good guys, the policies the special assistant to the President is referring to were for the most part initiated by the Republicans.

This is the current administration’s chance to add something to the chances of plug-ins to succeed but apparently it is not that interested.

“We believe in the goal of improving consumer choice for American families, including more vehicles that provide savings at the pump for consumers. However, we understand that pre-empting current state laws on direct-to-consumer auto sales would require an act of Congress.”

Act of Congress…. that says it all

That’s the same Congress that has one House where the majority believe EVs are satan’s spawn.

This was very odd respons, as petition did not have anything to do with environmentalism, but it was just to allow competition in car sales.

Good thing is that if States are preventing the competition, Tesla has more cars to sell outside United States. And also sooner Tesla can move manufacturing and jobs into China and Europe.

As Finland has the largest lithium reserves in Europe and also good wind power resources, I think that Finland could be natural location for Tesla’s European car and battery factory.

I had the same thought.

The petition was for freedom to do business, especially across state lines. The response was all about “saving money at the pump” (who cares, we don’t need the pump any longer!) and about environmental stewardship.

Do we need a Republican administration to stop, or at least discourage, the States from restraining trade?


If Tesla gets too frustrated, I think they will file a Supreme Court case along those lines.

But if the dealer associations keep letting bills pass that give Tesla exemptions for a few stores, I think Tesla will mostly remain quiet. They’re going to look at the situation as a competitive advantage.

As Rebublicans in Texas, Arizona, and apparently North Carolina have shown, there is no evidence that they are the least bit interested in preventing restraint of trade in this particular industry.

As has already been pointed out:

“This would require an act of Congress.”

You might as well petition the White House to remove someone from the Supreme Court.

More proof that the union of buggy whip makers won’t go without a fight.

Good luck with that, in order to pass a federal law that changes the states, the car need to be power by Oil/coal, and gun pockets each door and the chances will be good in the house.

Seems like the administration is actually not in any hurry to help companies like Tesla compete successfully by preventing them being forced in a retail model that doesn’t fit their product’s specific needs and economics like the “problem” that they don’t generate the sort of maintenance revenue that keeps the expensive franchise dealership system funded.

Instead it’s content with mostly pointing at the success of policies that were initiated by the previous (Bush) administration.

Very disappointing.

Funny – I didn’t get a $7500 Federal tax credit when I bought my Ford Explorer. Seems some one is doing something to promote Tesla.

As has been said several times already, it’s not about EVs or Tesla, it’s about interstate sales. It’s about allowing a different method for selling cars.

He talks a good game, but when it counts, he shrinks from confrontation time after time. Voting accomplishes nothing. Voting with your wallet is the only power we the people really have. Elon Musk and his many companies will end up doing what the federal government can’t or won’t.

Despite all the rhetoric, it says two things:
1) We can’t do anything (without Congress)
2) We won’t promise to press Congress to address this.

Makes sense. Even if there were such an act of Congress I don’t think it would make much difference since Tesla can still sell direct through its gallery/website purchase model.

However, some state like NC want to make it illegal to purchase EVs over the Internet.

Cripes. Unbelievable.

I’m always amazed how NC gets punished in liberal sites. NC allows Tesla sales. There was a bill that went no where (died in committee) but for some reason people still like to point to NC. NY, NJ – both have more restrictions on Tesla. Bunch of blue state hypocrites.

NC with republican control of both houses and governor has zero restrictions on direct sales by Tesla

If you don’t believe an act of Congress would do anything, the entire petition is a waste of time.

The single best thing the White House could do to enact the request in this petition is “promise the Democrats will win the House and Senate this year.”

Classic! They talk about how they are pushing more efficient cars but nothing about the petition and getting states to allow direct sales. Oh wait…they said it’s normally set at the state level or would take an act of congress. I think that is what they call…passing the buck. Funny thing, no one is forcing anyone to buy a Tesla car. The petition was just to give Americans the opportunity if they so choose. To bad our rights are becoming more of a privilege.

Well, it is technically true – the Executive Office cannot simply override State laws. It would require Congress to pass a Federal bill establishing boundaries, which then the Executive would sign.

And you would think that most of the 100,000 folks who signed the bogus petition would know that basic 8th grade American Government fact. Says something about our education system and perhaps Tesla fanboys/girls in general.

Correct. Not even an executive order can accomplish this. Civics 101.

Best they could do is pressure Congress to do something as they noted. Unfortunately this Congress doesn’t appear interested in doing anything.

I am disappointed with this response, as well – it looks like they attempted to use it as an evironmental PR platform rather than addressing the perversion of state laws. As statements from Tesla have pointed out, over and over, most state laws only prevent OEMs from direct sales, if they already have a dealership network. So the law does not even apply to Tesla Motors, since they never had a dealer network. Some states made changes to that in order to directly bar Tesla from selling directly. One or two others already had such an extreme law on the books. Had these State laws been left alone, Tesla would be able to sell direct in almost every state without any problems or legal ramifications at all. That is what the White House should have addressed. Liberals have rolled over while Conservatives have pounded the false statement into everone’s mind that Liberals are against business, don’t understand business, or money, or whatever. This would have been an excellent opportunity to put that BS to rest by simply and succinctly pointing out the actual State laws, and establishing the line between competition and collusion. The White House could have taken the… Read more »

Eh, people on this site understand the issue. The average American? It probably doesn’t even take up .001% of the radar.

