Today, that tide turned against Tesla after Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill — backed by the state's auto dealers and General Motors — that Tesla says not only bars its stores, but even a place where Tesla could tell customers about its vehicle.
The bill signed by Snyder, a Republican, had originally been offered by the Michigan Auto Dealers Association as a way to allow dealers more power to levee fees on buyers.
It passed both houses of the Michigan legislature with a sole vote in opposition — and, according to Tesla, a single wording change that took place just before its final vote, without debate.
Tesla said last week the bill was "an effective prohibition against Tesla opening a store in Michigan," and "also seeks to prevent Tesla from operating a gallery in Michigan that simply provides information without conducting sales. We could even be barred from telling people about our car."
But Snyder released a statement upon signing the bill saying it did not change existing state law that he said required automakers to sell through franchised dealers. Not citing Tesla by name, Snyder said "I would be open and encourage discussion...to make sure Michigan was open to products and services from all over the globe."
In the states where Tesla has been banned outright, the company has still set up storefronts where it can advertise its vehicles. Before Snyder signed, General Motors also weighed in, as it has in other states, contending that the bill would "help ensure that all automotive manufacturers follow the same rules to operate in the State of Michigan."
It can partner with dealers — although Tesla's corporate promise to not make money off vehicle service, it's build-to-order business and its strategy of setting up stand-alone stores would make such negotiations tough.