This is the reason why I don’t think our government can handle a natural disaster or in a lot of cases make it worse.

This idea was about getting rid of parasitic franchise laws blocking Tesla from selling direct.

Instead they added sugar and cream to it to sugar coat it into a letter about them raising gas millage to 55 miles a gallon.

These two things have nothing to do with one another.

Okay, I see the LIGHT……

As a dealer, I will force Tesla to sell me a Model S for $59,000. Then I will put it out on my parking lot and go sit in my air conditioned office and wait for a sucker, until it sells for $113,000 bucks.

As a dealer, I did nothing to design the car or manufacture it…..I just want all the profits.

There is only one thing that is worse than a used car salesman and that’s a …..


Most dealers hope to hit $1800 of profit on a new car purchase. The Honda Fit MSRP only has $500 mark up over cost to the dealer. Dealers make their money on bonuses for selling a certain number of cars and on service/repairs. There are no 50% mark ups on cars. If Tesla had a “dealership” model their prices wouldn’t change. Tempurpedic mattresses are price locked but sell through retailers.

This response could have just stopped at this point:
“But as you know, laws regulating auto sales are issues that have traditionally sat with lawmakers at the state level.”
Don’t really need the pablum that follows and the commercial for the Obama administration and how aware they are of the problem. This “go ask your mother” deflection is to be expected> I think Tesla was just going through the motions anyway when they filled this petition, knowing full well what the response would be. Just something they had to do before they could starting preparing a brief to file a suit, which could work it’s way up to the SC. Probably the only way Tesla will ever be able to direct sell their vehicles in all 50 states, is if the SC finds state law in these areas unconstitutional.
The suit will probably fail in the republican stacked SC, but at least it will shine more light on the hypocrisy of those states, and a congress and a SC, which tout free enterprise, and yet when it comes rolling into their lane they want it stopped.

+1 on where the response should have stopped. I don’t think the guy responding has any idea of the issue at hand. He just read Tesla and looked down at his talking point card for efficient vehicles.

Just a point of clarity though, Tesla did not file this petition. It was filed by some fan of Tesla from Connecticut (IIRC). Tesla did catch wind of it and share the link on their social media.

In the year+ since the petition was filed, Tesla has notched several victories on the sales front, so I do not expect them to file a federal lawsuit anytime in the next 12 – 18 months.

The next big impasse will be Texas in Q1 2015. The state legislatures will reconvene for the first time in two years and the “Tesla exception bill” will likely hit the floor. The kicker is that the Giga(battery)Factory site will be hanging in the balance, and San Antonio will be chomping at at the bit…

Getting really tired of the anti-Republican rhetoric on the comments of this website. Time after time after time I see people referring to Republicans as the enemy. I’m a die hard Republican and I 100% support EVs. One of the tenets of the Republican party is essentially efficiency. Minimal government, maximum freedom of the people is a shining example.

In the same vein I see EVs as far more efficient and sustainable than ICE cars. Once you start adding bribes from lobbyists, and ownership stakes in oil/gas, both sides lose focus of their core beliefs and who knows what can happen. Still, I believe at their core, all Republicans would prefer an EV dominated transportation model.

EVs should not be a partisan thing because there is plenty of benefits for all agendas.

The problem is that Republicans are not actually about “minimal government, maximum freedom of the people” but about accepting bribes from lobbyists that help the few at the expense of the many. It’s called crony capitalism and it’s the reason Republicans oppose freedom of retail models rather than promote it like one would expect from a right wing party.

If you are right wing in America I have new for you: you are basically a political orphan.

Oh, so it’s only republicans that don’t want direct sales? You partisans are way off kilter blaming one party or the other. There are plenty of democrats that are anti direct sales, too. And plenty of democrats that take bribes, too.

What a chicken sh*t and misguided response!

The petition has NOTHING to do with energy or climate change. They replied based on an assumption and not the petition request. The response should have come from the FTC or White House press secretary. They either didn’t bother to actually digest the petition request or more likely figure they can sidestep the issue because it isn’t fish they want to fry. Funny enough the FTC or commerce department had a more meaningful statement on this issue without the impetus of the petition.

They digested it thoroughly. The request would require an act of Congress. Full stop.

The rest of the response is to make you feel better about the fact that Congress (in its current composition) will do no such thing. It’s silly to expect a party that believes climate change is a worldwide hoax to do anything to help an EV manufacturer.

There’s a difference between Congress not supporting subsidies, and Congress not supporting subsidies that compete with their constituants/contributors. Feel free to decide for yourself which reason fuels Republican platforms.

There’s a difference between a R. Congress not supporting subsidies, and R. Congress not supporting subsidies that compete with their constituants/contributors. Feel free to decide for yourself which reason fuels Republican platforms. The recent farm bill is a perfect example. I think people would be surprised what a R. Supreme Court would do here. It wouldn’t be the first time they defied the desire of their fan club.